Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sock #1 Reincarnation

A couple of days ago I shared with you my first sock in all its mis-shapen glory. My first thought was to make it into a sap. It seemed pretty easy... just fill it with buckshot and throttle any bad guys that come close enough to hit.

There was just one small problem with that idea.

My huge sock filled with buckshot would have been too heavy to pick up and use.

On to Plan B.

My next idea was to make into a knitting tool bag.

Small problem here as well. I already have a lot of knitting tool holders... some I have made and some I have bought. I really don't need another tool holder as all my tools are in holders.

On to Plan C.

Then inspiration struck. I have a pair of sun glasses that are huge. They fit over my regular glasses and can be easily scratched when tossed into my purse or tote bag. This is what I came up with:

I lined the sock with some leftover fabric, added a channel for a draw string and make a twisted cord from some of the leftover yarn as a closure.

The sock is a little big for the sun glasses. I used it the other day and had an inquiry from another woman in line as to where I had bought it. I guess, in this case, size doesn't matter.

If your first sock will never have a mate, find a re-use for it. Grab some fabric, make a lining and add a closure. Then you can look around and see if anything will fit. A little backwards from my concept but it will probably surprise you at how much stuff will fit in your Sock #1.

BTW - all the scratches on the table top under the sock are from Alex and the Girls using that table to watch out the upstairs window for any exciting happenings outside. If anything exciting does comes by, they scrabble off the table to run and bark out the downstairs window. Those little nails are really sharp, thus the scratches.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Korean Patchwork

Korea has a long history of patchwork, however it appears to still be a much ignored domestic art. Pojabi (Korean wrapping cloths) are made from fabric scraps and used to wrapgifts and other items. When my brother, who has been in South Korea this past year, asked his Korean colleagues about getting one for me they could not understand why someone would want such a humble object.

Not discouraged, my brother then went to a museum in Seoul (maybe this one?) to look for wrapping cloths to purchase and came up with two very American looking patchwork embellished examples of Jogakbo (Korean Patchwork). Both appear to be made of traditional log cabin blocks, but on closer inspection there is a wonderful randomness in the width of the fabrics and the placement of the colors.

This is a small table mat that appears to be made out of heavy weight cottons.

This is a reversible scarf made out of silks.

Both examples are beautifully made and seem typical of Korean Patchwork.
Not exactly wrapping cloths as they are definitely decorative rather than functional but I do love them both and hope to wear the scarf soon to the envy of all my friends.

BTW, Little Brother is on this side of the Pacific for about a month and spent last weekend wth me. It was strange to have someone in my home who has many mannerisims that were my father's... heck he even uses some of the same phrases and tone of voice that used to drive me crazy. We are definitely our parents' children!

Monday, July 27, 2009


AI a recent Quilt Shop Hop the stores were giving out sewing related, sterling silver charms. The idea was that the shoppers would visit all eleven stores, spend $20.00 in each and come home with 11 charms and a bracelet from the final store visited. I didn't make it to all the stores nor can I wear silver very often so I needed something to do with the charms that I did collect.

I had an inspiration and hope that you agree that my solution was a good one.

Here's what I came up with:

Yup. I now have five new stitch markers.

Who says quilting and knitting don't work together?

So, if you find some random little charm thingies hanging around waiting for some inspiration, buy yourself some jump rings and make them into stitch markers. They will be very useful in keeping track of your stitches and totally unique.
Have a good week!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sock #1

Every knitter that has attempted socks seems to have a sock Number 1, the First Sock, the one that will never have a mate but, also, the one that makes you think all things are possible.

Sock #1 for me was made from a generic style sock pattern from the yarn store. I used the needles and yarn specified and made a sock that would fit godzilla and would best be recycled into a deadly weapon. It was a small disaster but I came away from the experience believing that I could made a sock that would fit. Here's how it came out laid out next to a more recent attempt:
I must confess that I made the leg of the sock much shorter than the instructions required as I was weary of the ribbing pattern. I have no idea why the heeel looks deformed, why the toe decrease are half on top of the foot and half on one side or why the foot is so huge compared to a more recent sock even though they both have the same number of stitches but its done... which is always better than not done.

When I came across this the other day (it was buried under some truly old UFOs) I almost chucked it out in the garbage, however, I think even the biggest failure can be instructive to have around so I think I will reinvent it, not as WMD (weapon of mass destruction) but as a holder of something... like knitting thingies or marking tools.

I hope your weekend is going well. I have some family in town this weekend and I probaly won't be getting alot done. I just might snag some sewing machine time to figure out this sock pouch idea... or NOT!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Socks 10, 11, 12 & 13

Are these not the cutest! The hairy legs on the right belong to Paul and he is wearing a pair of simple socks made out of wonderful to knit Lana Grossa sock weight yarn in the Sunset color. I wanted a pair of red socks and these fit the bill ... sort of! They are really more pink than anything. I experimented with a heel flap that is not just plain knitting but includes an extra yarn to make a stronger heel that will take longer to wear out. I also used a different toe pattern that makes a more squared off toe that is Kitchener stitched together. They are pretty comfortable with that extra cushioning in the heel and with a squared off toe. I can't wait to wear them with jeans this fall. These are 10 and 11 in the great sock adventure.

The pale legs on the left are mine and I am wearing another simple pair of socks made out of Fortissima Socka yarn in a color called Stars and Stripes. I hate this yarn as it is pretty frizzy, but I was sucked in by the sample socks and the patriotic colors. The matching of the stripes between the two socks went well until I got into the foot. It should not make a difference when I wear them as the wacky stripes should be hidden. I used the squared off toe as in the previous socks and tried another method of stregthening the heel flap. The method I used is a stitch pattern where you slip every other stitch every knit row with the purl rows done normally. I don't know if its because I hated working with this yarn or that the pattern seemed pretty lame but I so liked the doubled yarn stregthening in the previous socks that I may keep with that method. These are socks 12 & 13 in the great sock adventure.

Both pairs of socks washed and dryed beautifully even when mistakenly combined with some gross towels that were saturated with Alex's laest intestinal distress. That meant they were washed in hot water and dryed on the higest temperature availble. They still came out great which says I probably should not worry about maintenance.

The left over yarns are being used up in making little tiny hats for pre-mature babies. There are so cute! They are even too small for the dogs. I will try to take a picture of them when I get a critical mass to donate.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cool Ties - Update

After the Interfaith Quilting Bee on Saturday morning, several of us gathered at the Emlgorve Community Room to make Cool Ties for those lacking A/C in Houston. I had completed about 40 of them before the event and the group completed another 90. That makes about 130 of them I can give to the woman who is organizing this project for the city of Houston.
Pretty Impressive pile isn't it?

We used up about 17 yards of fabric in a variety of prints from a cute white and light blue to a more somber brown and cream print. We could use nice prints because these are not made for the troops overseas who require dull, unobstrusive fabrics.

A few of those helping out today made a few for their family's use and I expect to see some on lawn mowing husbands or motorcycle riding babes in the near future.

The goal is for 2,500 cool ties to be made and distirbuted... a huge number that seems to dwarf our efforts today. I hope others will be inspired by our efforts and complete the rest of the number needed in the next week or so.
You can make some for the needy in your area or for your own family and friends. The instructions are here. To finish them off, all you need to do is find the water absorbing crystals, determine how much to use (I use 2 teaspoons of the 'Soil Soak' brand availabe at my local Lowes hardware store) then sew up the opening. To use you need to soak the whole thing in cool water, store in a zip lock bag in the refridgerator, tie one on when doing outdoor work and enjoy!

I want to make special mention of the women who turned out today. Lish, Janetta, Fonda, Marjory, Joyce and Betty, many of whom had spent the morning at the Interfaith Quilting Bee, continued their sewing day with this project. I hope they realise how much their generosity of both time and talent will make a difference in the lives of fellow Houstonians. You all humble me with your dedication to projects for which recognition is almost non-existent but the impact is huge. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Interfaith Quilting Bee

This was the 18th year of the Interfaith Quilting Bee, the 9th hosted by the local Mormon Stake. Of the 366 quilts donated donated, many of which were finished during the Bee itself, about 64 of them were made by members of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild. The Guild also donated a roll of batting. There was a lot of donated fabric and blocks for the various groups represented to take and use for next year's quilts.

There were about 100 people gathered to complete quilts and the groups getting the quilts spanned the globe.

I was a little frazzled and did not get anything completed. I had three quilts from the Once Upon a Time Bee that needed binding and I got only one almost completed because my travel sewing machine was unhappy. When I tried to figure out what was wrong I realized that the thing was clogged with all sorts of lint from other projects. I need to spend some time getting it back into shape before I use it for quilting again.

A light lunch was serveds which included some delicious cake.

Once again I was impressed by the dedication and committment of the groups represented to support this project. Almost 400 quilts is pretty impressive for a one time donation to the local charities needing them. Next year there are plans to change the focus of the event from just quilts to include other activites. I'm not sure how or what will happen, I just hope that the day will not change its tone so much that participation will be reduced.

I guess we will just have to see.

I hope your weekend is going well. Kingwood had a huge thunderstorm late in the day and we really needed the rain. More is predicted for the next few days and the only down side is that the grass in the backyard has decided to start growing again. I guess I wil need to get out the lawn mower tomorrow to take care of that little task. At keats lawn mowing a typical Sunday task in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Calling All Houston Area Charity Sewers

I mentioned previously that a local woman has initiated a project to provide the needy in Houston with Cool Ties this summer. I've already made about 40 of these, without the filling, and this pattern is a very quick sew. The pattern is here and if you would like to make these on your own, the tests I have done show that two teaspoons of the water absorbing crystals available from Lowes make a nicely filled tie. After you soak the Cool Tie, put it in a zip lock bag and put it in fridge. It will always be ready for your use when you next mow the grass or weed the garden.

Now to business....

The Elmgrove Comminty Room in Kingwood is available this Saturday, July 18, from 1:00 - 4:00 PM for sewing these ties. You don't even need to bring fabric, just a sewing machine or a serger with your usual supplies. Snacks are always welcome.

The Elmgrove Community room is in Kingwood. If you are traveling here, go North on Highway 59 and exit at North Park Dr. just after the exit for Kingwood Drive. Going right/east on North Park, continue to the lights at Bookdale. Turn left/north onto Brookdale and take the first left onto Sycamore Springs. At the first stop sign take another left onto Clear Ridge and enter the first parking lot on your right at the community pool or park on the street. The Community Room is on the right.

This is a city wide project. You don't need to be a member of any sewing/crafting group. Just come out and meet like-minded people for a few hours of sewing goodness.

Hope to see you there!

If you have any questions or need a number to call when you get lost, please e-mail me at anjoae at msn dot com and I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Hot Blossom Tote

The July Tote project from Stitchin' Heaven uses Hot Blossom fabrics by Josephne Kimberling for Robert Kaufman to make a huge , curvy bucket style tote bag. The pattern is free from several sites and includes a pattern for a cute little coin purse.

The pattern is pretty straight forward but that didn't stop me from changing it to meet my individual needs. Here's what I came up with:
The curvy shape is simple delicious. I added ties on the sides to accentuate the curviness and to make the top opening smaller. Without the ties the opening is a 6" x 11" , with the ties tied tightly the opening about 2" x 11". Untied this bag could hold a whole shopping trip of purchases, at least two shoe boxes of goodies, tied it still holds quite a lot, just with a smaller opening. Other adjustments included using fusible fleece on the front and back instead of interfacing, quilting the front and back panels and the addition of Timtex in the bottom and half way up the sides for a firmer bottom. I did add a hanging cell phone pocket and no other pockets are included.
I made the coin purse before I made the bigger bag. That was a good choice on my part as it gave me some time to experiment with the tiny ruffles. The coin case is supposed to be closed with a magnetic catch which seemed odd to me so I use a little zipper as a closure. Its cute but I think I should make another if I ever gave this away.
The magazine included this month was the magazine with its annual top ten quiilt shops. I always enjoy that issue as it is fun to see shops that you can't physically visit. Also, each shop designs a quilt that generally is easy and a neat varation on an old favorite.

I am still enjoying this monthly program and can't wait to see what they come up with each month. I was shopping the other day at Dillard's while carrying the Simply 'Bow'dacious bag from this program. The buyer came up to me and wanted to know where I got the bag and if I had others to sell to her. I am not a production sewer so this opportunity will probably pass but I certainly left with a bounce in my step. When I got home I did look at my stash in a different way.

I hope your week is going well. I am still praying for rain and with any luck tomorrow thunderstorms will bring a few needed inches of rain. Wish I knew a rain dance.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Signs of a Stroke

Okay, I'm not a medical professional but a buddy of mine sent me an e-mail with three tests anyone can perform to determine if someone has had a stroke. All you need to do is remember the first three letters of the word stroke.

Here they are:

S - Ask the person to smile and/or say a simple declaratve sentence like 'It's sunny outside today.'
T - Ask the person to stick out their tongue
R - Ask the person to raise both arms

If the suspected stroke victim is unable to do one or more of these tasks in a normal way... like their tongue twists to one side, or one arm won't move or their smile is off... it could be that they have had a stroke and you need to get them to the hospital ASAP. There can be other reasons for these symptoms but it's best to let the professionals figure it out.

Just thought you'd like to know.

And thanks to Barbara for the information.


I was watching an old movie the other night and began to yearn for the good old days of air travel. When I first travelled by air, luggage allowances were not even considered, you dressed up for the trip, they gave out chewing gum to help with the air pressure changes and there was a lot of leg and butt room in the seats.

Now you worry about carrying too much stuff, wear your most comfortable clothing, carry on your own food and drinks and hope that the person next to you is very small and that the person in front of you does not want to take a nap.

And let us not forget all the security procedures. Oh, how I long for the days when you showed someone your ticket and walked onto the plane. Now you run a security gauntlet that may have stopped some terrorist attempts but I am not a terrorist so why waste time on screening me when the real bad guys are more clever than most of the TSA staff I have met.

Air travel has become such a chore that I want to avoid it when ever I can. I'd rather drive a couple of thousand miles than subject myself to another tortured flight.

I could make an exception, however, if I had fabulous luggage that would make the TSA and all my fellow travellers green with envy. I found the Saddleback Leather site earlier and I want whatever they are selling. Hop over and see their very basic, simply cafted, all leather luggage and accessories. No fancy logos, no extra comparments, no weird colors... just basic leather luggage.

While everyone else at the check-in desk or at the security screening is having their black cordura nylon bags examined, how cool would it be to put one of these naturally aged pieces on the conveyor belt. Even if you are flying coach you would feel very first class.

In these economic times spending a small fortune on luggage is a bit of an extravagence but I wish I knew about these guys when I was flying almost every week for business. Guaranteed for one hundred years I would have saved a lot on on luggage and other travel items that fell apart after only 20 or 30 trips.

And doesn't it seem that if you are carrying any of Saddleback's items that you would meet a tall, dark, mysterious secret agent in the next seat rather than the fat, sweaty guy who is usually there?

One can dream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Babies and Bears Sweater

Way back in April, I wrote about my troubles with the Babies and Bears Sweater for Grown-Ups that I had seamed up the back with the upper left neckline attached to the lower right bottom. I finally got all of my Kitchener Stitching undone and re-did the back center seam. It looks even worse now than it did before... like shredded wool mushed together up the back.


it is now done... buttons were added and it actually fits.. not perfectly but pretty close so I could actually wear it out and about as long as no-one sees the back it should work.

Here it is with the cute little buttons.. sideways for some reason.....

And the back of the sweater with the ugly center back seam... also sideways.

Another UFO off the pile and into the rotation for when ever it turns cool enough here to wear a sweater.

This sweater was a breeze to knit. It is knit in two pieces starting from the cuffs and ending in the center back. You then close up the back seam and add about 10 rows of knitting around the bottom, up the front and around the neck. The sleeves are done in stockinette stitch while the body is done in garter stitch which makes it all very easy.

I used very inexpensive Wool Ease yarn from Lion Brand and it was on sale when I bought it. The only difficulty was getting enough balls of the same dye lot which I solved by going for the two tone look. It washes like a breeze so this may end being a go to jacket in cooler weather.

The only thing I would change next time, is to go for a size or two larger because I think it work better as a slouchy swearer rather than a fitted one.
The pattern was well written and well illustrated. I picked up another one of theirs called Kyler's Kardigan which includes all sizes from a size 2 child to an extra-large adult size. Its also done mostly in garter stitch and looks like a easy knit as well. Twisted Yarns in having a big sale this week so I just may have to go over there and pick up some fancy yarn for this sweater or for another try at the Babies and Bears Sweater for Adults.

If you see Cottage Creations patterns in your local yarn shop, pick up one of their patterns. I think you will enjoy the style and have good results.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mini Miranda Day Bag

The April (yes, that's right April!) tote bag project from Stitchin' Heaven was the Mini Miranda Day Bag. When it came in the mail I immeadiately took an un-natural dislike to the fabrics sent. I don't know why but I just couldn't see myself working with another Art Decoish, abstract floral in light blue. I went over to one of the local quilt stores (The Quilt Room in Huffman) and, after scouring their clearance bolts, came up with another light blue but this time in a homespun type plaid and striped fabrics.
I decided to make a couple of changes to the pattern. I added iron-on vinyl to the base so that I wouldn't end up soiling the bag when resting it on the floor and added a zipper closure for security. I did add the flap closure but turned it into something purely decorative by adding some buttons I had hanging aorund here to keep it from flapping about when the tote is in use.

I also made a huge mistake in cutting the base fabric. Some how my pea brain did not notice that the grid marked on the paper backing of the iron-on vinyl was marked in centimeters and not inches. I cut the vinyl, the fabric and the fusible fleece (instead of batting and interfacing) based on the markings on the vinyl backing. Needless to say sixteen centimeters does not equal sixteen inches. When I discovered my error I was into the final assembly process, threw up my hands in disgust and chucked it all into the endless UFO pile I have been breeeding here.
Today was the day to get it finished up after getting more fabric for the base. I couldn't seem to find the pattern but I think I made a tolerable Mini Miranda. What do you think?
Here is the zipper closure I added at the last minute. I have seen something like this on a friend's bags and what I like about the process is that you can add a zipper this way even after a bag is made. Essentially you choose a zipper that is a couple of inches longer than the opening, add tabs to both ends, add fabric extensions to each side then sew the extensions onto the interior sides of the bag. In about ten minutes you can add a zipper to an open bag and know that you stuff will not fall out of your bag. Pretty cool idea Pat!

Here's the interior. I did add the pockets as shown in the pattern and did not add a hanging cell phone pocket. Who know my likes and dislikes in a tote bag could change so quickly. Now I don't add pockets and do add a hanging cell phone pocket.

I hope your weekend is going well and that none of your projects end up in the UFO pile.

Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yard Work

Before the June drought, when my area got less than 1/3 of an inch of rain, I spent every day working on my front yard plantings. Not that I am a big gardener but I do enjoy getting my hands dirty once in a while. There is a large 'garden' in my front yard that had turned to weeds and grass over the past couple of years due to a mis-directed clean-up effort of mine that removed all of the pine needle mulch and replaced it with standard bark mulch.

I have now learned my lesson.... pine bark mulch only lets you see the weeds better while pine needle mulch really kills weeds. Besides, pine needle mulch is free when you have a few large pines trees in the yard providing the mulch.

My goal was to weed the front garden, divide the liriope (monkey grass) to fill in any holes plus plant some perennials and a couple of little bushes all topped off with about 800 pounds of rocks over landscape cloth to provide a path to my bird bath.

Some of what I planted did not make it through the lack of rain but most of what I planted seems to be working on gaining a foothold in the planting area.

Here's how overgrown the liriope had grown in the foundation planting area..

and here is what it looked like thinned out
The bird bath was in the backyard but was not getting much use due to the dogs so it is now in the front yard and has been getting quite a work out. I have had this for years and some day I will figure out how to keep the black stuff from coming back without poisioning the birds. The little circular disk is used to prevent mosquito breeding.
The little white flowers below are supposed to be daisies but they don't seem to like the heat. I hope they getting bigger is it would be nice to have some tall flowers in this area.

Here's a little planting near the front door. I didn't do much here except thin the shrimp plants. That big old rock came from a yard of a former home of mine that the movers moved, ever so carefully to this home. You should have seen all the protection that was provided for its transport!

I think I am done digging in the yard until it cools off again. Every few days I venture out early in the morning to pull more weeds and errant grasses. And,yes, I have been watering (even though it kills me to put drinking water on the yard) so I have lost only a little from the lack of rain. The biggest problem seems to be that the squirrels really like the little bushes and have been burying stuff under them. Also, Alex has been providing his own watering and that has caused a couple of losses.

All in all I'm pretty proud of the revamped front garden. Not a designer garden but definitely an improvement.

I wonder what I will do in the Fall to improve on the work from this Spring?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Things I Don't Understand #7,614

I have had a headache for the past two weeks along wih ringing ears and other annoyances. My doctor decided that an MRI was indicated to find the source of the problem. Since drugs are not helping I was all for this test.

Well, it wasn't one test... it was four! They took about an hour strapped on a little table with my head immobilized.

Here comes what I don't understand... why, when the underlying complaint is headache, does that machine have to make so many loud noises? Not just one noise but a whole series of thumps, screams, hoots and warnings coupled with a series of vibrations, jiggles and jolts from the table itself?

I think I came out in worse shape than I went into that machine... and my head still hurts, but worse than before.

I just don't understand...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Glorious Fourth

The Fourth of July around here is supposed to be a celebration on the founding of the USA. About 400 plus days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, the Declaration of Independence was published and the words wring true today. Annually, National Public Radio ( NPR) does a recitation of the complete document and I am always moved by it. ....When in the Course of human events..... always makes my skin tingle. Hear is a link to the reading from this year.

The reading was on Friday, the third and that was it for my traditional observance of the holiday.

Why you ask am I not burning up some meat, watching a parade or viewing fireworks?

Well, it's fricking one hundred degrees in my backyard and the heat index is about one hundred and ten. See>>>>>>>>

Who in their right mind would fire up the grill with it so hot around here?
Parade watching in this weather is only for those with someone in the parade, not sensible middle-aged ladies.
Fireworks? The only fireworks I'll see are the Star Gazer Lillies that just bloomed. They smell heavenly, look great in a big vase and can be enjoyed indoors... in the air conditining.

Another theme that seems to be going on in recognition of the holiday is the overwhelming use of Red, White and Bue on ever surface possible. I didn't even put my patriotic wreath on the front door.

Instead, I turned on the TV, found a reasonably bland movie and started up a pair of patriotic socks.
Cute, right?

I hope the weather was better where you are and that your celebration included something traditional. If not, go listen to that NPR broadcast, it will raise your spirits and remind you about what the holiday is really all about.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Japanese Knitting Patterns

Last weekend I got to spend about two hours with the owner of Habu Textiles learning about Japanese knitting patterns as well as viewing/trying on an extensive trunk show of garments made up from their yarns. I went because I am was extremely curious as to how you could work up some of the Japanese patterns that are very graphical and I wanted to see some of the more unusual yarns from Habu.

Let's start with the yarns.

These people will take anything and make it into yarn. From traditional wool and linen to stainless steel and paper, Habu has it all. I could spend a month trying to explain what they feel like but by trying on several garments I discovered that the more unusual yarns are really, really irritating to wear. Other participants were thirlled with the feel but I just don't want some of these yarns ever touching my skin.

The more traditonal yarns feel like yarns from others with the only difference being that Habu's tend to be a finer gauge. Some people brought works in progress and in every case I saw, the yarns were used at least doubled together.

I already own some of their silk yarn and I am making it up into a skinny summer scarf. Not a Habu/Japanese pattern just something I found on the internet. The yarn is a little sticky feeling but I think it will wash and wear just fine.

If you would like to work with their yarns, do not buy it without actually feeling something made out of it.

Then there were the patterns. All of them are simply fabulous for an old hippy like myself. Very little fitting, unusual shapes and very drapey. The fortunate part is that the patterns are traditional Japanese patterns but modified by Habu to include some English words, a couple of pages of explanations plus a speadsheet to help the knitter work out the row increases and decreases before you start kntting.

What that means is that you have a high probability in getting the pattern worked correctly.

The bad thing is that the skills to work the Habu patterns are not totally transferable to non-Habu Janpanese patterns because the traditional patterns have no English on them.

The main difference betwen Jaanese and American patterns is that the Japanese patterns are graphical while the American patterns tend to be more narrative. Here is a link to Japanese pattern site that translates the graphics to a more American style. Compare those pattern pictures to something like -

Round 1: K all sts on needle, pick up and k 2 sts along edge of work; remove waste yarn from CO and place live sts on a spare needle, k these sts using a second needle, then pick up and k 2 sts along remaining edge of work. 26[30] sts.

Can you see how it would all drive a knitter a little crazy?

The one thing not mentioned at the workshop was that Japanese knitting needles are sized differently than US or Metric needles. To be fair, it was mentioned a zillion times that knitting a test swatch is imperative to get a successful garment. What wasn't mentioned was why.

I will keep buying Habu textiles yarns as I come up with projects for them. I will try a Japanese pattern and use what I learned at the workshop to make a successful garment. What I won't do is buy the weirder yarns for garments.

However, if I ever get the urge to make more scuptural pieces I will definitely use their stainless steel, metallic or paper yarns... just not on my body.

Have a great weekend! And to those to the North,.... Happy Belated Dominion Day while to those of us here... Have a Glorious Fourth!

Back to the Cool Ties!

Cool Ties - Errata

Just got an e-mail changing the cutting instructions. The ties should be cut five inches wide, seam allowances between 1/4" and 3/8". Also, two teaspoons of crystals seem to work well.

Just thought you'd like to know!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Women on a mission

I am always in awe of people who come up with a great idea AND follow through with it.

In this case, the wonderful Ms. Nancy, an ASG neighborhood group leader, was concerned about all the people in Houston who are wilting in the 100 degree plus weather we have been having. She remembered back to when many of us made cool ties for the troops overseas, put the thoughts together and has come up with a project to make cool ties for people who need them here in Houston.

Hard as it is to believe, there are people here who do not own an air conditioner or even a fan to help keep them cool in this weather.

Nancy not only thought the thought but she went to the most recent Houston City Council meeting to present her idea. The council was so impressed that one of the members came up with the money to buy the special crystals to fill the ties and has arranged for her to meet up with the right agencies to get the ties distributed.

Cool ties are basically long tubes made out of cotton that are filled in the middle with those crystals that expand to hold water for long term watering of plants. In this case only a little tiny bit of this product is put into the fabric tube... like only a teaspoon or two. The tube, with the crystals, is then soaked in water and tied around your neck. For an even more wonderful feeling, after soaking, put the ties into the refrigerator and wear the tie chilled.

Pure Heaven!

I am jumping on this band wagon as soon as I can as I have several I use when working outside. If we can make the ties someone else is going to fill them and the City will get them distributed. If you see a similar need in your community, or even for yourself, here are the instructions we will be using:


Step #1

· Cut a 4 ½” x 45” rectangle from 100% cotton fabric. 42” fabric will do, also.

Step #2

· Make a diagonal cut at each end.
· Mark center of your tube and leave a 4” opening to insert the crystals when the time comes to do so.
· Stitch a 1/2” seam on both sides of the 4” opening, stitching toward the pointed ends of the tie to close..
· Turn the tube right side out
· NO ironing is needed

Step #3

· Measure 11 inches from either end of the tie and sew a straight seam across the tube to separate the “body” of the tube from the ends. Go over these seams a couple of times because they serve to keep the polymer crystals from seeping into the tie ends.
· It is now time to drop off your ties to a pick-up site to be announced.
· Another group will insert the polymer crystals and close the opening. (One to three teaspoons can inserted in the pocket BUT test first. If too much is used then the crystals become mush oozing out of the fabric.)

These instructions are slightly modified from the ASG Houston Chapter site here.

Recently I was lucky enough to buy several partial bolts of quilting cottons for $10.00 a bolt. I had origianlly thought that I would use them for charity quilts but I think this is a better project for at least one of them. I know I can get at least 100 ties from some of these partial bolts so I think I had better start cutting and sewing.

I hope Nancy is over-whelmed by the response of our membership and our friends.

Take a look at your community. Is there a need for this type of cooling help? If not for the larger community, how about giving them to the service people working outside in this heat? How about making them for friends and family? I know that one tie will help keep you cool while mowing the lawn or walking the dog. Don't give just one... giver several so there is always a wet/cool one available.

I'll keep you posted on how this project turns out for us. Let me know how it works out for you.

Have a cool day!