Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lush and Plush

There are a whole series of fancy ribbon yarns out there that are meant to be joined together  into a lush boa-type scarf.  I made a white one a couple of  years ago and posted it here.  I wasn't happy with the white and thought I would dye it only to discover that a mostly polyester fiber really doesn't take dye very well.  I still have it in my scarf drawer and someday I will were it out.

But I digress.

The white scarf was made out of a yarn called Flamenco by Trendsetter Yarns and retails for about $17.00 a skein.  Not a bad price for a whole scarf  but a lot if you aren't happy with it.  Imagine my surprise when I was in Jo-Ann's the other day and saw a whole box of similar styled ribbon yarns price at $4.99 each.  Less than five bucks , especially after using a coupon, seemed like a great yarn for this type of scarf.  Here's how mine came out:

 The yarn is by Red Heart and is called Boutique Sashay.  The scarf is only six stitches wide and came out to about five feet long.  The color way is Tango and I am very pleased with the little bit of glitz in the yarn.  This one will definitely be worn..

I am glad that I did not read any reviews before I bought it though as there are lots of complaints about the quality of the yarn .. lots of complaints about breaks and worn areas.  Then again, this is not an heirloom piece so I don't expect to shed any tears if it falls apart after a few wearings.

This is great project to work on while riding in a car or watching kids' sports as there really is very little skill or ability to the knitting to get an acceptable product.

I did learn one thing while photographing this scarf.  I learned that the prickly vines really do hurt for a long time when they rub against your legs.  OUCH!  I will try to watch my step next time.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Urbanista Hobo

At the American Sewing Guild Conference last weekend I took a class with Cheryl Kuczek on handbag techniques and was introduced to her patterns at Paradiso Designs.  She is a good teacher and I so enjoyed her breezy style.  No hard and fast rules for her but suggestions on what is an easier way to do things or where you could skimp on supplies.  Her use of fake leather and suede and iron-on vinyl, while not unique, was a revelation to me in the variety of uses these materials could be put.  I picked up three of her patterns and a couple of days ago i made her Urbanista Hobo bag.

As is typical with Hobo bags it is fairly unstructured with a flat bottom and a lot of interior pockets.  No top closure is included but you could easily add one.  Here's what that pattern shows and this is how mine turned out:


The fabric is a juvenile  canvas weight print from Jo-Ann's and so is the fake leather (pleather).  The canvas was very easy to work with and how could I resist the puppies cavorting all over it.   I only made a couple of changes from the original pattern.  I turned one of the divided pockets in the interior into one large zipper pocket and I made the slots on the side for the handles into a simple welt pocket where Cheryl used a more complex construction.  The more complex construction would have meant using more top stitch thread than I had so I went simple.
The interior is dog bone fabric and a red bit of Kona from my stash.  Heck, even the zipper on the pocket on the right came from my stash.  I think the whole thing cost less than $10.00 in supplies and that was because I had to buy some sew-in fleece.





I had intended that this would replace my worn out library book bag (a heavy duty Scnlepp bag)  but now I am thinking it would make a great knitting bag or a great errand bag or....  There are a lot of possibilities.  Check out Paradiso Designs for some interesting patterns for both bags and other things.  I think you will be pleased.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weave in ends and block.

Those are dreaded words for most knitters that come at the end of most knitting patterns. 'Weave in ends' is not the biggest issue but BLOCK can make me shiver with dread.

Blocking is the last step before you get to wear a knitted garment.  The goal is to get the item nice and flat and all those stitches evened out, with the flat parts flat and the puffy parts (think nups) puffy.

There are basically four ways to block an item:

  1. Throw it in the washer and dryer,
  2. Throw it in the washer and lay flat to dry,
  3. Soak it/wash it by hand then steam it to size or
  4. Soak it/wash it by hand then pin it to size. 

First you need to decide which way you want to wash it.  If you know the content of your yarn that can be pretty easy.  Anything that is 75% or more acrylic or 100% cotton can be safely thrown into the washer and dryer and it will turn out fine.  Acrylic and cotton yarns are simple because there is nothing you can do to make it get into a shape that it does not already have.  Anything with less acrylic or cotton should be tested.  Testing can be done successfully with your tension/gauge swatch.  You do make make tension swatches for every project, right?

Some yarns you just know should not be washed and dried in your  laundry machines.  100% wool will felt in the washer and dryer no matter how you handle it.  If you want felt, that is all well and good but if you don't, please avoid the laundry room.  Many super wash wools ask you to wash in the machine but dry outside of the machine.  Fancy yarns usually like you to handle them more carefully...hand wash and pinning.   Lets look at the four ways of blocking your project.

1.  THROW IT IN THE WASHER AND DRYER

This is not an official blocking method but it is useful to know.  This is the simplest way to block something but there are a couple of cautions.  First don't use hot water or cold water.  Room temperature or tepid water are just fine.  Most cottons will bleed color so don't put your best white blouse into the same wash...unless your knitting is white.  I also toss in a few color catchers to soak up that extra color.  Do not use your toughest cycle, normal or permanent press cycles only.  Acrylic items tend to dry just fine on normal and permanent press dryer cycles while heavy cotton items sometimes need extra drying time.

2,  THROW IT IN THE WASHER AND LAY FLAT TO DRY

This is how I handle super wash wool items and most anything with 25% acrylic content.  I generally do my socks this way.  I will wash them in a normal wash in the washing machine with other knit items then dry them on sock stretchers.  Sometimes though I have found that the strecthiness of the socks just doesn't come back after washing and blocking on stretchers.  When that happens I wash them again and put them right into dryer.

3.  SOAK IT/WASH IT BY HAND THEN STEAM TO SIZE

This is the way I handle odd shaped items that should never go into the washing machine. It is also the way I wash my hand embroidered items like cross stitch or linen work. Think of all-wool sweaters or odd shaped wool shawls and you get the idea.  In this instance. you fill up the kitchen sink with tepid/room temperature water and some gentle liquid soap.  I use liquid dish soap or Soak.  I prefer liquid dish soap even if I have to rinse it a lot because sometimes perfumed Soak makes my nose unhappy.  Gently immerse your item into the sink after the soap has dissolved and leave it for several hours.  You may gently agitate it every once in a while but the important thing is to let it soak for an extended period.  This will relax the yarn and make it easier to flatten it all out. Remember to wait for several hours before going on.

Gently remove your item from the soap bath and gently rinse it in tepid water until the soap has been removed.  Gently squeeze out excess water and lay out your item on a large bath towel roughly in the shape that your want it to take.  Roll up the towel around your item and leave it to damp dry for a few hours.

Unwrap your towel and lay your item on a flat surface that is water resistant and heat proof...I use my big ironing board.  Gently tug your item into shape and press it flat with a steam iron.  I put the iron down then pick it straight up and press the next section.  I start at those edges that may be curled from knitting and work on them before going on to the body of the item.

Let the item rest flat covered by another towel or two overnight until completely cool.  Store your item folded or flat on a shelf, out of the sun but exposed to air.

4.  SOAK IT/WASH IT BY HAND THEN PIN IT TO SIZE

This is the preferred method for blocking those lacy shawls made out of wool that we all love to see but dread to block.  Start off the same way as the method above right up to the unwrapping from the towel.

With a spray bottle of clean water on hand, for re-wetting, if necessary, lay out your item on a flat surface.  Also have on hand blocking wires, stainless steel pins and a large pinnable surface (could be your carpet or a special mat or an extra large cutting board which is pinnable).  Carefully thread the wires through the edges stitches of your item...yes, every edge stitch.....then use the pins to pull the wires apart stretching the item to within an inch of its life.  Yes, this can take a lot of time.  Yes, it is worth it.  For curved edges just pin the tips, again stretching until well stretched.  Leave your item to air dry...usually several hours.

You could skip the wires but then you would need to pin every edge stitch as well as the pointy bits.

Remove the wires and pins and gently fold the item, matching the edges and ends together then let it rest between a couple of towels on a flat surface with a pillow or two on top of it.  Leave it over night and the next morning you will be extremely pleased with how your shawl looks.  This last step is recommended by Nancy Bush and really does make for a better product.

So that's my take on blocking knitted items.  There are hundreds of You Tube videos and articles available on the internet which have their own take on this topic but these are the four methods I use so they might be useful to you.  Some links you might enjoy are listed below:

Basic lace blocking on Knit Picks
Knitty's take on blocking (pretty funny in parts)
Knit Simple's instructions
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfwAkgtitwE - a nice video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fQitQ2j8AI&feature=related - an early Knitting Daily episode

Monday, August 6, 2012

itty-bitty hats

itty-bitty hats by Susan B. Anderson has got to be one of the best little knitting books I have ever used.  I recently got a copy as a door prize at a Knitting in Kingwood meeting and have been using it the past week or so to complete my Olympic challenge for myself.  That challenge was to knit a hat a night for the Head Start kids in Humble and this book has helped me accomplish that goal...at least so far.

This is a beginner book with nothing a beginner could not accomplish but with enough interest for the intermediate knitter.  About 80% of the hats are based on a simple beanie pattern and, although tedious to the experienced, every pattern repeats all the instructions for the basic construction.  No flipping pages to refresh your memory on how many stitches to cast on or how to make the crown shaping.  It is all there in every pattern.

It is spiral bound so it lays flat, the type face is clear, the pictures are adorable and there is enough inspiration to keep you going for a very long time.  There are about fifty pages in basic knitting instructions with lots of clear illustrations...perfect for those who want to get into knitting in the round without committing to a lot of different yarns and needles. One of the patterns is for a hat that looks like a frosted birthday cake that sent me off to a spiral variation that turned out very well.

All the yarn used is of the same weight so you can just go to your KYS and pick up a bunch of coordinating yarns and you are off to the races.  I made about ten hats from three balls of Plymouth Encore and here is how a couple turned out...

Cute, right?

The one on the right is the basic hat with a little i-cord topping while the one on the left is a variation from the book.  The one on the left is not to designed to cover a child's ears so you need to add some rows if you want that feature.  There is a bonnet style hat shown in the book that I have not tried but I can't believe it will be harder than the other styles.

I don't know if I will meet the challenge of a hat a day during the Olympics, now that the emphasis has moved onto the Track and Field, but this book is one I will keep using for many years to come as a jumping off point for many more itty-bitty hats.

And just for some comic relief...and since he rarely looks at this blog....here is a picture of a very shaggy Paul walking Alex.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Knitting A Long with KNOT

I belong to a couple of chapters of the Knit At Night Guild (KANG), one here in Kingwood (Knitting in Kingwood or KIK) and one in Spring (Knitters North of Town or KNOT).  Recently both groups have been doing KALs (Knit A Long) with various lace patterns.  The KIK KAL, which I am trying to facilitate I wrote about a couple of months ago.  The one we have been doing in KNOT I just finished.

Here it is:
I think it is gorgeous but it almost never happened.

Here's the back story.

It was announced that KNOT would be doing a KAL for the summer.  The pattern chosen was the Panda Silk DK Fan Shawl and we were all encouraged to try it out.  I was not impressed by the samples as they seemed way too heavy for me and the pattern looked like a bunch of little tiny bits(the fans) that were all the same.  How could this be a fun thing to knit?

I decided I would try another pattern and ordered a TON of lace weight yarn from Knit Picks - FIVE skeins of Gloss Lace Yarn  ... that's 2,200 yards of the stuff.  The color I chose was on clearance so I did get a break on the price BUT what was I going to do with all that yarn when the pattern I chose defeated me.  I won't share the name of the pattern I was going to try as it has completely left my home for its rightful pace in the recycling bin.

Instead of crying over an unfortunate purchase I decided to discard what I had already tried to knit up in the previous pattern, I gave one skein away for the KIK KAL, used up about one and a half skeins on this shawl and will use up the remaining two skeins making hats for the kids at the local Head Start Program.

Did you notice that I did not use DK weight yarn but something a whole lot finer - Lace Weight (on size 3 US needles if you care)?

Instead of this pattern being an icky picky knit, it was actually enjoyable.  The 29 row pattern was easily memorized and if you messed up the corrections would be easy, or, in my case I just kept going.  What's a stitch or two off between friends?

The big bonus for me was that I didn't have to join all the little fans together because it was all knit in one piece...by finishing one fan then picking up stitches from it to start the next.  I will admit there were a lot of yarn ends to clean -up but I think it was worth it.

Mine came out to about 70" long by about 24" wide... a nice size for the movies.

I can't wait to show the other members of KNOT that I got it done because it looks so different from the standard DK weight shawls most of them are doing.

Now I need to decide what to knit while watching the Olympics.  Last time I made socks...this time i think it will be hat for little kids from the  Itty-bitty hats book I won as a door prize at KIK the other day.

And yes, they will be mostly pink!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Milestones

Some days milestones in our life become millstones dragging us down.


I celebrated my sixtieth birthday a couple of weeks ago which is a great milestone in my life.  I think it can now officially say that I have fewer years ahead of me than behind me.  I still get up every morning feeling that everything that happens after I wake up is a bonus.  I still can't sing in tune, dance to any known rhythm or cook like a gourmet.


My birthday has lifted a great weight off my shoulders because now I feel like I don't have the time necessary to learn to sing in tune, dance to a rhythm or cook like Julia Child before the big blackout.  Huge relief!


In other ways, being sixty has set a couple of millstones on my back.  I think I should be wiser, less impulsive and more dignified in my demeanor. I realized that it just isn't going to happen when I came across a great project to mark my birthday.


In a recent issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine I came across an article on making Prayer Flags.  The article is full of inspirational flags and I decided to mark my birthday with my own version of prayer flags...not so much that the prayers would go to God for her help but that they would remind me of things that are important to me.


There are traditionally ten flags in two sets of five colors.  My interpretation went something like this:


  1. Blue = space.. >the final frontier> rocket ship > seek > imagine
  2. White = air....wind > explosion > breathe
  3. Red = fire..  burn > cleanse > discard
  4. Green = water ..  flow > wave > sooth > dance
  5. Yellow = earth.... dirt > grow > bloom
Starting  with the ideas above, a base of marbled fabric that I had experimented with many years ago and thread that matched the prayer flag colors, this is what I came up with:


(Oops! Blogger is telling me i have run out of space event hough I am at only 52% of usge..  check out my facebook wall for an image  )


Yes, I only did five, but I can see them from my living room window and every time I glance that way, I think of the concepts shown, smile and another millstone falls off my back.  Who cares if I am not wise, less impulsive or dignified when I am sixty.  After all, I still have a few more years left, and they may come in time...or not!







Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons....

In this case, I could not find a suitable border fabric for my latest 1600" quilt.  In case you have forgotten, a couple of weeks ago I posted about the 1600'" Quilt I had created during a session of Saturday Strippers.  Here is the link if you have forgotten.

My problem was that I wanted a patterned fabric for a border and couldn't seem to find one that would work.  Of the three solutions I suggested then, I finally decided to go ahead and try to make my own fabric.

With that in mind I cut samples of three different black fabrics I had in the house and applied a little sprayed bleach to each of them.  Friends convinced me that one of them looked pretty good and I went off to make more.

I laid out the black fabric on the driveway and laid old clothesline, a dog tie out and some pine needles on it.  I then sprayed it with a 50% solution of bleach and water.


One hour later this is what it looked like.  I sprayed it a little more and proceeded to wait for more magic to occur.
 After two hours, this is how it turned out, with the ropes and pine needles removed.
After a quick bath in 1 teaspoon of sodium bisulfate (Pro Anti-chlor from Pro Chemical and Dye) and 2 1/2 gallons of warm water, to neutralize the bleach, I dried it on the clothesline 
I had used to make the patterns and strung up among the trees in the back yard.  Once dry, I applied it to the quilt top and this how it turned out:



I think it turned out well.  I am now looking for an opportunity to lay it out on a large surface for basting because I have lots of ideas on how to quilt it.

This bleaching technique is definitely something you should add to your skill inventory as it it is so useful when confronted with dull, solid color fabric.  The plain cotton curtain over the window of my back door is now covered in various loopy designs after I used a bleach pen on it and some wonderful bright pink rayon yardage ended up with a bunch of lemon yellow speckles after bleaching using a spray bottle.  And check out this wonderful little quilt where the leaves seem to be floating on air.

BTW Paul says this quilt is a little girly because there is some peach in one of the fabrics.  I guess I can keep this one for the dogs and me to use because we don't care if it's a little girly.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lace KAL

Sometimes a random thought just takes over your life.

Nothing too loud or strenuous, just a little tickle that says...this is a good idea, you should try this, be a rock star.

Okay, maybe not a rock star, but I know you know what I am talking about.

The little idea was presented to me during a telephone call from another member of Knitting in Kingwood (KIK).  It had been suggested to her that the two of us work on a Lace Knit-a-Long (KAL) for KIK.  A KAL is when several individuals commit to knitting the same project at the same time.  It is a great way to stretch your knitting skills, learn a new technique and discover any potential problems with the pattern.  Our KAL would last all summer so it needed to be a little complex but not impossible for the average lace beginner.

My Long Sweater Jacket was a KAL.  Most people finished it in a couple of months.  It took me much longer but the comments from the other knitters really helped me to make something that fit me rather than too small like most of the other sweaters I saw.

Teresa and I looked for a pattern to use.  At first I thought we would use the Nancy Bush sampler scarf as the pattern but I found one in Love of Knitting that clearly would make a great KAL.  The pattern is called the Lacey Green Scarf by Ginger Smith and this is how mine came out:

Okay so it's not green but it is certainly lacy and it is a scarf.  The yarn is Shadow from Knit Picks. The Lilac color was a closeout and cost me less than $5.00.  I love the drape and I must admit that I am learning how to count these lacy patterns most of the time.  This pattern is well written though complex and you do need to pay attention to what you are doing.  Mine came out to about five feet long and eight inches wide at the ends to about six inches in the middle...and that taper was part of the pattern!

I did not notice any huge problems until I was blocking it out.  I discovered that I reversed a couple of rows which made one of the patterns a little wonky.  I probably should have re-knit that portion but my lazy side took over and now I just point it out to people.

Hey, this is a learning experience not a contest...right?
 
Why do I keep torturing myself like this?  Well, there is this little voice that keeps telling me to try something new, it's a good idea, you could be a rock star...at least in my little bit of the world where all things are possible, even wonky knitting passing itself off as lace.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The 1600" Quilt Revisited

Last October I wrote about the 1600" quilt concept.  If you don't remember that far back you can check it out here.

Go ahead and look at it now, I'll wait for you to get back.

That quilt was not a real 1600" quilt but it paid homage to the concept.

This past Saturday the Strip Club decided that we would all work on genuine 1600" quilt tops and even make it into a race.

The race part never really happened as we were very distracted by all the great food everyone came with including ribs from Sweet Sadie's.  Yum, Yum!

I did get my top done and this how it turned out:

This time I did use a real jelly roll of forty different 2 1/2" strips called a Bali Pop in the Coconut colorway.  It came out to approximately 66" x 50", a good size for a lap quilt but I wanted it to be a bigger 'snuggle up on the couch with two dogs' size.  So at the same time as I bought the Bali Pop I also bought a few possibilities for borders as all the batiks were on sale for $6.99 each... a real bargain these days.

Here's how the chosen border fabrics will not work with this quilt:

Actually I can't show you the border choices because Blogger and Google want to charge me for photo storage....WTF!

Take my word for it though, I am either going color blind or choosing border fabrics before a top is completed is never a good idea.

As my chosen border fabrics do not seem to be working I have two other possibilities I may try.  One is to border the whole thing in plain black with black binding so that it looks like a frame for the colorful strips.  The other is to experiment with bleaching out some of the black fabric that I have to see if any of it can be used as a wide patterned border of black and cream with a thin solid black first border and solid black for the binding.

Not sure how it will all work out but I am very pleased with how the top turned out and know that this will be a technique I will use again and again and again.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Problem with Knitting

I was cleaning up my knitting supplies the other evening and decided that there is real problem with knitting.  Not so much the actual act itself but the amount of stuff you can accumulate in the pursuit of knitting.

To knit successfully all you need to is a pair of sticks, a length of string and the knowledge of six techniques - knit stitch, purl stitch, casting on, binding off, increasing and decreasing.

Everything else is a variation on the basics.

Let's take those sticks as an example.

Most beginner knitting books suggest that a beginner purchase a set of needles and a skein of  yarn.  Already the beginner is in trouble.  There are a huge variety of knitting needle sizes depending on the tradition you are following or where you shop.  There are US sizes as well as needles sized based on millimeters.  There are little gadgets that help you determine which size needles you have.  I have one that shows US sizes, millimeter sizes,  Canadian sizes, UK sizes and French sizes.  The typical beginner size of needles is a size 8 US.

Once you have determined that you have the right size of needles you need to determine the right type of needles.  Needles come with single points and double points, can be long or short, with long or short cables and made from plastic, celluloid, metal or wood.  Heck, even your figures can be used as the sticks for a knitting project.  Typical beginner's sticks are single pointed and short (about 8"long).

(While cleaning up my knitting needles I came up with about 100 different sets of needles, some that I have purchased, some that I have received as gifts, some that I inherited from my female relatives and some, I am sure, were created by little knitting elves.  I whittled it down to only one size of each needle in each type which took it all down to about fifty sets.  The discards have been further whittled down to those that are actual sets, which will be donated, and those for which I don't have a whole set. Not sure what to do with those but I am looking around for ideas.)

Then we come to the yarn.  Some skeins of yarn are called worsted weight in one region, can be called DK (double knitting) weight in another.  The amount of yarn, in yards or meters, varies by the total actual weight of the skein which may be stated in grams or ounces.  A combination of the actual weight of the yarn with the length of the yarn in that weight determines what you call it...lace, DK, worsted and many others. Over and above this yarn can be made out of anything that can be spun.  Cotton, linen, wool, acrylic, silk, rayon and bamboo are all on the shelves these days.  Each fiber has different characteristics as to durability and cleaning. There are many weights of yarn from lace weight to super bulky.  The typical starting weight of yarn is worsted weight and made out of acrylic fibers.

(My yarn stash is in better shape than my needle stash as I have a use for each skein, no matter how acquired.  I do have a little problem with bits left over from completed projects but they are slowly, very slowly, making it into caps for the pre-schoolers at the local Head Start program this coming Christmas.)

So here is our poor beginner with six sets of needles called size 8, twelve skeins of worsted weight yarn and they have not even read the first page of instructions.

There are also lots of other tools you can purchase, like stitch markers, yarn needles, cable holders, rulers, scissors, yarn barns and a million other tools but sticks and string get you started.

Once you actually decide to learn how to knit, you then need to determine your style of knitting.  There are two basic types, picking (also called Continental) and throwing (also called British).  There are also many variations depending on the local tradition.  Before you even take your first stitch you need to build your foundation row by casting on.  Every teacher of note has their own favorite cast-on from simple to complex and I am sure there are whole books discussing the merits of each style.  The complexity of such a simple activity as knitting, can turn off the most dedicated student.  The most basic is called a Backward Loop Cast-on and even my middle-schoolers can master it in about ten minutes.

Do you see where I am going here?

I love knitting but I am getting overwhelmed by the stuff.  The stuff can consist of the tools and materials but it also consists of the knitting police who will tell you a better way to do something even if you are getting good results from your method.

How do we combat the problem of knitting?

May I suggest the following:

  • Buy only what you need and keep track of what you have on hand.
  • Use what you buy in specific projects not stored for 'something' in the future.
  • Learn to knit, and continue to knit with, people you like rather than with 'experts'.
  • Take a class or two with the understanding that you will learn only a few new ideas per class.
  • If it works for you then it is right, if it doesn't, ask a good friend for their method.  It might work or it might not.
  • Discard the stuff you hate...donate it, un-ravel it or just chuck it.


I have all my knitting stuff under control right now, even to ignoring expert advice with a smile rather than a scowl.

Don't let your knitting stuff get you down.  Just sit back, turn on a movie, pick up your sticks and string and make something.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To Copyright or not to Copyright

....That is the question, at least for some designers out there.

Recently I have read a whole slew of postings about fabric designers saying that their copyrighted fabric designs cannot be used in anything that is sold for money.  I have also seen a bunch of quilt designers saying that their patterns are copyrighted and you can't make a quilt from their patterns and have it judged in a show without the designer getting full credit and giving their permission for it to be shown.   Can anyone out there make a quilt exactly as it was shown in a pattern?  If you can, then it is a copy so why bother making it in the first place?

As far as I know none of these issues has been litigated fully...that is a judge has not ruled on the legality of all these threatened lawsuits.

I decided to make my own test of all of the issues by making something based on a copyrighted design and see where it lead my not-so-legal mind.

I purchased the April 2011 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting because it had an article about Edyta Sitar... a recent guest of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild.

Edyta designed a handbag that had some interesting lines in it so I decided to make a copy.

Here's how mine came out versus the original article:

Does my bag even look remotely like the one in the magazine?

Should Edyta get credit for designing my bag?

I believe the most credit she could get would be as an inspiration for my bag but even that would be a stretch as my bag is different than hers in the following ways:

I redrew and re-sized the pattern to meet my needs.
I used pre-quilted fabric rather than custom quilted fabric for the body of the bag.
I added interior and exterior pockets.
I eliminated the gathered embellishment.
I eliminated the gathered corners and turned them into tailored ones.
I did not hand apply the binding and used a double rather than single layer of binding.
I reinforced the handle with heavy nylon rope.

What about these other bags I have made that contain similar design points:







If I ever sold this bag would I need to get permission from all of these designers and pay them royalties for specific design elements?  And let's not forget that I bought the fabric at JoAnn's so maybe they should get credit as well.  And what about the threads I used or the old binding from the bottom of the stash?

I think you can see why I am so confused by all this craziness.

If you want to copy my bag, I have a pattern you can trace and I won't make you pay royalties but it would be nice if you gave me some credit somewhere sometime when you are become a big time handbag designer for Dolce and Gabbano.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sock Knitting Master Class

No, I did not take a master class in sock knitting but I did buy a book of the same name that was written/compiled by Ann Budd, a knitting rock star.

The book is very comprehensive and you can find great information on all aspects of sock knitting.  It even discusses all the various ways to knit a sock with different tools... four or five double pointed needles, two circular needles, one circular needle and the magic loop method.  The DVD is pretty good and if you are a visual learner the DVD is a real bonus.

What I like is that the author is not married to a single method of knitting socks.  Every method I have ever heard of for top down and toe up knitting is included.  You can sample the methods and find what you like or dislike before committing to a full set of double pointed needles or short circular needles or more importantly, purchasing patterns or books using a particular method that you find out that you hate.

I tried out one of the patterns for toe up knitting by another knitting rock star Cat Bordhi.  Cat is known for her use of two circular needles to create her toe-up socks and the pattern also introduces Judy Becker's 'Magic' cast-on (not so magic, just tedious IMO) and Jeny Staiman's stretchy bind-off (good choice for the sock pattern I tried).  The pattern is called Pussy Willow Stockings.

This is how they looked in the book:
Very pretty!

Here is how one of mine looks:

Not so pretty but definitely adequate.  The yarn I used is from a company called Nako and is 50% wool and 50% acrylic so they should be very durable.  I like the variety of colors in them though the yarn had a tendency to split while I was working with it.  I have no idea where you could buy this yarn as I received it in a yarn swap this past Christmas and I see on the website that this yarn is made for the Turkish domestic market.

The instructions were well written though you really need to keep your eye on them or you could easily get lost.  As in most books like this, every pattern is by a different sock designer so you can get a good overview of each designer's style.  The pattern I used will probably lead me to seek out other patterns by Cat...though I will probably not use her two circular needle method of construction as I am addicted to my beautiful double pointed needles from Knit Picks.

If you want to sample different sock knitting methods this is the book for you.  It is not for the beginner for their first sock....that pattern would be the 100 gram sock pattern in this post.  I'm going to try some more patterns from the book as there are some other intriguing construction methods just itching to get on my needles.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Five Years

Five years and two days ago I was told that I was being laid off from the Big Bank where I worked.  After twenty seven years of service they caught up with me and determined that I was no longer needed.

Five years and one day ago I started this blog because I knew I would need to write even if it wasn't financial analyses of the performance of certain groups within the Big Bank.

Five years less nine days Alex came into my life.

Right now I am a little over-whelmed by all the things that have happened in the past five years.

In so many ways I am not the same person today that I was then.  I became an orphan, took up knitting again, spearheaded a charitable sewing group, lost my gall bladder,  developed RA, made some true friends and lost some not-so-true friends, decided to tough it out and not look for a new paying job and, in a couple of months, I will turn sixty and officially be eligible for many senior citizen discounts.

In so many other ways I am still the same person.  I still do not suffer fools gladly, cannot sing or dance without causing pain to myself or others, or keep a 'company ready' house.  I still insist  that I should do my own lawn mowing, though my neighbor insists on doing the front lawn.  My teeth are still crooked and my allergies just keep getting worse.

And every morning I wake up and I am glad that I did.

Not a stellar record but that's my story and I am sticking to it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twinkle Quilt

I am so excited that I was able to actually finish a quilt this past week.  I started Twinkle, from the Kim Brackett book 'Scrap-Basket sensations', back in January and it has taken me this long to get it together, basted and quilted.  A long drawn out process but I think it was worth it.


It came out at about 70" square which is larger than the original design because I added two extra rows.  The fabrics came primarily from my South African indigo stash of fat quarters with the stars all coming from the same piece of fabric that had four shades of yellow in it.  That outer border was actually ordered over the phone from Stitchin' Heaven when they ran out of the fabric that I really wanted for the border.  I think it all works together.

A surprise for me was that the indigo fabrics only bled a little in the wash.  I used a whole handful of color catchers and they came out bluer than they were before but not solid blue.  The lightest yellow looks a little duller to me but my fears of everything turning blue seem to have been misplaced.

This Saturday is another meeting of the Strip Club and I think we are supposed to be working on UFO's.  I'm going to bring something that has been sitting in my to do pile for several years...another quilt but totally different from a something made from strips.

If you like the quilts I have made from this book, go buy the book.  I have to buy another one as I destroyed my copy with large cup of cup with cream and sugar.  What a sticky mess!

 And even if Alex likes this quilt it will not go into the bathtub with all the other doggie quilts!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Puzzled

About ten years ago I participated in a Block of the Month quilt program based on the Yikes pattern from Maple Island Quilts.  Every month I got a lot of fabric to make four blocks in a variety of large size basic block patterns.  Even if you don't quilt you have probably heard of Log Cabin or Courthouse steps blocks.

Here's how it turned out:

Pink, turquoise, black and white batiks made for a dramatic quilt and the construction allowed for any inaccuracies to be hidden by offsetting the rows.  I worked for hours on where to place each block but, in the end, Lady Jane (my Italian Greyhound then) mixed up the blocks so the placement ended up more random and less pleasingly placed.  I still love it for its energy and cheerful vibe.

I was about an hour from finishing up the quilt top when Paul saw it and asked for it for his bed.  He moved out a couple of months later and I haven't really seen it in many years.

Fast forward about eight years...

I was at his place the other day and saw it in a heap in the laundry room.  Thinking I would do him a favor, I decided to bring it home and wash it for him.  I dumped it in a heap on MY laundry room floor and went to let the dogs out.

THEY WENT NUTS!  Sniffing it, pawing it, rolling on it and exploring under it all the while wagging their tales and making general happy puppy sounds before they would go outside.  Good smells mean that Paul has been using it a lot or that someone doused in  'essence of beef'.

Imagine my surprise when Kelis, while trying to get out from under it, got stuck trying to crawl through a hole in it.

A HOLE!

Not just one hole BUT THREE HOLES!

I should not be surprised as the dearly departed Kimora chewed on everything she could when she was a puppy and I am sure these holes are her handiwork.

I am not distressed by the holes, they only show that the quilt has been well used over the years and, as I always say, I make utility quilts not heirlooms to be preserved for future generations.

But really... three holes seem a bit much.

So this weekend I will be trying to decided what to do about this quilt.

Here are the options as I see them:

  1. Toss it out.  Not really an option a I still love it.
  2. Carefully patch it to invisibly hide the holes.  This could take a very long time to find the exact matching fabrics and may never look as it did when brand new and, with my luck, Alex will chew a new hole in it just to show he can do it.
  3. Patch it without concern for how it looks.  A black patch covering all three holes would make the quilt usable again but will not be very aesthetically pleasing.  Then again, a patch is a patch is a patch.
  4. Cut out one big hole, bind the edges and make it a doggy door.  I am intrigued by this solution as it would give Alex and Kelis a new game.  Then again, with my luck, I would get my foot stuck in it  and rip a bigger hole. 

So, while I am getting some work done this weekend (cleaning, planting and de-cluttering) I will be puzzling over what to do with this holes.

And Bill, I will not use red to fix it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Last UFO

The Last KNITTED UFO (UnFinished Object) to be precise.

Why is this such a milestone for me?

In general, I tend to have about three knitting/crocheting projects going at anyone time.  Usually there is a pair of socks, a hat or scarf project and one bigger project (think sweater or complex lace) on my needles at any one time.  My theory is that socks are great for when I am being a couch potato, hats and scarves are great for knitting group gatherings and bigger projects are good for long movies or car trips.

There really is a method to my madness.

BUT, I must confess that the larger projects sometimes get hidden away because they become boring to work and I lose interest in them.

My last UFO was from a kit I purchased in Canada about six years ago.  Called the Sweater Bitz Kit it contained an ultra suede vest without sides and lots of various yarns so that I could knit up sleeves and side panels to make the vest into a jacket.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.  All the different yarns were cut into three yard lengths and the knitter was assured that there was enough yarn in the kit to make even the largest size provided.

After reading the instructions, I divided the yarns into two equal piles so that each sleeve/side combination would have similar yarns in them.  In a hotel room, with lousy lighting, I began this soon to be UFO.

What changed my enthusiasm from 'wow, I need to wear this next week' to 'let's just hide it away'?

THERE WASN'T ENOUGH YARN IN THE KIT TO FINISH THE KNITTING IN MY SIZE!!!

When I used up half the yarn in knitting one sleeve with side extensions I found that I needed about another 200 yards or so of yarn to finish it up.  I put aside the first sleeve/side and started on the second...just to see if I was wrong.  I wasn't.  Second side needed just as much extra yarn.

Into a bag the whole thing went and once in a while I would pick up additional skeins to finish it up.

A couple of weeks ago I committed to finishing it up and this is how it looks today:


The color correction is a little off as the pre-made vest portion is black, not dark grey.

I still have a little hand sewing to finish it up.  In the end I added a lining to the knitted portion to stabilize the stretch as the knitted part is quite heavy and would 'grow' over time.

The textures of the different yarns are wonderful but I don't know if I will ever finish up the hand sewing needed to finalize the sleeve and side side hems on the right side of the photo because I am not in love with this project any more.

To add insult to injury, the size I chose is a little small and I should have made the side panels a little larger for an attractive drape.

The company that packaged the kit no longer carries this item and the retailer I bought it from seems to have disappeared from the web soon after I bought this kit.  That should have been a clue!

I am now UFO free and intend to set up another set of three projects to meet every eventuality.  I already have one of the three dedicated to making hats for kids at the local Head Start facility for their Christmas Party later this year.  Three hats done already!  The other two will probably be a great sweater with a kangaroo pouch in the front, that I have been itching to start, and an interesting pair of cabled socks to round out the 'in process' pile.

No knitting/crocheting UFO's ...YEAH!

Zillions of sewing UFOs to go.  :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trouble

NO, this post is not about Alex...even though his behavior sometimes defines the word.

This post is how I get myself in trouble.

Let me elucidate.

Several months ago, the bricks and mortar location of Sun Flower Quilts  closed and it has become a virtual store.

That's all well and good except that the store had a three day sale to reduce the inventory.  Since Sun Flower was my favorite store, I had to go to the sale.  While there, I picked up some pricey notions for cheap as well as some baskets and other little bits and pieces.

Here's where I got myself in trouble.

Abandoned on a bookshelf  was a kit for a little change purse with a frame closure.  (if you are unfamiliar with frame closures, see here.)  It was only a few dollars and included hard to find interfacing.

I have never tried this type of construction before so it was a no brainer to pick up the kit and fiddle with it.

I am now hooked on this type of purse making.

Yes, it is a little finicky and requires significant patience but the product is very satisfying...or at least it would be if I didn't get glue all over the fabric body of what I made....

The white haze is glue while the yellowish stain is something I can't identify (can!t blame Alex for this one!).  I had to add the beads as there was a perfect spot on the handle for them.  The whole thing is only three inches wide and the Japanese fabric I used is a discard from a another member of the American Sewing Guild (Thanks Carol!)

So now I am in trouble.

I want to buy a bunch of different metal frames and make a lot of these little containers of deep mysteries or a few coins.  The fact that I have many little bags to hold deep mysteries does not not seem to deter my fascination with this construction technique.

Heck, there is still room on the credit card.

Hmmmmm...

PS - In my defense, here is an example of something I will never make again as the product is totally useless -

Made from 1" covered button parts, it is supposed to look like a macaroon cookie but is definitely not good enough to eat.  Instructions are on the web someplace but I can't find them again...and I don't want to!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bushwacked!

In April, Nancy Bush, a rock star of the knitting world, will be in Houston offering two classes for local knitters.  I am fortunate enough to have made the cut to get into the class.

Making the cut does not mean that I have the skills needed to master her lace knitting techniques, it just means that I followed the rules for submitting my money to pay for the class.

I have long admired her work for many years in Piecework magazine. Her specialty seems to be knitting techniques from Estonia and other Baltic countries.  I don't know if it was one of her articles but once there was an article about a knitted wedding shawl, about the size of a double bed quilt, that could be pulled through a wedding ring.  AWESOME!

Quick, do you know where Estonia is located?  (hint: further north than I thought :-()

Anyway, I got into her lace class while the other day will be spent on knitted gloves, a topic that does not interest me in the least.

I decided that instead of just going in blind to the class I would pick up her book on lace knitting and read up on her work.

'Knitted Lace of Estonia' is a beautiful book with lots of narrative and an excellent selection of knitted lace patterns as well as information on how the knitter can create their own patterns from the many motifs and construction details provided.  There is even a DVD  that adds a personal touch to the book's contents.

After reading the introductory chapters I decided to take the plunge in and try one of the patterns.

My choice was the 'Lily of the Valley Scarf' on page 90.  I didn't have the yarn called for in the pattern so I used a skein of Noro Kiramaki, a wonderful variegated lace weight yarn multicolored from beige to brown to pink to lime green.  It is similar to their Sekku line with the only major change is that the rayon is replaced by cotton.  Kiramaki is not being made any more so you would have a hard time reproducing this:

The number of mistakes in this scarf are almost too many to count but by the clever camouflage of the variegated yarn means that they do not stand out from the correctly knitted portion.

For fun I ran it through a ring to see if it would fit. (it does!)  It also camouflages the subject of this post.

After a couple of weeks of knitting diligently from this wonderful book, I blocked the scarf, to straighten out some of the knitting.  As I sat on the couch last evening to clean up the loose yarn ends Alex hopped onto the couch for a game of fetch with his knarly old Nyla Bone.  The scarf stuck to the bone and, as I was trying persuade him that he didn't want my scarf,  he leaped off the couch to prance around the living room, dragging it behind him.

I carefully corralled him (no dogs were permanently injured in this procedure...but he could have been!) and unstuck the scarf from his bone.

Pause for the air turning blue from my cursing as I discovered that several rows had their yarn broken in one area.  Huge hole that I darned together.

So that's the whole story.  Nancy Bush's beautifully patterned scarf has turned into something I will wear VERY carefully as Alex bushwhacked my satisfaction in a job well done by reminding me that nothing is more important that quality puppy time.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Long And The Short Of It

This weekend has interesting around here at Alice's House.  The long of it started with the completion of a project that took me approximately two years, ten months and three days to complete while the short of it took about thirty minutes.


Let me explain. 


First, the long of it...


Back in early April 2009, I visited the Knit Picks site and came across a posting for a knit-a-long for the Classic Lines Cardigan.  A nice simple cardigan with a couple of advanced techniques just to make it interesting.  (Photo from Knit Picks).  


Classic Lines Cardigan Pattern

I read a couple of posts on how the arms and body were a little skimpy so I added a couple of inches to my basic measurements in order to pick a size.  Glad that I added the extra inches as the final product is anything but skimpy.  In fact it looks rather over-sized to me which is bonus to me.  So rather than looking/fitting like this: (Photo from Kelly at Knit Picks)



Mine looks like this:

Despite the crappy picture you can see mine is very loose, much  longer and my neckline looks more like the one in the pattern.  Here's a better photo that does show off the wonderful yarn - 


The subtle stripe is obtained by using two strands of Shadow for every row and an additional strand of Shimmer every few rows.  The more solid color is Forest Heather Shadow while the stripe is Bayou Shimmer.

I did learn some lessons with this project.  One is that I can do anything I put my mind to but that doesn't mean I can do it well.  The steek wasn't so bad but I discovered that my row counting for the front bands  left a lot to be desired.  (Hey Al, six rows are not the same as nine rows!!!)  The other thing I learned was that every knitting pattern designer has their own ideas when it comes to sizing.  It would have been helpful if the chest measurement given was for the wearers' chest or the garments' chest, as an example  Of course, if I had read the blocking diagram I would have realized that the sizing was based on the garment and not the body that would wear it.  Lesson learned again....read and follow the instructions.

I am cuddled up in my extra extra large sweater today as it was just above freezing this morning when I walked the dogs and I am still feeling a bit of a chill.  I will probably not do this pattern again but if i do I will not almost three years to complete it!

The short of it you ask?

I got my hair cut the other day and lost about ten inches of length.  It is really short but I think it will work for me.

Here's the back:

And I think you can get a concept of the front from this crappy shot:


I love wash and go hair !

So that's it... the long and the short of it..literally.

Have a great week...and stay warm!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shaggy Chic Chenille Clutch

Every year I tend to get involved with some sort of monthly project series.  Usually they have been associated with specific retail establishments like last year's failed Fat Quarter Club at The Quilt Room.  The club didn't failed but I dropped out after unsuccessfully trying to balance it with the monthly Knitting in Kingwood meetings.


This year I am returning to an online, monthly sewing challenge.  Africankelli (aka Kelli Donely (probably spelled incorrectly)) chose Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders for the challenges.  I had previously participated in a similar challenge from the original One-Yard Wonders book by the same authors (Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins) and, although the projects were quite interesting, the use of basic cotton fabric limited the scope of the projects.   This new book seeks to explore different fabrics and pairing the fabrics with appropriate projects.  Like oil cloth for an umbrella, and fleece for truly cuddly stuffed animals.  Surprisingly linen is not included although cotton, voile, fleece , flannel and othersl are all included.


I got my copy of the book from Amazon and eagerly sat down to work on the first project, the Shabby Chic Chenille Clutch.  The chenille is created using flannel and I just happened to have some high quality flannel hanging around the house waiting for some quilt inspiration.  Here is what I came up with by following most of the instructions in the book:


 As you can see, the final project does not look like the original fabric at all but you still get the red, white and blue theme.  


I did not follow the well written instructions completely....what a surprise!  First of all the pattern called for nine layers of flannel for the chenille fabric.  The flannel I used was so thick that I could not imagine my heavy duty sewing machine making it through eighteen layers of it for the final seaming.  Nine layers would have exactly used up one yard of the fabric but I used only six as I was under no constraints to follow the instructions precisely.


Other changes include the final size.  The pattern assumed that the washed fabric would shrink slightly from a twelve inch square to one about half an inch smaller.  My chenille shrunk unevenly and I needed to square it up before the final construction.  My clutch ended up based on a ten and a half inch square.  The only other change was the handle (off to the upper right in the photo).  The pattern called for contrasting  ribbon while I used a bit of ragged self fabric.


I do have one beef with this project.  The final product did not mirror the written instructions.  Essentially chenille is created by sewing parallel lines through all the layers of fabric then cutting through all the layers of fabric but the bottom two.  The instructions called for cutting though the fabric between each of the sewn lines but the picture definitely showed cutting though every other section.  I know its a small thing but one that should have been mentioned in the instructions.


This book is well written and gives some great information on how to handle each type of fabric.  I wonder what the next project will be?


Oh!  Just in case you are wondering about my New Year's resolution to no longer create useless little projects, I intend to use this clutch for lunch out with friends so that I carry the essentials without taking up table space with cell phone, keys and wallet.  This clutch holds just these three items and sits safely in my lap.  All the non-essential junk can stay in the car untilI might possible need it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Charity Knitting

Yesterday I took the opportunity to join other members of the Knit at Night Guild (KANG) in a charity knitting event at Central Market.  Central Market is one of those fancy grocery stores where, instead of Saturday tastings being some frozen concoction, they sample home made marshmallows.  They have a wonderful meeting room on their second floor, next to their cooking school, and about thirty of us met on Saturday for some knitting for charity.


This group is one of the classiest craft guilds I have ever belonged to....and I think I have been a member of about 99% of them at one time or another.  Everything you could possibly need to be successful at the chosen projects was provided including wonderful food (catered by the store) and endless, excellent coffee.


Two projects were presented.  One is a blanket buddy from Lion Brand Yarns and the other was a selection of facecloths.


Each participant received a kit that included the pattern(s) for their chosen project(s), sufficient yarn to complete one or more of the project and knitting needles to make the project.  The needles were a thank you gift and are high quality bamboo ones.  There were fabulous door prizes including a book (with supplies) for knitting with wire.  I did not win anything but those that did were very pleased.  (Check out this site for great prices on quality needles.) 


I chose the blanket buddy project which is basically a knitted square with a bunny head and arms.  The instructions required a little interpretation and mine came out like this:


Pretty cute, yes?


All the yarn was donated and I received two skeins of DK weight yarn called Jamie.  You use this yarn doubled for the blanket buddy so this toy really has some heft to it. I think I may have enough left over to make another one. So far Alex has not realized that there is a new toy in the house and I hope I am successful in keeping it from him until I can hand it in.


Most of the items made will be donated to Texas Children's Hospital and other local charities.


I must admit I thought this would be a pretty lame gathering and, except for the one woman who kept telling medical horror stories, the group was very congenial and everyone seemed to be having a very productive time.  I left with about a half hour's of work left and some people actually completed their project.  


The facecloth folks were given patterns that could be a stretch for some people as each used interesting and slightly complex stitch patterns.   Check them out -  Lizard Ridge, Darrell Waltrip and Dimpled were all presented.  I am glad I chose the blanket buddy as I was not in the mood to struggle with a new stitch pattern however I really want to try the Lizard Ridge one as it produces such a great result. 


I hope they will do this again and they are looking for a more central location for the next one.  I wonder if I can convince them that Kingwood is a more central location as I know I could get the Elmgrove Community Room for such a great project. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lumberjack Avoidance Technique

Today is the day before the bi-monthly yard waste pick-up in my neighborhood.  It is also the perfect time of year to trim low hanging branches from the Live Oaks and unruly bits from the Crepe Myrtles.  I should be in the yard with a variety of cutting and sawing implements so that I can take advantage of this great opportunity.


Instead I am avoiding this much needed activity to bring you, and only you, a brand new product I found the other day at Hobby Lobby


I originally went into the store looking for alcohol based inks so that I could check out a technique from the latest Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.  Instead of the inks I found something even more intriguing...Pastel Dye Sticks.




I have played with Oil Paint Sticks but the cost of the sticks ($6.00 and up), the extra long cure time (three days) and the fact that they change the hand of the fabric, have made me a little hesitant to use them in many projects.  Pastel Dye Sticks look like a good solution for me.  Inexpensive ( about $4.00 for a set of fifteen) and quick cure rate (heat set in seconds) make them something I can try out without a huge commitment.


Using an ancient t-shirt as my fabric, a simple stencil as my design, the brown and gold dye sticks this is what I came up with >>>


Since I have had muddy paws on this shirt (and all my shirts!) at some time or another this seemed like a perfect little test project.


Heat setting required a piece of paper over the design and a quick hot ironing.


As you can see the paper absorbed the excess pastel oil base.


The dye did not change the hand of the shirt at all and the shirt is still fully machine washable and dry-able as it was in the past.


I think I am going to try out some more ideas like sharpen the sticks so they are less like crayons , try them through a silk screen and find a better way to keep the fabric taut rather than just my fingers.


Oops!  The trees are calling me but maybe I can do something else to do to avoid using my lumberjack tools....even folding laundry is beginning to look interesting to me today!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gift Copies

Have you ever received a gift that you liked so much you wanted more of it?  


That seems a no brainer if the gift was chocolate.  Who wouldn't want more chocolate?  You can always buy more chocolate as it tends to be within everyone's price range.


But what about a gift that is not consumable?  Diamonds are a great example.  I always like diamonds but probably can't afford many more.  


Some gifts you want more of but not an exact duplicate as what you have already received.  Like a red jacket you would love a duplicate of but in a more conservative brown.


That was my dilemma when a friend gave me an adorable little knitting bag.  Its made out of silk, has an outside and an inside pocket, a great yo-yo embellishment and it is just the right size for a sock knitting project.


See...



Isn't it cute?


I love it BUT there a couple of things that are could be better.  For one thing, the interior fabric is a flimsy, black fabric which means it's probably not very durable and it is very difficult to see any bits at the bottom of the bag.  Dark interiors are not good things.  In addition, I didn't like the button closure which was a little wooden ball.  Since it is right above the pocket embellishment I would have loved a more colorful button.


What's a girl to do?


Put up with the defects? (too irritating)


Remake the parts that are bothersome? (too much effort)


Hide it in a drawer never to see the light of day again? (but it is a great size)


Well this girl decided to make her own copy.


I have made two cousins of the original.


The first copy used simple geometry to produce a copy.


Here's how it turned out:




(LOVE THAT FABRIC!)


Boring details:  the fabric is a Michael Miller fabric called called Flora and Fauna Blossoms in raspberry.  The orange button is from the stash.  The interior fabric is the same as the exterior and the interior pocket has an orange zipper closure.  


When compared to the original though there is something our of whack.  
(sorry about the poor color correction)


After remeasuring everything I realized that I had got the length of the straps wrong.  The originals are 22" long while the copy has them at 12" long.  The big problem is that the pointy bottom part is not a ninety degree angle but more like one hundred and ten degrees.  In addition, the pocket turned out too short due to that miscalculation.  The original is more like a fat Buddha like bag while my copy is more like a skinny Fifties like bag. 


Here is my second try:



Boring details:  the fabric is a washed dupioni silk from the stash and backed with a lightweight fusible interfacing.The pocket embellishment is part of an old thread painting class.  The 'button' is an old Chinese coin, some wooden beads and a strip of the silk fabric.  The interior is a striped cotton from the stash and the interior pocket has a cream zipper.  Wanda McKnight (the hat stand) likes this copy the best as she is pretty conservative.  Almost forgot...I added some lavender buds between the exterior and interior so it smells as good as it looks. 


Now I have three new knitting bags - one the original gift, one a skinny replica and the third an orange silk Buddha bag.


If you would like copies of the patterns I created for these bags, please let me know and I'll scan them into a file for you or we can hook up and I can give you a hard copy.


Now I need to get back to my knitting so Paul can get this year's Christmas present this year:-)