Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cashmere

So funny how things work out sometimes. Just a couple of days after my post last Tuesday about the latest FO with Ravenwood Cashmere, Clara Parkes writes this article about it. Please read this article. As usual, Clara did a fantastic job with it. I have a few pictures to share with you from our trip this time last year to the Rasmussen's farm, where goats are happily living and growing this fiber on their wiggly little bodies.
 Here are just a couple of the squirmy little goats. This year, the last count I got from Delia was 53 of these new goats who will hopefully be lending cashmere next spring. Some won't make it, though, and will be sold for other purposes.
 Here are Delia and Reed Rasmussen, the owners of this lovely farm and all those happy goats.
They are primo folks.
 As is Max, one of the Maremma who guards the goats from predators. He looks sweet, but don't get in the way of his job. He'll eat you.

 And so will Sophie.
A lot of hard work and care go into producing this lovely, lovely yarn. If you want to keep up with just what all that entails, visit Delia's blog. You'll also find more cute pictures of goats. And that's sure to bring a smile.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gratitude

This will be a rare pictureless post because I just have to tell you about a recent bit of sunshine in my life. As a business, I have donated goodies to a few fiber retreats and events in the past. I usually mark it up to advertising and promotion and file it away. Most of the time, way most of the time, I never hear anything else about it. Once I donated to a sock knitting retreat here in Washington state and actually got two thank you notes from attendees of the retreat. I was flabbergasted. I posted about it here.
Recently, however, I had this experience wildly improved upon by the ladies of the River Cities Fiber Clan. This is my third year to donate to this retreat. This year, I sent them a few goodies for their April retreat, including a sock knitting kit for a door prize. Folks, I had already received about a dozen thank you's by e-mail over this past month from individuals who attended the RCFC's Fiber Frolic this year, and then yesterday I received a thank you note by regular mail with 26 ladies' signatures! Here is the list of donors for this retreat. That's a lot of thanking! And notice how well they make up this list for us all, including links to us (you'll find me under "Figheadh"). I'm here to tell you that this is rare.
I'm simply blown away. This is how to do things with style. I salute the members of the River Cities Fiber Clan. You are top notch! And you have vividly reminded me to be thankful in my own doings and to sometimes send a good old-fashioned thank you note. It makes a big difference.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lace is Crunchy

But it doesn't stay crunchy...if you block it.

Start with some beautiful domestic cashmere lace weight yarn...

...whip up a sample of the Lace Scarf (so crunchy) in partnership with your friend Kelli...


...dream all the while that it will turn out like this...


...as light and soft as air.


But only after you do this to it. Pattern: Lace Scarf by Jen Hagan







And now on Ravelry!

Monday, May 23, 2011

When the Dog Bites

Mondays are usually pretty sloggy days for me mentally, so I thought I would take them to remember the good things, the beautiful things, my favorite things...

Tazo Chai tea
antique mother-of-pearl buttons in a jar

yarn with the name of the animal who gave the fiber


(Addison is Gotland and Chocolate Chip and Socks are Pygora and Gotland)

from Shaggy Bear Farms

I hope you're getting in touch with some of your favorite things today.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Buttons, Part Two

Thanks for returning for part two of the button info! I hope I've passed on something to liven up your knitting and crocheting (because these ideas could work for either one). Let me know if you have more to share on this topic. We all need new techniques in our repertoire!


First up--you probably remember these two little guys from previous posts. The one in back is made with Schaefer Lola and the one in front, with Mission Falls 136. Both yarns are discontinued, but if you do a search I know you can find some. Both these cardigans have the buttons attached the somewhat traditional way. The crew neck one follows the pattern (soon to be released Figheadh Fundamental Baby Cardigan) and has the button band being worked and buttons attached before working the buttonhole band. This way, the holes are worked to match the already-affixed buttons. The V-neck cardi had buttonholes on both bands with one set of holes closed as the buttons were attached.

On these two bulky yarn samples, however, I tried a couple of different methods. If you've been following along, you will see that I traded out the original green buttons most of us agreed on with some that are a little more bright and a little bigger. The other ones were getting lost in all that Brown Sheep Lanaloft Bulky goodness.
The crew neck version has the buttons attached to a ribbon strip, as I showed you in yesterday's post, but this time I whip-stitched the ribbon to the band. On the V-neck version, I took some advice from Susanna Pfeffer again from reading her article in a VK Fall/Winter 1986 article. This was an experiment, so please excuse the messiness--you can see the stretchy cord ends poking out everywhere. Why? Because I made little "cuff links" with two sets of buttons, joining them with some stretchy bands and some stretchy jelly cord like you would use for making jewelry. A better way to join the two buttons would be to use wax dental floss (suggested also by Pfeffer) or even some elastic cord. Good luck with the elastic cord, however. I could only find it in the exciting colors of white...or black.
Here's a closeup. of course I will be dismantling these in this case and sewing the buttons on this sweater. Babies would only take them right off and eat them. Then the parents would be pacing the floor and hoping and praying for it (or them...or all!) to pass gently. And that's just no fun for anyone, now, is it?

I will try this on the next adult cardigan I knit up. I think it's a neat idea.

Share your button ideas with us. This was a fun exercise, and I'm sure there's a world of other ways to attach buttons to our yarny makings. What's your favorite way?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buttons, Part One

I'm finally here with the first of two button posts I've been promising. We've been having some gorgeous weather up here in the upper left corner of the US and it had me out most of the day yesterday working in the yard. What fun! The day before that I spent a bunch of time working on something for my oldest daughter Emily. Her birthday is in 16 days and I'm making some surprises! Shhhh. She won't see this. She's vacationing in the mountains with the twins. Sneaky, sneaky.


On with the show!

Not only did I finish the two little cotton cardigans, but they're all blocked and buttoned up! The orange children's size 8, if you will remember, is made with Cascade Cotton Rich and the newborn one is with Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. The Mission Falls is one and a half skeins of the leftover yarn from this crocheted project. These are some comfy, soft cardigans!


Okay, let's go over how we did this. Having already been advised by Elizabeth Zimmerman to make buttonholes on both bands and sew the button to whichever side you want by closing the holes on that side, I made both of these little sweaters with twice as many holes as needed. They were each ready for either attaching the buttons directly to the fabric or...maybe there's another way.

Bingo! I found an article in my Fall/Winter 1986 issue of Vogue Knitting about attaching buttons using the "ribbon method." I already had in mind stitching a length of ribbon to the bands of a cardigan to pretty it up, but the "On the Button" article in VK by Susanna Pfeffer gave me an even better way to do it.

As suggested by Ms. Pfeffer, I cut some lengths of ribbon to fit the button bands and then lay a bead of Fray Check at each cut end. The article suggests zigzagging the ends, but I love my trusty Fray Check--so easy. I lay the strips on a piece of wax paper to apply the goo and then let them dry completely before attaching the buttons.


Then I marked the button placement on each strip of ribbon with my spy-gadget disappearing ink marker.



At this point, it was easy to sew the buttons to the ribbon instead of directly onto the knitted fabric (always a bit tricky). First I attached each button with a couple of passes through the button. Then I worked a thread shank between the button and the ribbon to make the button stand up a little for ease of sliding through the buttonhole--that's why each ribbon strip looks a little puckery once the buttons are on. Then I ran passes a few more times through the button before working one more shank treatment just for be-sures. You can also work up a couple of different looks for variety this way. The two above are for the little natural ivory colored newborn cardi. I thought it would be nice to have one look in pearly buttons on satin ribbon and one in wooden buttons on grosgrain.

Judge for yourself. Wood on grosgrain...or the pearly look in the top picture? Good thing is, you can change it out very easily. First I attached the strip through the back of the buttonholes on one side and then I buttoned up the remaining side just as you normally would. The test remains for this to work with a real, live, squirmy person inside.


Been trying to remedy that. I need models, folks. If any of you know someone with babies and kids in the Tacoma area who would like to have their wee ones model some Figheadh cardigans, let me know by sending me an e-mail please at jen@jenhagan.com.


I need to see if these really work on humans. Thanks for your help!


I'll be back soon with part two of the button fun. In the meantime, let me know if you have any other button advice for knitted and crocheted garments. I need your collective wisdom!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whoopsuh!

That's what my Granny Kate used to say when we'd fall down or run into a wall or something. I hit a wall today before I got the prep done to show you the button info I promised Wednesday. Sooo...

...instead I'll show you some highlights from this past week or so. All these are less-than-stellar phone cam pics, so please excuse the quality.



A little over a week ago Natalie and I walked a couple of miles from her apartment down to the Tacoma Farmer's Market. There are several in our area, with the closest one to home happening on Saturdays and the next closest on Tuesday evenings. This one is downtown and closest to Natalie. I got some bagels (pumpernickel--my fave!--and some onion-garlic for Fred) and some huge green onions for the fish tacos I was making that night. There was a lady selling crocheted items. That was good to see!


Here is the view from the top of the hill that Fred and I trudge up several times a week. It's kinda mighty. Those are our shadows. Look at that lovely panorama. Mt Rainier is just to the right down there (or over there, I should say).


On Wednesday I finagled Fred into taking me for some Pho! I have been trying to get around to that since I moved here nine years ago. You see, we are rich with Pho and teriyaki around here. This chicken pho was outstanding! The best chicken noodle soup I've ever tasted!



And I have an update on the caucasian baby doll pile. Yep, moved again. I went to the craft store today for some elastic cord and thought I'd check up on them. Now I get it. They are for making tiny bride and groom outfits (note Itty Bitty Knitties book on shelf above). Doesn't that seem twisted to you or is it just me?


Okay, I'll be back soon with that button info. Have a delicious (and hopefully infant-wedding-free) weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WWIP #4: Swatches, Etc!

Welcome and happy Wednesday! First I want to apologize for being a no-show last Friday for FO day. I spent literally the whole day trying to finish the orange cardigan shown later in this post. And yesterday I spent an unbelievable amount of time swatching for two designs.

This morning I got all the swatches washed and blocked--one big one and seven little guys. Whew. Why so big? Because it's for an Aran design and you have to get all the stitch patterns represented. Why so many little ones? I wanted to try an element of the design with different weights of yarn. I tried worsted, DK, and sport weight. I also wanted to see how it would look in different fibers, so there's a couple of different wools, a superwash wool, an alpaca, a wool/cashmere blend, and a wool/silk blend in the bunch.
What's this? Another swatch?


Fooled ya! It's a candle. Isn't that pretty? This was one of my Mother's Day presents from youngest daughter. I'm not usually one to leave candles unburnt, but I don't see messing with this one. She found it at Anthropologie (of course--the source for multitudinous pretty things!)

Here's the previously mentioned size 8 orange cardigan in Cascade Cotton Rich*. I finished her button/buttonhole bands and collar and wove in all her ends this morning. Now she just needs a blocking and some buttons. I plan to post about buttons Friday along with some FO pics. I learned some really neat tricks for adding buttons and I can't wait to show you. You see I've also gotten a good start on the size 6 cardigan with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in M-100 Supreme Purple. I know better than to promise this as a Friday FO this week. Maybe next?

*I can't find anywhere you can buy this color online, so no linky-doo. :-(

I'll also show you a peek at something that's been taking way too much of my attention lately. I can't help it! These things wake me up at night begging me to knit them. What am I gonna do?

You think I'm NOT going to make something out of these two gorgeous yarns? You're asking too much of me. This Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Corsage and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Orchid wanted to play together and I couldn't say no. Could you?


See you soon, and why don't you give in to those knits. You know you want to. (Enabler I am.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Collections

Every spring I like to be on the lookout for fallen bird eggs. I guess this is my grown-up Easter egg hunt. The one above, nestled in a wad of yarn (of course) is my first find of the year and I spied it in my own yard last Wednesday as I mowed the lawn. There it was, perched precariously on the curb, waiting for me. You know what that means, though, don't you? Especially since we have no trees in our yard, it means that it was most likely dropped there by a robber crow who had just made a meal of its contents. Not a lovely thought, but nature is what it is--at times beautiful and horrible all at once.
Here's a few shells from years past that I found on our walks through the surrounding neighborhoods, usually along the hill on N. 29th where there are trees aplenty. I love the colors. I like to imagine that little birds pecked their way out of these and flew strongly on to complete an entire life cycle with no robber crows interrupting.

From the sublime to the ridiculously knitty, here's a funny image from one of the vintage knitting booklets I leafed through this morning as I did some research for a piece I'm writing. He may be full of the devil, but he's dressed well for it, don't you think?

From another knitting leaflet just for teenagers here's a jaunty quiz involving knitted accessories. You can't beat this. Not with a wooden knitting needle.

I particularly loved looking through this December 25, 1948, issue of Women's Weekly. A friend who knows I collect these gave this to me, thankfully. It's a treasure. There are a couple of knitting patterns and some romantic stories and lots of curious ads. The funniest one was for halibut oil emulsion for babies. Yum. "Goes unnoticed in the milk." Well, that's just cuz baby can't talk yet to tell you he "notices" it.

Oh, and of course I collect yarn. Here are some of the lovely skeins of Hazel Knits I have. I'll knit them up someday, but until then I just love looking at them.


What do you find yourself collecting? I'd love to know.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

WWIP #3: A Mother-Daughter Project

My youngest daughter and I have been working on a sample of the Lo Shu Wrap together for the past year or so. I started it and then Nat picked up the (yarn) ball for a while. She recently passed it back to me and I'm going to try and finish her up.


We put scrap yarn markers to remember where Natalie's section was. Look--you can tell no difference in gauge. Like mother, like daughter.
I had forgotten what a fun project this is. The pattern is one that I adapted from a panel pattern of lace and a moving column of knit stitches. I made it into an allover lace and cable pattern for this wrap. It's just enough pattern to keep you interested, but not such a challenge that you can't memorize it after a few repeats. The Lo Shu in the background is the first one I made in Pagewood Farm Tundra, which is a 70/30 blend of silk and camel--a very rare combo and one that makes it easy to wear for most of the year. I've even thrown it over a summer dress on a chilly evening. This is the Lilac colorway and is the one I'm wearing in the pattern pictures. This second version is in Cascade Indulgence's blend of 70/30 alpaca and angora--another rare blend that is making a very cozy, fuzzy wrap. This blue colorway (#508) is fun to work with, but Nat says the bunny fibers were getting to her a bit. Does that happen to you?

I"m keeping it bright around here this week in honor of spring by working on some more colorful cardigans. This is a size 8 crew neck cardi in Cascade Cotton Rich in color #1457. Just got started on the first sleeve. Think I can finish this by Friday? Stick around and see! I'm hoping to also have a good start on a bright purple one by then. I'll be back Friday to show you.

Pssst...if you haven't mailed off your Mother's Day card yet, you'd better get hopping!



Tuesday, May 03, 2011

My Monday Project




After roller-coastery week of both extremely good and bad news, I was feeling pretty numb-headed yesterday. From the one-year birthday celebration of the grandtwins (good), to the horrible destruction of hundreds of tornadoes across the South (at least our family is okay!), to the excitement of the royal wedding (sweet!), to enjoying a sewing day with Natalie (also sweet), and then finally to the news of bin Laden's demise (bad AND good), I felt pretty jerked around. The perfect cure? Finish a project.


I had help from Creative Yarns in Macon, GA. The ivory yarn above came from there with the fabulous help of Christy Ott, owner of CY. First I ordered five skeins of the now-defunct-and-never-to-be-more Mission Falls 1824 cotton from Christy's site after a LYS search and then online search. Turned out she was actually out of stock, so she cancelled my order and refunded my card. Then do you know what she did? She contacted the folks at MF and bought about three bags of this yarn and then sent me my five skeins! This allowed me to finish this project I started almost a year ago with some leftover MF 1824 cotton I had in my stash. I wanted a little crochet piece to freshen up and springify the house. This is just the ticket.

Early yesterday morning (thus the dark pic) I laid out the blocks. I used the Coffee and Cream block from 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton. I had made some in monochrome and some mixy-matchy. Then I decided to line each block with a round of single crochet to make them easier to join.


Once I got all the blocks edged, I tried some different configurations to get it just how I wanted.






Then I put the strips together by single crochet into the back loops, RS together...



...and then joined the strips into the nine-patch one-piece using the same technique.



I then added a round of single crochet around the whole thing, then a round of double crochet, then another round of single crochet before finishing with two rounds of single crochet in the green. My original plan was to make it bigger, which is why I ordered five skeins of the ivory. I think I'm satisfied, which leaves three of the skeins for something else. I think I want to knit something with it, like a newborn cardi.


This little guy still needs a blocking, but I'm pretty happy with it. It does what I wanted--brightens up the place.




Along with Mr. Sun, who has made an appearance today. Ahhhh...That's better!