Saturday, January 28, 2017

The poncho that pooched

I've been knitting for a very long time. I can't always tell when a pattern is going to turn out well, either in function or fit. I had a poncho as a teen that I wish I had kept so that I could have created a pattern from it. It was very simple but no pattern that I've seen over the years comes close to what I'm remembering.

I selected a pattern available through Ravelry called the Liliane Poncho. The pattern was not difficult and was adaptable to many weights of yarn. As a poncho, exact fit wasn't an issue. I chose Rowan pure wool yarn as it was a color I liked and the yarn store had enough of it in stock....or so I thought. That isn't a comment on the store, I'll explain in a moment.

There is some shoulder shaping to this poncho which is nice for a flattering fit. Knit on circular needles, the only purling done is within the 20 stitch panel of cables in the center front. I should have paid closer attention to the shoulder shaping. Much of this was knit in public areas where I wasn't about to try it on. The shaping would have looked much better if I had stopped at the green arrow rather than the yellow. My poncho pooches because of the too-long shoulder shaping. If you're a knitter, you'll know that trying things on is important, but trying on a poncho with over 300 stitches on a long cable needle isn't the easiest thing to do.
Last night I lightly steamed all of the poncho and then concentrated on the border, hoping to get it to lay flat. As you can tell in these photos, that didn't work well.
The pattern called for a slightly different border (mine is a seed stitch) which would have been deeper and ended in a V in the front. I would have done that but as I began my last skein of yarn, I could see that I would be cutting this close if I hoped to finish with a suitable length. Perhaps I should have ended the cable panel earlier but there is a rhythm to that cabling and cutting it off in the middle just didn't look right. 

Tomorrow when I see the ladies in my knitting group, I will get opinions and advice. Should I try soaking this entire thing and pinning it to block? Maybe heavier steaming is required? Maybe I should pick up stitches at the bottom in another yarn, knit an edging and turn all of that under like a dress hem? That seems like it would be bulky.
This really is warm and I am often cold. At the very least, this will be something I wear around the house but I really do need to improve the appearance of that border. The cable panel is very pretty.
There were 377 stitches on the needle at the time of casting off. I had trimmed all of the loose ends after weaving in my joins, and knotted them together to improve my chances of not running short. That didn't work. I was 25 stitches short of finishing with the Rowan yarn. I picked a yarn that is nothing like this wool but was closest in color. 

No matter how long you've worked at a craft, a project can still be humbling. By the way, humbling, in this case, is a substitute word for %$#^&* frustrating. 

Chain Maille Bracelets and some coloring

Wow, the last day of January already. Where did the month go in my craft room? To be honest, my mess creativity is never confined to just my craft room. Currently I have a knitting bag on the living room chair with a new project in it; an old project upstairs in my bedroom for insomnia knitting; a recently finished knitting project on the ironing board in the kitchen (it blocked there overnight); fabric and patterns in a bag on the floor of my craft room waiting for the mood to sew to strike; and for the rest of the room I'll be generously kind and say it looks like I've been busy. 

I'm keeping up with my journal entries in the planner (see my previous post) and have found a combination of Prismacolor pencils that pleases me for hair color of the two gingers in my life, my grandkids. 💕 I have a few stamps from Roberto's Rascals line at C.C. Designs Henry and Twila don't look like my grandchildren, but colored this way, they certainly remind me of them. The lines you see are part of the journal pages. What doesn't show in the photo are the sheer sparkly highlights of rain on the window and the gossamer wings and skirt of Twila's dress. Her wand is sparkly also. All of the coloring was done with Prismacolor pencils. Twila didn't stamp with the heavy handed eyelashes, that was done to fix an ink smudge that was an accident.

My longest friendship is with a woman named Connie who I have known since we were in kindergarten. We won't discuss how many decades ago that was!  Her birthday is today and this is the card she should be opening right about now:
We also won't discuss whether we resemble these images but she is blonde and I've seen her wear green and I'm often in blue and have previously dark hair with silver highlights. Sounds better than gray, right? This stamp is from Art Impressions and was colored with Copic markers.

I'm learning to do chain maille jewelry. I don't know how far I'll go with this but these are two versions of the same pattern. The company that wrote the instructions calls this Japanese Lace but I'm guessing there is a generic name for the pattern that I haven't discovered yet. The illustrations were clear but the directions left a bit to be desired. I figured out the printed mistake and made these bracelets from rings purchased elsewhere. They are slightly larger than the kit contents and were easier to handle while learning this technique. I will make the kit bracelet soon. The detail is most clearly seen in the red and silver version.

This one is shinier with both the copper and silver rings having a different finish than the above version. Both bracelets have magnetic closures which I may change as they might drive me crazy, especially on the bracelet below. The magnets want to hold onto ALL of those silver rings!

It is time to check on the project on the ironing board. I hope to post positive news on that soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I did it MY way....

Hear Frank Sinatra singing "My Way" in the background? Neither do I, but I did do it my way. What did I do? I decided to use a planner and begin a journal.

A person could look at Pinterest and various blogs and think something is cute, pretty, nice, clever....but know that they will never keep up with that method of planning and journaling. I've learned that I like to look at some things but not DO those particular things. I like to look at oil paintings, but not do them. I love watermelon prints but don't really care to eat watermelon. I like the idea of art journals, but doing them...not my thing.

When it comes to appointments and tracking birthdays, I use my phone which syncs to my PC so I rarely forget those dates. I also write it on the large calendar on the refrigerator. I've been married for decades and the family looks there to see what is coming up, even those who live on their own now.
So why did I buy a planner last week? I am entering important dates on the calendar grid format and journaling my day on the daily part of the planner. Many years ago I kept a written journal. I have tried to get back into that but not succeeded. In a formal looking book, I can't write in incomplete sentences. The ghosts of my former English teachers would haunt me!

The limited space on the daily pages allows me to record anything important to me. "Important" ranges from where my once-a-month dinner buddies and I ate to something precious that one the grandkids said. The spaces aren't so large that if nothing is recorded on a given day, it doesn't look neglected, it just looks like a breather.
By adding my choice of art to it, be it stickers, stamped images or something I've drawn myself, I am happy with the pages. Perhaps when I am gone (no time soon!), my survivors will find this planner fun to look through. They can roll their eyes at the puns that will inevitably find their way to the pages and be touched by the comments I've made about the people I love. I really think this is something that I will keep yearly.

This will be a fun way for me to play with my ever-growing collection of stamps, pencils and markers. The pair of dogs on the image below is my current favorite. The accompanying phrase is "All this world needs is more wagging and less barking". The stamp set is Playful Pups from My Favorite Things.
White areas on photos added to preserve privacy

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Arroyo, a knitted shawl

Now that the gift has been delivered (a month ago, actually) I can share this bit of knitting. This scarf pattern is called Arroyo and is free through Ravelry. ( Click here )
There is a bit of curve to this small shawl which makes it sit well on the shoulders. The lacy design is an easy repeat and the main part of the shawl is garter stitch. That is where the shaping occurs.
I used two skeins of Rhichard Devrieze handpainted yarn. Unfortunately I cannot name the color of the yarn as I sent one label with the gift for laundering instructions and have misplaced the other tag. 
The color is more accurate in the first two photos above. Here the shawl looks muted and my shirt looks brown rather than black. 
The shawl did not look bad before blocking, but definitely looked better after, especially the lacy area.
I would rate this pattern as an advanced beginner to intermediate. I don't teach knitting so I could be off in this, and I've been knitting for many, many years. I still make mistakes, especially when distracted. Be kind to yourself when this happens. 

I plan to make this again for myself and probably for others as future gifts. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Small changes can bring big happiness

I've never chosen a word for the year before, but I think I will embrace Happiness as my word for 2017. I said a lot about outlooks in my previous post and I feel even stronger about those sentiments a week later.

So.....what have I done about gettin' happy lately?  I've completed some chores that had been on a procrastination list (unofficially, of course!) and since I seem to clean and purge at least one area of the house every January, I tackled kitchen cabinets and related storage areas this past week. My obsession with dishes apparently includes disposable plates and bowls too. I may have 11 paper plates with blue designs on them but if I'm entertaining and expect 12 people, I need to buy 12 matching plates and let's go green this time. By the next event I have 11 blue plates, 4 green ones and only expect 8 people but it is the Fourth of July and everyone knows you need red, white and blue plates then!

True confession time is over. Lunch today will be on green plates and some of the others that are durable will become paint palettes for acrylic paint projects.

One such project was brightening up this yard sign.
We have a wrought iron post near our front porch with hooks that hold wood or resin signs for various holidays and seasons. The company that made the signs is now concentrating on fabric banners/flags so I baby what I have and touch them up when needed.

The above design is by Debbie Mumm. I had spring/summer dishes of hers and snowmen winter dishes too. Did I mention I had a dish obsession? I liked most Debbie Mumm designs and while I liked this Santa, he was never my favorite, mainly because he didn't look very happy. I think he looks overwhelmed. Does he have 16 nations left to visit and only 4 hours left? Is he stuck pondering if someone was more naughty than nice?  While the colors did fade a bit after many Decembers, the shades were always more muted than I would have liked.

With a vow to use up paint that I had (tossing over a dozen bottles that had dried up!), I brightened up the sign and Santa's disposition:
The overuse of dots on Santa's mittens are hiding mistakes. I probably should have sanded the old paint but coulda-woulda-shoulda always hits after something is done. His face had always been very close in color to his beard and his eyes were flat and beady. His complexion might be a bit ruddy now, but should see me when I get cold! Just adding a curve to his cheeks which reshaped his now larger eyes, plus the white highlights made Santa look cheerier.
Santa is going to look good hanging around my front door next December and you know what? That makes me Happy.