Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Embarrassment of Riches

So this is what happens when you haven't used up all of your stash...  someone else has to sort through and decide what to do with your hoard.
Poor Ruth, she had such plans!  In this box is a kit for a pink baby blanket and a kit for a white afghan shown in the  next picture, patterns and all.  There are also two bags of yarn in sweater type quantities, one red and one green.

Afghan kit... complete with yarn to do duplicate stitch embroidery...
 This box held skeins and partial skeins.  I pulled out my yarn winder and made some cakes.

The brown box at the bottom of this pile was full of "misc balls of yarn" according to the label.  Yes there were small balls, and wads, and loops and a couple of skeins of cream yarn that were missing their labels.  I tossed a lot of little wads of the unidentifiable, the tiny and the otherwise unusable schnibbles.  I still had a box full of small bits. 

This was even after I donated a big bag of larger misc. skeins and balls to the preschool at our church for craft projects!

On top of the box is a pile of stuff, and next to the box is a bag that is overflowing with bulky yarn.  Sadly, that was mine before I added the endless treasures from Ruth! 

Lest you think I'm a total hoarder, the reason that bag is falling over is that I've been digging in there for yarn for the hats I'm knitting for Christmas.  I am NOT showing those yet... not that much of my family reads my blog but it's the principle of the thing you know.  Gifts.  Surprises.  'Nuff said.

I've knit so much this fall that I'm buying stock in pain-relieving hand lotions and rubs!  My knuckles ache on a regular basis.  In fact they're aching right now just looking at the picture of this bag.

Oh this little bonus bag?  This is the result of a trip to Michael's to replace a skein of brown that was wound into balls and then hopelessly lost in the embarrassment of riches that is my yarn stash!  I just needed ONE SKEIN to finish my project!


I justify it by saying it was all on sale, then I had a coupon for 15 or 20% off my total purchase so I would have been irresponsible not to purchase some if later I would have had to go back and pay MORE than I paid that day!

I know you get that... I know you would have done the same.  Or not.  LOL!

Knit on...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Treasures in Knitting

The one I knit
The one I used as an example.
My last post about knitting the Christmas stocking showed you the results of the knitting.  I delivered the stocking on Wednesday of last week, just in time for the Thanksgiving reunion of the family for whom it was knitting.

This week my co-worker said the family who saw it was impressed.  Everyone came to his house for the holiday except the family of the little boy for whom the stocking was intended!  His poor mom had some sort of stomach ailment and was throwing up in the car on the way, so they went home again.  Aww... I'm so sorry she was ill, but I'm glad she was wise enough to go home and be comfortable in her own home until she's better.

So when my friend asked what he owed me, I had to say nothing.  No money changed hands.  And the reason is treasure!  Yes, treasure.

Not gold or silver or even jewels.  Gems for sure though.

When his mother stopped being able to follow a pattern to knit, she left a stash of some size.  He had asked me last week if I was interested in any of it.  That's what happens when you are known to be a crafter, people bring you stuff.  Sometimes it's trash, sometimes it's treasure, sometimes it's a mixed bag.

Speaking of bags, there were several of those.

Inside of this bag was a big surprise!
Ruth was evidently quite the knitter.  There were at least six projects that were not finished.  The first one I came across was a rug, knit with Aunt Lydia's Rug Yarn, in blue and white.  Quite patriotic!

The pattern was in the bag too.  The book it's in is from about 1976.  You know why patriotic themes were popular that year!  (Hint:  anniversary of important date in history... 'nuf said.)

It's only two colors, right?  My daughter, Alex P. Keaton young republican, likes this one very much.  She thinks I should finish it right now. 

Maybe after Christmas...

Another project was a blanket with a Raggedy Ann and Andy theme.  This one is knit with sport weight yarn.  For non-knitters, that's skinny.  Think many more stitches per inch than the rug or even the stocking!  Plus all those intricate details!  Ugh, not my thing.  If it's yours, and you think you would like to give it a go, send me an email and I'll gift it to you!

 I'll show you more of the stash in another post.  It's been sorted, the bits and scraps have been tossed, the little balls that might be big enough for a doll item have been organized.  A large bag of miscellaneous partial skeins were donated to the preschool at church for projects.  And I feel rich in potential projects!

Of course I now realize that not only do I have my OWN UFOs... I own Ruth's too!

Mixed blessing indeed.

Knit on...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One UFO Finished!

I wasn't actually counting UFOs this year.  WHO am I kidding, right?  I never will have a UFO count of zero, that's just wishful thinking.

Remember that stocking I was knitting for the grandson of a co-worker? 

I am happy to report that is it DONE!!

Yep, finished.  Sewn together.  Ends buried, clipped and hidden!

I delivered it yesterday morning, and granddad is pleased and impressed.

The pattern was from the Mary Maxim catalog.  Probably purchased in the 70s by his mother.  She knitted the entire family stockings beginning with him, his wife and three children.  She added the in-laws (sons- and daughter-) and then the grands (her greats).  But she developed dementia and is unable to knit anymore.

So I pitched in so the last grandson wouldn't be left out.

My knitting is a different gauge.  My KLEIGH stocking came out much larger than her last 'KREWE' stocking, by about 2 inches.  But at least Kleigh is no longer left out.

I'm feeling kind of virtuous.  I know, I should get over it.

In return for all that knitting, I am the recipient of mom's stash, or at least a good portion of it.  She had about six UFOs of her own.  I'm blown away by her fair isle knitting.  There are several projects with very intricate patterns.
  • A blue cardigan with Raggedy Ann and Andy knitted in
  • A brown cardigan with an owl
  • A pink sweater with beautiful cables
  • A pink carriage robe in a lace pattern
  • A purple vest
  • A white rug with an eagle outline in blue
My daughter voted that I should finish the last one.  We'll see.  Maybe after I read the pattern through.  I will consider it.

So my dears, the lesson here is this:

TRY to finish up some of your UFOs!  You don't want the people who are going to have to deal with your stash to have to take a chance on finding someone who will appreciate your stuff!

So Ruth, when you get to the other side and you know what's what again, know that I appreciated your work.

Knit on...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Might Have to Rename The Blog...

Yeah, Susan has not had a lot of time for sewing lately.  Although I've THOUGHT about sewing a lot.

You've ready my room cleaning binge post.  My right shoulder is still suffering the effects of that one.  I have rotator cuff tendonitis... I guess I should store my fabric in smaller bins or something!  Having to heft those big ones when they're full is creating more issues than it's solving.

I DID sew some small strip sets the other day for a quilt I'll be demonstrating this weekend.  It's a zig zag that's done without triangles.  I found a tutorial on someone's blog and tried it.  Here's the link if you want to see it.

But one of the ladies in our church quilt group wants to make one, so I was trying to find instructions to cut a kit for her.  And I had to try it out to see how much fabric is required for the size we usually make.

I pulled a bunch of precut strips and sewed them together.  I was using 2 inch strips instead of the three inch referenced in the tutorial, so mine is considerably smaller.  But cute.  Very cute.

I wanted to do a rainbow effect.  I chose white as my solid.  It's working out well. 

See?  Oh yeah, you know how I am about photos.  Hopefully I can add some when I remember to take them.

Meanwhile, if you can --

Sew on...

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Was Trying...

Honest, I was!  I was knitting one more of those little doll sweaters with the hood. 

I was writing down the instructions faithfully.  The yarn seemed a little bit chunkier than normal.  It was a lovely shade of red.

When I finished that one, I thought to myself, better test one on regular worsted weight, in case the gauge is different.  So Friday night, I sat down with my basket and found a ball of brown.  I knew I had a whole skein of that brown somewhere.

The problem was, well, you know what I said in October, I needed to clean up so I could find stuff.

I got down to mid-chest level on the sweater and had about six inches of yarn left.  NOT ENOUGH!!  But that 4 ounce skein was at least three balls of yarn.  So what have I done with the rest of it...

Saturday morning bright and early I started sorting and organizing.  Tiny balls of yarn went into a plastic fish bowl.  I put away all the needles I've dragged out all summer.  I found small quantities that will make doll slippers, balls of various shades of blue, and the Christmas stocking I have to finish before Thanksgiving.

No brown.  Dang.

Saturday afternoon I went into the craft room and started cleaning up and putting things away.  It felt like a bomb went off down there.

I lugged.  I tossed.  I filled bins.  Miss A came and 'helped' me.  We made Miss E a birthday card.  We had a snack.

No brown yarn.  I admit defeat.

Sunday after church, I searched closets upstairs.  No luck.  I give up!  I'm not tearing down that sweater.  I'm just. not. going. to. do. that.  No way.

OK, off to Michaels to buy ONE more skein of Impeccable by Loops & Threads in brown.

This yarn.  I love it... it's so nice to knit up!

In this color brown, but solid, without the flecks.

Stash alert!! It's on sale this week for $2.29 a skein.  I also had a coupon for 25% off my entire purchase.

I spent $32.

Expensive doll sweater??  LOL!

Knit on...

Friday, October 31, 2014

I am SOOO organized... almost.

So I went looking for the pink yarn to finish these... which I found, and I finished.  Doll slippers, about 2 inches long each.

Then I found the pieces for this...

The front piece was stained by something yucky.  I remember when I started this, but I don't remember setting it aside and not finishing it up.

So I washed it in some shampoo and the stain came out.  after it was dry I sewed in the sleeves.

NOW I have to go back into my craft room to find some yarn that matches that cream color, to finish up the front edges.

OMG I'm afraid to do it... what will I find next??

Knit on...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Craft Fair No. 2 and on the Needles...

I always forget to take pictures when I'm doing a project... I guess I am a bit of a technology dinosaur.  I was working on some doll sweaters this past week, and someone asked me for the pattern.  I don't use a pattern for most of the sweaters I'm making because you just knit squares or rectangles.  So I tried to write down what I did.  Ha ha... I will never be a pattern writer and I don't expect to ever sell them!  But I do love to knit them, and selling them is even better.

So this is for my nameless un-named friend...(I realized I should not have called her nameless, she has a name, I'm just not naming her here.  Sorry, friend!)   and anyone else who wants to know.  I make no guarantees that this will work for everyone, it's just what I do while DH is watching bad TV in the evenings.

This sweater used some old acrylic fuzzy yarn from the stash, about 2-3 ounces I think.  It was well aged, the skein was in my closet forever.  That's a little bracelet on the sleeve.  This one got some primitive free-hand embroidery for fun.

For a cardigan sweater, I usually cast on enough stitches for the back so I have a rectangle of about 5 to 5.5 inches when the stitches are kind of spread a bit on the needles.  On my number 7 or 8US needles with worsted weight yarn (4), that's somewhere between 28 and 32 stitches, but it could be more or less depending upon yarn weight.  I'm more concerned with getting the size than how many stitches.  The waist measurement on most of these dolls is about 11 inches, so you want ABOUT half that width.  Keep in mind that the ribbing will be slightly smaller than the body of the sweater, but it's stretchy.  Once you're past the ribbing, it will measure about 6 inches wide.

I knit four rows of K1P1 ribbing.  After that, I switch to stockinet or maybe garter stitch for the body.  If I decide to do a pattern, I might throw in some purl stitches on the right side rows, maybe every third or fourth stitch.  Sometimes I stagger them.  Whatever, I'm making this up as I go along.  If you have a pattern book you can pick any pattern that has an even number of stitches.

I just knit until the sweater is about 5 to 5.5 inches long.  Then I put the center stitches on a stitch holder, pin, or scrap yarn, and knit the shoulders for four more rows.  You'll have to join another ball of yarn to do the second shoulder, or you can do one, bind off, cut the yarn, reattach it on the other side and do the second shoulder.  It takes less than a yard of yarn to do each shoulder so you can wind off a little bit and put it aside before you start, if you think of it.  Or if you had an actual skein of yarn that you purchased, wind it into more than one ball or cake.   If you're like me and you're using up your stash, maybe you have multiple little wads of yarn that you can access.

But I digress...

There are somewhere between 8 and 12 stitches in each shoulder.  Bind off after the fourth row... or the fifth.  I find that if you bind off on the wrong side, using KNIT and not purl stitches, the front edge lays flatter than if you use purl stitches or bind off from the front using knits.  Leave about 4 inch tails on each shoulder and cut the yarn.

See what I mean?  Not a pattern writer!  You sort of divide the back into thirds and take that number of stitches for the neck edge.  Divide what's left into right side and left side.  The doll's neck measurement is about an inch and a half wide across the front, and you're going to finish that neck edge.  So you need enough stitches on a holder to go across the doll's neck.  Make it bigger rather than smaller than the actual doll.  Nobody likes a tight neck opening!

The fronts are cast on with half the number of stitches used on the back PLUS 3.  So if you used 32 stitches for the front, each FRONT piece is 16 + 3 or 19 stitches.  Same drill, four rows of ribbing, BUT you always knit the three edge stitches where the fronts will overlap.  You will mirror everything you do on the right with what you do on the left.  So pick up the first ball of yarn, knit in pattern on say 16 stitches, knit three, drop that yarn and push the work to the right; go to the next piece, switch balls of yarn, knit three, knit in pattern on 16...  then flip and repeat.

Knitting the fronts both at the same time keeps them even but the yarn gets tangled if you do stripes.
WHILE YOU ARE DOING THIS, you knit in button holes on the right side every inch to inch and a half.  If you have three buttons, you space them evenly so one is near the bottom (about row 3-4), one in the center and one near the neck.  You can do four buttons or even five, but three is usually plenty.   When I do the second buttonhole, I count the ribs between the first and second, then do the third one the same number or ribs up.  Mostly.  Don't ask...

Why buttonholes?  Well, Velcro will work but the hook side will get stuck on everything and eventually you'll have a matted, pilly sweater.  AND it's a pain to sew on!  Trust me, buttonholes are better.

Knit until you reach the same length as the back up to the neck opening.  You can count rows or just eyeball it.  Seriously, it WILL NOT MATTER if you're off a row.  If you had 10 stitches for the shoulders for the back, have ten on each side for the fronts, and put the rest of the stitches on holders.  Knit for more rows, or the same number you did for the back.  Bind off in the same manner.  Leave a nice long tail to sew the pieces together (6 to 8 inches) and cut the yarn.

Button hole:  Knit 2 at the center front edge of the RIGHT front, yarn over, knit the next two stitches together.  Done.  The button will poke up through the opening.  I use 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch shank buttons.  (For girl doll sweaters.  For BOY doll sweaters put the buttonholes in the left front.  Women are always RIGHT, men are LEFT over.)

Sew the shoulder seams together using your favorite method.  I like the mattress stitch best.  It's invisible and easy.  Here's a tutorial but you can use the whip stitch or whatever you like.

The sweaters on the lower left of this photo are all knit the same way... some are plain stockinet stitch, some have a little pattern with an occasional pearl stitch thrown in for a simple pattern.
Simple pattern on front and back, plain sleeves. 
Our booth at the last craft fair.

The sweater on the doll above has short sleeves.  Yarn shortage.  Sleeves are easy.  After you sew the shoulder seams, you pick up stitches along the side, I usually pick up about 9-10 stitches between the midpoint of the back side seam and the shoulder, then pick up the same number from the shoulder to the midpoint of the front.  You want the sleeve to be about -- well I usually eyeball it but I just measured one and it's 4 to 4 1/2 inches wide. 
The shoulder seam is in the big orange stripe.  Trust me... I love the mattress stitch!

Then you knit for about three inches for a long sleeve and 1-1 1/4 inches for a short sleeve OR until you have gone through just less than half of the yarn you have left in that color.  Knit four rows of ribbing, binding off the last row.   You need about 18 inches of yarn for four rows of ribbing and a tail.  About.  If I'm running out of yarn I will do fewer rows of ribbing sometimes.

It's for a doll, people.

Sew up the side seams using the yarn tails you left..  Now you're ready for the neck edge.

I start with the sweater in my lap, ride side facing me.  I put those RIGHT FRONT stitches on a 9 inch single point needle.  Sometimes I size down the needle, sometimes not.  Then in the gap between those stitches and the ones from the back, pick up anywhere from 4 to 8 stitches by poking the needle into the holes along the edge of the piece, trying to have the same number before the side seam as after.

You do this with the right side facing you because if you do it from the WRONG side, you get an ugly ridge on the outside of your sweater where you picked up those stitches.  Ask me how I know this.  Well, don't really, I'm sure you know!

Then knit the stitches from the yarn holder for the sweater back.  Then pick up the same number on the left side gap as you did on the right, but don't make yourself crazy over it.  If you have one more or less it's OK.  But not more than one.  Then knit the last group of stitches.

Turn the work and do K1P1 ribbing for 2-3 rows.  Bind off.  Weave in your loose ends.  DONE!

Well, you still have to sew on the buttons.   You can block if you usually do that, but I don't find it strictly necessary.

Bonus:  This sweater can be buttoned in the front like a cardigan is meant to, or in the back.  So there's no wrong way for your child to play with it.

Last year I went totally crazy and adapted a baby sweater hoodie to a doll.  It was fun and insane, and I did four of them and sold them all!  But you have to hand stitch a zipper in them which is kind of putsy.  The nice thing is they go on the doll front, you flip the doll over and zip down the back.  And most little girls can handle a zipper.  But 18" doll heads are big relative to their bodies, like children, so the hood takes almost as much yarn as the rest of the sweater!

I should have written down what I did while I was doing it... oh, well, maybe another day.  It's a raglan sleeve, knitted from the hood down all in one piece.  The only seams are the ones in the sleeves, although you can knit them in the round if you're so inclined! 
Oh, and while I had all that fake mohair fuzzy yarn, I knit a couple of surplice or wrap sweaters... some day I might write down what I did for that too.  
I'm working on writing up the pattern for the wrap sweater too... this is my bin before the first sale.
If you attempt to make a sweater following these instructions here's my disclaimer:  everyone knits differently -- your gauge WILL vary depending upon how tight you knit, what yarn you use, what mood you're in, and your needle sizes.  Even whether you use metal or bamboo needles!  I used both worsted and DK weight yarn, but if you go by the measurements you should be able to adjust your number of stitches.  You'll figure it out.  Also, there are a gazillion free patterns on the web if you need one that's better than this!  Try or Google doll knitting patterns. 
SO if you have success I'll be happy that you did, and if you don't, well, that's what you get for listening to me.  I said I was no expert!  Just kidding...
Knit on!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Craft Fair Part 2

So one craft fair is done this year, two more to come.  The next one is in two weeks.

The one we just finished, A Community Affair, has been going on for over 30 years.  I can't remember if they said '32nd' or '37th'... they kind of sound the same.  I can't say enough about the helpful staff and the wonderful organizers!  They made us feel welcome, they had lots of helpers there to wheel in your stuff or bring you chairs, and they had runners to deliver lunch orders and coffee, and even desserts in the afternoon!

The crowd was fair-to-middlin' as they used to say.  I thought there were too many lulls but maybe that's how it goes when it's drizzly and cold.  There were a lot of people who walked by our table, admired, and walked on. 
I thought we had awesome stuff!!  Our booth was very attractive...

...although it was crowded because our booth partner had big stuff, those are deco-mesh wreaths.

We had everything from dresses and sweaters to doll jewelry.

Socks and slippers and mittens...

Sleeping bags and pillows...

And robes and PJs... and that's a basket of tutus.
Who knows what people are going to want and what they're not... we sold no robes, one dress and one tutu!  We had adorable leggings to go under the tutus.  People bought the leggings...
What went?  I have to do a final inventory but we sold sweaters, slippers, PJs, sleeping bags and pillows.  Oh, and hats.  Lots of hats!
We were competing with three other vendors selling doll items.  They weren't exactly alike, but one vendor had made hundreds of party dresses and fancy coats and costumes.  She said she was disappointed in sales but I have no idea what she was measuring that against.  Another woman had lots of doll furniture and some sports-themed stuff... Badgers and Packers.  She also expressed dismay at her sales.
There were lots of people walking by with no packages, but we weren't near the exit so maybe they bought once they passed us.
The two extremes:  The woman next to us sold NOTHING.  Not a blessed thing, all day.  And the woman across the way was selling little people made out of old cans like there was no tomorrow.
We did OK... that is we made enough to earn back the registration fees, pay for lunch, and take home a respectable amount split between us.  I wish it had been more, but oh well.  I just enjoyed myself a whole lot in spite of it!
We did learn a few things... we need to get some better display racks, since ours kept falling over.  We need to get our own booth; sharing a space with someone selling other merchandise cramps our style and doesn't allow us to display to our best advantage. 
And despite our best efforts to colorize and make 'outfits', little girls will always want the red, white and blue sweater with a pink hat. 
Our inventory is pretty good for the sale coming up in two weeks.   Maybe this weekend I can finally get to sewing something for myself!
Sew on...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ready for the Craft Fair

What have you been doing since I posted last?  Did you miss me?

I have been a busy person...

At work we had our Fiscal Year End on October 3.  This year end is not to be confused in any way with any type of Happy New Year.  For a week, the finance people shut the systems down, and we're expected to finalize all our numbers without it.  I pulled together many reports for people who needed to adjust something or fix something or make something go away or come back.

Then hubby and I celebrated 43 years of wedded bliss.  Well, celebrated may be too strong a word.  We were both sick with whatever kind of crud is going through the school system, courtesy of our middle school grand.   

We spent the evening partially in the pharmacy staring at all the choices.

 None of them worked very well.  I lost a whole weekend like this:
 Went through at least three boxes of these...
 And a whole lot of this:

I'm better now but DH is still coughing some.  Of course you know whatever HE gets is SO much worse than anything I get.  His is always a situation of 'critical condition'...

Then I work on my craft fair stuff.  I think I'm ready for this weekend.  We're setting up on Friday night and opening Saturday at 9 a.m.  The show is called A Community Affair.  It's in Menomonee Falls, WI, so if you're in the neighborhood, stop by.

I'm furiously knitting tiny slippers, but here's my bin... can you see my feet at the side of the picture?  Well, maybe it's my legs.  The plastic bag is full of knee socks.  I have dresses on hangers, pants, sweaters, tees and leggings, PJs... I hope I have enough to last for three sales.  If not I know what I'll be doing at night instead of sleeping!

Here is our door prize:

A pink robe and PJs at the left, a little hat, sweater and mittens with a denim skirt, and a pillow and sleeping bag.  If I get a pair of slippers done to match the robe I'm sticking that in there too.  Total value around $50.

I'm trying to sew some Christmas dresses, some more tee shirts, and maybe a few more sets of pajamas for winter, with flannel bottoms and long sleeved tops.  I know dolls don't care, but moms do and they're the ones who are buying!

Sew on...