Normally I Dislike Dog Clothing

My sister, Megan, is a photographer and took this picture of Miles a couple weeks ago.  I taught him the cue "pose" which tilt the head and prick up the ears while your picture is taken.  Here he is demonstrating a lovely pose for Megan.  Such a good pup!

Miles is my 6 month old English/German Shorthaired Pointer pup.  Jon and I got him when he was 8 weeks old in June.  We got him so I would have a running buddy and he has already proven to be an admirable running companion.  In fact, it is one of his very favorite activities.

His German Shorthair side has given him short hair that is even more fine than usual for the breed.  As a result, he gets cold rather easily.  To combat this problem, I made him a sweater.  I am not a fan of gratuitous dog clothing, but for Miles it is for function not fashion, so I'm okay with it.

I chose a pattern from Ravelry that is more like a strap-on blanket, less like a sweater.  This was my own personal preference to make the piece more obviously for function.  It pulls over his head and straps under his belly.

The sweater is knitted from the neck back and done all in one piece, including the belly strap.  The neck and chest area is knitted in the round and then switched to flat knitting for the back portion.  The only change I made from the original pattern was to use Velcro instead of buttons to fasten the belly strap.  I can definitely see Miles suddenly deciding it's a good idea to chew off buttons.  Velcro solves that problem.

Obviously from the pictures, he doesn't mind it a bit.  When we went camping and it got cold at night, he was quite happy to have it on and even wagged his tail when I got it out the second night.

Miles had a GREAT time camping.  We did a lot of running and playing, leaving a little time for naps in between.  Camping was the first experience that made Miles tired enough not to care about participating in evening activities.  He was so sleepy he didn't even try to share our s'mores at the campfire.  When it was time to go in the tent for the night, he was very eager to get inside and snuggle into my sleeping bag with me.  :)


Thanks to Ravelry

Ravelry is a wonderful knitting community where knitters can find patterns, inspiration, fellow knitters and crocheters, browse other people's projects, chat, and visit forums.  There are groups dedicated to everything you can imagine.  My three favorite groups I've found so far are the German Shorthaired Pointer group, Sock Knitters Anonymous, and Harry potter Knitting/Crocheting House Cup.

Each month, Sock Knitters Anonymous do what is called a sock knit along (SKA).  There are several guidelines for the month and participants make a pair of socks according to those specifications to be entered in that month's drawing.  The winners of the drawing get knitting-related items such as yarn, pattern books, or knitting accessories.  Since it's a drawing, not a contest, anyone can win -- not just the awesome experienced knitters.

If it has escaped your notice to date, I am addicted to knitting socks.  So Sock Knitters Anonymous is a great group for me!  One of the points of having guidelines for the month is to challenge knitters to try new techniques.  September was my first time participating in a SKA and I made the yellow socks I named Goldy Lace.

September's guidelines were:
1. Make yellow socks from a Nancy Bush mystery pattern
2. Make socks of any color from a Wendy Johnson pattern

A mystery pattern is simply a pattern that is not given in its entirety right away.  Instead, the pattern is given out in several parts so that you just have to follow along clue by clue and end up with a surprise since you didn't know what it would look like until it was finished.  It's a really cool concept but I did not do the mystery pattern this month.  Instead, I made yellow socks from Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace pattern out of her book Socks from the Toe Up.  The brand of yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns from their Panda Silk Print.  Lovely, soft yarn.  Very fine too.  I used size 0 needles but would use a 00 if I knitted with this yarn again.

These socks were a challenge for me because I had never tried to make socks starting from the toe.  Also I had never done a lace pattern.  And I made these using the Magic Loop technique for the first time.

Socks can be made either top (cuff) down or toe up.  Top down starts at the cuff and is then knit down the leg, heel, foot, and ends with the toe.  Conversely, toe up socks start at the toe and are knit up the foot, heel, leg, and end with the cuff. Previously, I had made all my socks cuff down on double-pointed needles (DPN).  The other needle option is using either two short circular needles or one long one.  Knitting two socks at once on one long circular needle is called the Magic Loop (ML) method.  It is great for making socks when you aren't sure how much yarn you have because you can work on both socks at the same time and, if you start at the toe, can keep knitting up the leg until you run out of yarn.  Cuff down construction means that you might run out of yarn and not yet be finished knitting the foot or toe.  Not good!

The lace pattern wasn't really difficult so much as it was just different from what I had done before.  Lace involves making holes in the sock.  In this case, the holes are placed in diagonal lines to make a neat-o design that I love.

With my September challenge finished I am already looking forward to October's.  One of the choices for October is to make a pair of men's socks and Mike has asked to be the recipient.  He wants Colts socks.  Since he wear a size 16 shoe, I'll probably be making my first pair of socks with worsted weight yarn!  Normally socks are made with fingering weight.  It is very fine, thin yarn to make small stitches.  Worsted weight is a mid-weight yarn that, being thicker, knits up much quicker than fingering.  It will make a thicker sock as well which is fine for the ones Mike wants as he doesn't intend to wear them with shoes, just around the house during Colts games.


You're not going to believe this...

More socks!  I know, I know, shocking.  I blame the chilly evenings for putting me in the mood to knit sock after sock lately.

Here's the amazing thing to me:  Last year about this time, I was making a pair of socks a week, doing alterations, coaching cross country, and teaching.  Now that I'm not teaching, I can't believe I used to do all that every day.  The difference?  I am happier and well-rested.  

Back to the socks!  The yarn I used is made by Rio De La Plata.  It can be a bit splitty but I still enjoy knitting with this yarn.  Beautiful colors (this colorway is called Sunset) though I have heard that the yarn can felt easily.  Hopefully through careful hand washing I will avoid that problem.

The pattern is called Twisted Hourglass and it was a free pattern through Ravelry.  Lovely design.  There is plenty going on without being overwhelmingly busy.  

I love the twisted stitches (the raised sections that squiggle down the sock), but my favorite feature of this pattern is the cable you see down the side of the leg here.

Cables are always beautiful, that's all there is to it.  These cables are particularly interesting because at the gusset (where the sock widens to accommodate the space from heel to the top of the ankle) the cable splits into two smaller cables, one coming straight down the heel, the other forming either side of the instep (top of the sock).  Nifty trick, eh?  To bad I didn't come up with that one on my own.  But it's another technique learned that I'll find a way to incorporate into other things later.  Theoretically.  ;)

The squiggles made by twisted stitches I mentioned earlier are super-simple to make, which just adds to the wonderfulness of this design.  You just knit through the back loop instead of through the front one like normal.  Easy stitch that gives a dramatic result.  What more can a knitter ask for?  (Yarn.  Always more yarn.)

This pattern was written to be knitted onto two circular needles.  I used my preferred four double-pointed needles.  This was the first time I had adjusted a pattern in that way and, happily, it wasn't complicated.

I am wearing these socks even as I write this and they are lovely.  Soft and smooshy.  In other words, everything a sock should be!


Socks for Husband

At long last, Jon received his first pair of hand-knitted socks.  He likes to say that the more I love someone, the less often that person receives handmade items from me.  There does seem to be a strange correlation there.  But correlation does not prove causation!

The sock pattern is from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.  The stitch repeat is called a railway stitch.  It is a simple pattern consisting of strictly knitted and purled stitches that results in an interesting textured fabric. 

I used Louet Gems fingering weight in caribou.  It's a soft yarn, but not as squishy as I prefer for a sock yarn.  Sometimes while knitting it felt more like string than yarn.  Yarn should have some stretch and puffiness to it, which this usually did.  But there were tight sections with almost no give whatsoever that prevents Louet from being my new favorite sock yarn.  It makes a nice sock, it just doesn't feel amazing to work with.

The worst part about knitting socks for Jon?  Size 13 feet.  I can't wait to make Mike a pair of size 16 socks.  It is amazing how much additional time it takes to knit the extra rows for a longer foot!  I was so excited to make socks for my comparably tiny feet -- because they would be smaller and also because it meant a new pair of socks for me!  :D


Revisiting Socks

After a small break in sock-making I made this pair for me.  The pattern came from Nancy Bush's book Knitting Vintage Socks.  I adjusted the pattern slightly by using only 60 stitches instead of the suggested 80.  Apparently I have narrow feet though I never thought so before I began making socks.  
The design on the sock is called a lozenge pattern.  It is a series of crisscrossing diamonds though it is a little difficult to make out in the picture unless you know what you are looking for.  I love diamond designs almost as much as I love spirals.  They are interesting to knit up and keep my interest as I go because it takes a bit of thought to figure out whether you are increasing the width of the diamond or decreasing and therefore where the purl stitches go.  I love to watch the diamonds take shape row by row.  

The yarn is by Austermann Step.  It is gorgeous, soft, squishy sock yarn.  I am in love with it and will definitely buy it again.  I got this yarn from The Loopy Ewe, my favorite yarn store.  If you are interested in visiting The Loopy Ewe online, I have a link on the right side bar under "favorite places."  You should check it out, it's awesome yarn!  The color I used for these socks is called Dune but there are loads of other equally beautiful colors made my Austermann Step.  Most or all of their yarn is self-striping.
I don't like trying to make my striped socks match exactly.  I prefer the fraternal twin look.  It gives the socks more character and makes it more obvious that I did not buy them.  Plus, Dobby would be proud.  Not being obsessive about matching exactly also prevents me from cutting off several feet of yarn in order to get to the same place in the striping patten.  Somehow I can never bring myself to cut the yarn to get to the beginning of the color sequence.  
Making this pair of socks has put me into a sock-knitting mood again.  I am now more than halfway finished with a pair for my husband too.  Yay socks!


A Jersey for Jenn

This is a jersey I customized for my sister-in-law. She recently lost her dad, who used to play minor league baseball, to cancer. My husband thought it would be more meaningful to get her a jersey like one he used to play in instead of just a card. He is so great at thinknig of gifts for people!

Jon found a jersey on ebay that was the same style as the one Jenn's dad wore to play. It had the team's name and logo on the front with a plain back. I made the letters and numbers and sewed them onto the back for the finished product pictured here.

I made the letters out of thick fusible interfacing and lining that would normally be used to line a dress. The lining was by far the closest match to the team name on the front for color and shine. It is a more flimsy material than the letters should be, but that is why I used the thick interfacing -- to make up for the thin lining.

To start, I traced the letters from the computer screen (we don't have a printer) from a font I downloaded at Abstract Fonts. The font matched the lettering on the players' jerseys very closely. The only difference was the curves, like in a "C" or "S" were softer on the actual jerseys. Not something a normal person would notice anyway. Just a crazy person like me. ;)

Next I cut out the characters from the tracing paper and traced them onto the interfacing. I cut those out and fused big squares of the red material onto the lettered interfacing. Since the red was such a thin fabric, it would have been nearly impossible to cut out the letters perfectly. But bonded to the interfacing, I was able to cut away the excess and ended up with a clean-cut letter (or number, as it were).

To make sure the name was in a straight line, I put masking tape along the lower line of where I wanted the letters. I put the tape on perpendicular to the pinstripes so that it would be straight. Then it was a simple matter to sew the letters into place. The pinstripes were a big help in making sure everything was straight up and down, especially for the numbers.

We framed the jersey with a picture of Jenn's dad to give to her.
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Grkmwk's Quilt

Another LibraryThing friend recently had a baby and this is the quilt I made for her. She had told me the nursery was a jungle theme especially with monkeys and giraffes. I searched online for monkey prints and found the one I used in the block centers. It was so cute I definitely wanted to use it but I didn't buy it right away from the website. A couple of days later at JoAnn's I found the same print! I was in shock. JoAnn's never has cool stuff! I immediately bought a bunch and chose the supporting fabrics based on the monkey print. The supporting fabrics all came from Hancocks-Paducah.

The quilt ended up being about 55"x55". I was very happy with how it turned out. Sometimes it's hard to know just how much I'll like a finished product until it is a finished product. I was thrilled with this one. The blocks with the monkeys in the center are called snowball blocks. The ones with the leafy print in the center are called puss-in-corner blocks.

Here is a close-up of the monkeys. I love all their facial expressions! Too cute! The quilting is also more visible here. I did an all over zigzag because such forms are common in African art. My main goal in choosing a quilting design was not to have really obvious distracting lines running through the monkey faces. To mark the lines, I applied 1" masking tape all over the quilt in a zigzag and then quilted above and below the tape, using the tape as a guide for straight lines and corners. When applying the tape, at first I tried to measure each piece so that it was straight by the numbers. After a few attempts, I switched to making the lines look straight. That worked much better.

The binding and the back of the quilt are giraffe print. It took me ages to find a giraffe print. I looked in local fabric stores and combed the internet with no luck. After about a week of searching, I was at a quilter's guild meeting and a fellow member passed around a catalog for Hancocks-Paducah. I thumbed through the catalog with very little hope of finding a giraffe print but behold! They had two different kinds! I've been a loyal customer ever since. The corner pictured also has my signature, which I stitched in the same light color as the giraffe print, making it blend in like a giraffe in the shade. Later I wondered whether I should have used green or orange thread, but too late for second guessing myself. The quilt has been shipped and received.
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Rissa's Quilt

I made this quilt for a friend who just had a baby and wanted the baby's theme to be pirates. The finished size is roughly 45"x55". I believe in big baby quilts.

The first fabric I found for this quilt was the blue pirate print, most visible on the outer border in this picture. It was flannel, and while I hadn't set out to make a flannel quilt, the print was perfect. There didn't seem to be many options in cotton pirates, so flannel pirates it was!

Each block is a little ship. The aqua fish print in the lower left corner is the water, the red stripe is the ship's hull, and the upper two triangles make up the sails. The blue pirate print sail is the fabric I first found for this quilt.

I machine quilted a skull and crossbones design into each block to give individual blocks more attention. Looking at the whole quilt, the red begs for attention so I wanted to put more focus into each ship block. An overall quilting motif would have blended the blocks into each other even more.

The skull and crossbones quilting is also visible here towards the left. The black print is the back of the quilt with my label in the corner. I embroidered the label by hand.

I machine pieced and quilted this so it could withstand going through the wash often.

Having made this following my huge king-sized quilt, it seemed to go quickly. Of course, this is only about a quarter of the size of the bed quilt. I cut out the pieces in late February but prom season interrupted all sewing-for-fun plans. I pieced, assembled, quilted, and bound the quilt in just a couple of days once I had most of the prom dresses finished and out of the house. I mailed it the day before the baby was born, which is good timing considering most of the quilters I know have baby quilts still in progress for babies turning 2 or 3 years old.
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Socks Lately

Moving rather interrupted all craftiness, but here are two projects I completed just before the move:

These socks have cables that weave within each other all down the sock. I made them for a LibraryThing friend who wanted to give them to his wife for her birthday. The yarn was lovely to work with -- it's by Cherry Tree Hill, so that's not especially surprising.

Pictures don't do these socks justice. I think I need a new camera. :)

These were for another LibraryThing friend who got a blurb from her review published on the back cover of a book. I thought such an accomplishment deserved a pair of socks!

Once again, I'm not thrilled with the pictures. The pattern has little bunches that bring the surrounding stitches closer so that they sort of fan out towards the top, but it's difficult to make out the effect from the photos.

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Herringbone Spiral Socks

The pillars and ladders socks went to my landlord and these ones went to his wife.

The stitch pattern for these socks is a multiple of six.  It's just *k3, s3wyif*.  I used 66 stitches to make them the correct diameter.  They have a nice amount of stretch to them and hug the foot well.  

In the background of the picture you'll see the chaos of packing.  I finished these the week we were moving.  Jon and I are now in our new house and loving it!  It is inspiring so many projects I can't wait to start!  


Cushions Complete!

All twelve of the cushions are now finished! The whole pile is pictured just below. They certainly look better than they did dressed all in orange vinyl.

The cushions on the bottom of the stack have wooden undersides. I'm not really sure whether these are the seats or the backs, though I think they are the backs. The seats, it seems to me, are the thinner ones on top.

The cording on the edges of the cushions was my least favorite part. I removed the cotton cords from inside the original material and resheathed them with the new fabric. That takes time!

This is the wooden side of the taller cushions. The original fabric being vinyl, it was just nailed down. But an unfinished edge of this material would have frayed, so I cut these out with a larger seam allowance than the originals and tucked about a half inch under before nailing them down with upholstery tacks.

I have made the process of old (pictured in a post below) to new look much too easy. Perhaps I should have photographed the messy part of dissecting the original cushions and cutting out these ones. No matter: the project is complete! On to the next one!
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Pillars and Ladders Socks

I just finished these tonight, but they have been on my needles for quite some time.  The plan at the moment is to give them to my landlord.  Jon and I have lived at the farm for four and a half years and are now finally buying our own house.  Socks aren't much of a thanks-for-four-years gift, but I know they'll be appreciated.

For Christmas I always made them something.  Last year I made them a Christmas-themed quilt.  It would have made more sense to save the quilt for a thank you gift, but I didn't realize at the time Jon and I would find a house so soon!  So these will go to Jim and I will go yarn shopping tomorrow to find the perfect yarn for Marilynn.  Huzzah!  A perfect reason to go to the local yarn shop!  

The PDF pattern for these socks, which use only knit and purl stitches, is on Ravelry as Pillars and Ladders.  


Spiral Socks

These are not recent, but since I have the pattern written out I am posting them. This was the first sock pattern that I made up myself.   

The socks use twisted stitches that slowly move around the sock, resulting in a spiral.  I used a left-twist for one sock and a right-twist for the other so that they spiral either together or apart, depending on which foot the sock is worn. 

The pattern is available as a PDF on Ravelry.com through this link. Though I am hoping to have separate blog pages for patterns soon.  Happy knitting (or viewing)!

Spiral Sock Pattern
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Upholstery is not my calling

Around Christmas, I was asked if I would reupholster these cushions:

Well, no one could argue they needed it. But it wasn't just these two. There are six like the ones pictured (seat cushions) and six that are a slightly different shape for the seat backs. All twelve were the same lovely vinyl material. I agreed to do the work and am now just two cushions away from finished.

This project has reminded me that upholstery is not my favorite task. It's really the cording that I find distasteful. The cording goes around the edges and is quite typical for any upholstered item, which is why upholstery as a genre is low on my favorites list.

Really the cushions have not been as bad as I dreaded when I took the job. Though I am being slower at finished than I anticipated. My goal is to have the last ones done by the end of the week! The church is probably starting to miss their chairs.
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A Quilt for Me!

I have been quilting for about a year and a half and have made ten quilts in that time. This is the first one I am keeping for myself; the others have gone to family or coworkers. The block is called a disappearing 9-patch. It starts out as a large, normal 9-patch block, which is then cut into four equal smaller blocks and turned in different directions to give it the scrappy look here. There are more geometrical ways to organize the blocks, but I have done organized. I wanted to do random.

This is also the first time I have done a quilt with scraps. Some of the pieces were not actually scraps, as I purchased them specifically for this quilt, but close enough. In order not to become too scattered with my color choices, I selected a blue and a green fabric that I loved and built from those two pieces. This ensured that my color palate had a common base, preventing weird greens from being incorporated. Greens can be particularly tricky to match!

I enjoyed making the blocks and putting them together. Since some of the squares had colors that weren't perfect blends with others, I laid every block out on the floor and intentionally chose which block to put where and with what orientation. Once I had the top sewed together (instead of sprawling across the floor), I wasn't sure if I liked it. It looked like I had perhaps overdone the random scrappy effect. But I took the top to the local quilt shop to choose borders. I was not encouraged when she was honest and said "I never would have put those colors together." But once I chose borders (which took me about an hour and a half) and sewed them on, I liked the top a whole lot better.

This second picture is a close up to show the quilting design. I have long been obsessed with oblong leaves that are wide and round at the base and angular at the top. Many of the prints in this quilt were floral or vines, so I used a leafy design for the quilting. 
This was the first time I did meandering, and I love the result.

I hand-embroider my signature which is in the third picture. It is my initials, modeled after something J.R.R. Tolkien did. On the spine of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, he has his initals stylized to look like an elvish symbol. I love this and designed my signature after that idea. I also put the year in which I completed the quilt.

The third picture also shows the borders better. They really pulled in all the colors I had used to tame the wild top.
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How lovely to have a reader!  Mostly this will be a journal of what I've made.  Theoretically, I will provide patterns when I make one ... if I've recorded enough information during the creation process to reproduce a pattern someone else can follow.