Friday, February 26, 2010

"Felted French Market bag......"

A number of days ago, I posted the beginning of my hand knitting project, the French Market Bag. This pattern, which was written by Polly Outhwaite, I downloaded from the internet.

This was the photo that I posted earlier showing the beginning of the bottom of the bag......around row/round 4 or so.

I later took a photo of the completed bottom of the bag. I had increased from 8 cast on stitches to 200 stitches. Then began plain stockinette stitch knitting until the bag sides were high enough in my estimation (the pattern gives a suggested inch height, but also says add more rows/rounds if a higher bag is desired, which I did). Each vertical inch of knitting will end up approximately 3/4 inch felted.

Here is the completed bag prior to felting.

The final felted French Market Bag. The dark green rows along the bottom were not part of the bottom of the bag that I showed in the earlier photo, but rows knitted after that photo was taken. If I were to have changed colors when I had finished the row where I had increased to 200, the bottom color would not have shown. The directions in the pattern call for 9 more rows to be knitted in the same color after reaching the 200, but I added a few more for good measure.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Sock Blank....."

I knitted another sock blank. I have the 2 strand sock blank from last week that still has to be dyed, but decided I wanted to re-measure another "single" strand sock blank, dye it, and knit up a pair of socks from it so that I could measure the rows per inch for sizing another pair of socks using the same yarn. I have measured the yarn before but not after dyeing it, so wanted to get another reading on it.

The following photo is without a flash. Unfortunately, yesterday, when the photo was taken, the sky was overcast and I didn't have good natural sunlight, but using the flash washed out the colors too much, so settled for the "flash-less" one. :) When Don saw the sock blank, he remarked that it looked like the colors on a raku fired piece of pottery. That would be an excellent description of the colors although the photo doesn't show it as I would've hoped.

I knitted another sock blank yesterday and will dye it today. It would have been dyed yesterday but I needed to purchase more white vinegar to use as the mordant to set the dye.

I moved the paint roller cage on the NZAK stand to allow the yarn a more direct vertical feed to the yarn mast. After using it in its previous place for part of the knitted tube, I moved it so I would have an immediate idea as to if it seemed better placed, which I do feel, so it has now found it's permanent home. :)

I will make sure that I take and post photos of the pair of socks I knit from this blank. I plan on knitting them today.........

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"First Blossom......"

When we attended Don's family reunion 2 summers ago, one of his cousins had taken that opportunity to have dozens of small "starts" available of a Christmas Cactus that had belonged to their grandmother. The starts were but 1 or 2 sections of the "leaves" that had taken root, and were very small. We brought ours home and set it next to the Aero Garden so that it received 16 hours of light a day, where it thrived. After it had grown larger, we moved it to a place in the front window where it received bright morning light and it has lived there since. It also had been receiving artificial light each night as we have lights on timers in that room, too. I was under the impression that we'd probably never see it bloom because of that. I was proven wrong, a fact of which I am very pleased. :)

Here is Don holding his maternal grandmothers Christmas Cactus with its 1st blossom. His mothers photo is on the wall, so we have 3 generations represented in this photo. :)

A close up of the blossom. Beautiful, isn't it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Fat Tuesday......."

Don and I met Barb and Geoff at Dardanelles, on Monroe Street, for dinner last Tuesday. It was a Mardi Gras celebration with live music performed by the Prairie Bayou Cajun Band. Don's acupuncturist is the guitar player in the band, and that is how we knew about the performance/celebration.

Here is Barb in her boa and beads.

I look so pensive for some reason. I must have been saying something profound, as Geoff looks to be listening carefully. ;)

Don with his HUGE dessert!

The Prairie Bayou Cajun Band.

A few people took to the floor who knew what they were doing. ;)

We had a very nice time. Good friends, good food, and good entertainment.....a winning combination! :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Our Newest Neighbor....."

Angela and Andy welcomed their 2nd child into the world last Friday. Her name is Rebecca Bradley. She was 8# 4oz. and 18 1/2 inches long. This photo (I believe) was taken at her 1st Drs. appointment. She is, of course, "styling", wearing her new stocking cap knitted by me and my NZAK. :)

These just in today's email so I thought I would edit and add. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Sunday/Valentine's Day......"

Last Sunday dawned bright and beautiful.....a perfect Valentines Day to be out and about.

Don and I started our outing with a stop outside of Sam's home (down the hill from us), where he has been constructing this ice sculpture since the 1st large snowfall back in December, adding to it as new snow falls, packing it on and watering it down. Hopefully, he will achieve his goal before the weather changes to warmer temperatures for good.

Our next stop was at an open house in Highland Woods, a residential development that both of us love. This beauty was a 4 bedroom, free standing home. Yes, I know, why were we looking at something so large? Because it was there! Every condo in that complex has a different floor plan.....we're just being inquisitive!

It has a huge deck off of the kitchen and a very good size screened in porch on the lowest level. It is quite the place!

After our tour of the open house, we drove over to Hilldale to eat at Pasqual's. This was our appetizer, called "Taos Torches". We would HIGHLY recommend them.....DELICIOUS!!!

And my last photo of the day......Copper relaxing in the sun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"French Market Bag....."

I started knitting a larger piece of work last week. During the day, I "usually" will knit (using the NZAK), weave, or spin, and then have some ongoing piece of hand knitting to work on in the evenings. I've knitted this bag before and like it a lot. I found this pattern on the internet. The base of it will be one of Cascade 220's Heathers, "Forest", and the main body of the bag will be Cascade 220's Heather "Shire". I "think" that I will incorporating some other contrast colors into the bag as well, but have not made any definitely decisions about those yet.

The pattern starts out with 8 cast on stitches, divided evenly onto 4 double point needles (#7's). The pattern sequence then is to increase 8 stitches every other round with a plain knit round in between the increase rounds, continuing this until you have 200 stitches on your needles, which by then, have been transferred onto several circular needle lengths to accommodate the number of needles that are being knit. "WHEW"! Talk about a run on sentence! Even reading it made me breathless!

The following photo shows the beginning of the bag where I have increased 2 times, and have 24 stitches on the 4 needles.

And this is the completed bottom of the bag. Now begins knitting the sides of the bag and where I will make color changes in the design.

More photos to follow as the piece progresses..........

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Socks and Stocking Caps....."

A pair of sock that I knit this weekend using the NZAK. I used Lion Brand Sock Ease yarn.

Here are the other 2 baby stocking caps that I knitted this weekend and dyed. These were given to Andy and Angela for their new little girl, Rebecca Bradley, who was born last Friday.

Here is a photo showing all 4 of the baby stocking caps that I knitted and dyed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Doing a Little Dyeing......"

I knitted a couple of baby stocking caps on the NZAK, my circular sock machine. They were an experiment, as I had not knitted any before, so wasn't sure how they would turn out. My 1st one was immediately put into an envelope and sent to Abigail, my granddaughter, to see if it was large enough to still fit her. If so, then more will be sent her way.

After posting the cap to Abigail, I came in and knitted up 2 more caps for the experience and also because I wanted to try dyeing them (I used the cream colored, Valley Yarns Franklin Natural Cones sock yarn from WEBS).

Here are my colors that I mixed up in my "Dollar Store" oil and vinegar bottles, which seem to work very well for mixing and pouring the dyes. The stopper is VERY tight, allowing no dye to escape around it. The brand of dyes that I used this time are Gaywool, from Australia.

Since each knitted piece was so small and I wanted to use a different color dye for each one, I decided to use the microwave to set the dye. I had done dyeing in the microwave before, but that was using Kool Aid, so I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to "blend" various colors, which as you can see from the photo, really didn't happen. I got carried away initially with Willow, a deep green, so my other drops of colors were swept quite away, but it did created a mottled effect in the knitted yarn. In this photo, the dye is almost "exhausted", which means almost totally absorbed into the yarn. A few more minutes heating in the microwave and the water was clear......the piece was finished and needed only to be rinsed thoroughly.

My next attempt was with Citrus, which I decided to use by itself to see if I would be able to get an even color. It, too, did some mottling, but overall I am happy with the dye results and experiment. This photo shows that the dye was no where near to being exhausted, so it was heated, if I remember correctly, for at least 10 more minutes, perhaps more.

Here are finished stocking caps.........

I knitted 2 more caps the following day and also used the microwave to dye them. Once again I tried dyeing them 1 overall color, but they, too, had a slight mottled effect. I think the solution to that may be to use much more water and make sure the knitted piece is submerged fully and continuously during the process. I also used less dye to try for a more pastel effect......finding out that less still means MUCH less, although I was pleased with the results. :) I'll post a photo of them when it is processed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Super Bowl Party....."

Don and I were invited to a "Super Bowl / Birthday Party" at Christina and Christen's last Sunday. Also in attendance were Rob, Andy, and Benjamin. Benjamin would have no part of me nor anyone else. Andy said that it was because he had been scared by Marley, C&C's energetic dog, although, it had been a very long time since Benjamin had been around Don or myself.......New Years Eve, in fact, so that is what I attributed his shyness towards us.

Others, most of whom I had never met (and hadn't been introduced to on that day either), were happily snacking and watching the pre-game show. Christen is front and center.........

Don, Charlie, and Lonny...........

After leaving C&C's party, we stopped over at Rob's, who had left a bit earlier because a couple of his brothers were coming to his house to watch the game. We stopped in for a short visit to say hello, came home and settled in for the night. It was a very social weekend for us. ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Knitted Gifts....."

I knitted a pair of "wrist warmers" for our neighbor Christina, whose birthday was last week. We went to a combined Birthday/Super Bowl party on Sunday at her house.

Julie's (my daughter in law) brother, Mark, asked if I would knit a stocking cap for his girlfriend, Teresa, to match her new snowmobile. After some confusion as to the correct colors, I bought Cascade 220 for knitting project. I sent the finished cap to Patrick/Julie earlier this week and it arrived yesterday. Patrick said that the colors were a match for the snowmobile. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Barb's Birthday......"

Don and I went over to Barb and Geoff's Saturday night to celebrate her birthday, which was last Wednesday. Her planned dessert didn't materialize, so we had no cake in which to have a candle to blow out. One of the deviled eggs that I made would have to do. :)

Barb happily poses in her newly re-modeled room, which has been painted "Coral or Salmon"........but MY description would be "PINK"! ;) Can you tell that she is taking some teasing? ;)

Geoff and Barb as we sat down to a delicious chili and cornbread dinner.

After Barb's birthday dinner celebration, we sat down to watch some of the videos of key speakers from the National Bioneer Convention that was held last Fall. Don purchased the set after we attended the 1st Annual Bioneer Convention here in Madison.

We had a great time and once again....."Happy Birthday Barb!"!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Knitting a Sock Blank"

I wanted to wind off enough yarn to knit a sock blank from the cones of natural yarn, so that I could dye it prior to knitting a pair of socks. Using my skein winder, I would be able to do that, although I did not have a way to really know the exact amount wound onto the skein winder except to just count my rotations (which would work, but could be less accurate). Pat, from the local CSM crankers, told me about using a fishing line counter, which I purchased at Dicks Sporting Goods last week. In this photo, you can see how the yarn goes through the fishing line counter and accurately adds up the number of feet that go through it.

I wanted 2 strands of yarn so that when the blank was dyed and unraveled, the 2 socks, when knit, would be very similar in appearance, providing I started using the yarn from the same ends of both wound balls.

A close up of the fishing line counter.......

The finished skein. "Unfortunately", when figuring out how many yards I needed for a pair of socks, I didn't take into account that the number was divided by 2 and I measured out the entire yardage in one long strand, realizing afterwards that each 1/2 of this long strand would knit a pair of socks. So now, I have enough on this skein for 2 pair that will be similar in color(s), if not exactly the same.

The next step was to take the skein and wind it onto a paper towel cardboard center, so that it would slide onto the paint roller cage I had attached to my NZAK (January 19, 2010 post). I prefer using paper towel centers compared to toilet paper centers. The paper towel center allows more room for the wound ball without going over the edge as when I tried using the smaller cardboard center.

By using my swift and Strauch Jumbo Winder, that task was easily done. Of course, Copper was there for moral support.

The wound ball of yarn was then slid onto the paint roller cage and knitted into a long tube. I used my 64 needle cylinder and adjusted the tension to the lowest possible setting. The double strand was not easy to knit, even with the low tension, but eventually the tube was completed.

The finished double strand tube........

I will document the dyeing process when I get up enough nerve to start that. :) My plan is to "paint" the sock blank, something which I have not tried to do as yet. So far, I have only purchased some stoppered glass bottles for the dye mixtures, but have not found a vessel large enough in which to "set the dye" using the oven or microwave. I "think" I might be able to use plastic wrap in the process and if so, then I should be able to do it in the microwave easily enough. THAT.......remains to be seen though, eh? ;)

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Amaryllis and Art"

Don's sister and brother in law, Bonnie and Eugene, sent us a potted amaryllis bulb for Christmas. It has been growing nicely next to the Aero Garden, receiving the artificial periods of light. Finally, it was time to move it to the sun room where we could enjoy the blossom display. It has 4 flowers that began opening the beginning of last week, and also a 2nd flower stalk that will eventually begin it's flower display, after the 1st ones glory has gone.

Thankfully, the flower stalks are nice and sturdy and don't need any additional support.

You'll notice there is a change in the background from this photo to the next........

Don purchased a new piece of artwork on Friday. St. Mary's sponsors small art shows and has them hanging along some of its corridors. Don saw this and fell in love with it. It is a beautiful piece and replaced the nude male drawing that a friend of mine had done years ago. It is good to change out art pieces occasionally so one will appreciate them fully, once they are re-hung again.

The piece is done by Carol Pflughoeft, of McFarland, WI, who calls herself a "Digital Artist". This is from part of her artist statement......"My digital artwork consists of original fractal designs combined with original photography. This series began with my discovery of the delightful world of fractal patterns. Their stunning beauty, intriguing shapes, unusual textures, and repeating patterns fascinated me".

It is a beautiful addition to our home.......