Monday, October 29, 2012

Candy Corn Halloween Costume

Our oldest grand daughter wants to be a candy corn for Halloween. Now that one threw me for a loop since it was so... different that the witches, fairies, princesses and such that most little girls want to be. When she stuck to the idea for over a month, I figured she was serious. After a while the idea really grew on me. I realized she wanted to be something creative and different. 

I had to admire her individuality and wonder if she was our budding artist? But I haven't had long to mull over that thought as I've had to wrap my head around how to create the costume. Hm... something that is cute and won't let our grand daughter, who's being tested for learning disabilities (they run rampid in our family), feel more ostracized for. That's why the idea of a cardboard candy cane that slung over her shoulders was thrown out.

For inspiration I hit the good ole Internet and sat down with our grand daughter to see what she liked and disliked. "Yes, dear grand daughter ,the white Go Go boots and long white gloves are great but sorry, the are out of budget." So this is what I came up with. A little off from my original idea since the skirt pattern was more confusing than Seattle's I-5 in a down pour at rush hour. I've been there.

With patterns running up to twenty some dollars, I settled for a cheap one but did it have to be so completely confusing. I sew better than I knit. having made everything from underwear to coats, but multiple skirt styles being explained at the same time, this is for A, B, C, E. While this part is for C, E, F, and this part is for.... and before I'd gotten through the first section my head was swimming in confusion. When I looked at the outside of the pattern I thought it was created in a simple manner I'd done before. Nope, why do simple when complicated would do seemed to be their theme. Bu

But before this, not having read anything but the back of the pattern, I tried to guess how much fabric I needed of the two colors orange and yellow. None of the pattern's styles called for two colors so it was no help.

With the fabric store a three hour drive away, I sat down to cut the skirt out and discovered I hadn't bought enough yellow fabric to follow the cutting instructions. That's when I read and re-read and re-read the instructions trying to figure out what in the world I was suppose to do with the pattern pieces. I finally threw up my hands and used four of the pattern pieces and went my own way. I put the skirt together from memory of past skirts I'd made. It worked and that's all that counts.

Skirt complete I moved on to sewing felt candy cane pieces on to an inexpensive sweatshirt. Using that same felt fabric, I glued together smaller candy corn peices and attached them to pipe cleaners to be wound around a black head band so that they stuck up like antennaes. 
The candy cane costume complete, I moved on to finish the three -year-olds fairy costume. Her mom and I found the sparklies for it in the Christmas isle of Hobby Lobby of course three hours away. We live in the Toolies out here, miles from anything. The ribbon for the waist band was created by sewing two ribbons together. Did you know every color under the sun is in fashion for Christmas decorations? Okay, squirrel but now I'm curious, what colors do you use? Okay, that was way off the subject but but that's how my brain works, flitting here and there like a squirrel.

Of course this fairy costume has been created after weeks of asking her what she wanted to be and her giving me a different answer. Finally it dawned on me, she didn't care as long as it had wings. She confirmed that with, " I just want to fly Grandma."  The costume has a few unique touches, after all I made it and the grand daughter wearing it is much like me.

I'll show you pictures and we'll talk again, if I survive Wednesday. It's my usual day to babysit while our daughter works. The three year old, the six month old, and I have story time in the morning at the library. Then lunch for our skimpy eater and the chow hound plus hopefully a nap for our six month old or she will be CRANKY. 

Then a dash to the school with the two youngest to dress the two older girls for a party at 2:00. The real challenge being I have to somehow figure out how to hold the hand of the three year old and carry the six month old while holding two costumes on hangers plus food treats for the two different classrooms. I'm not an octopus as I frequently tell the children when they all want something at once. So please wonderful wise readers of this blog. How am I going to pull this one off? Anyone volunteering to come with me?  

The day will have just begun as after school is a Halloween party at the library while the three year old has ballet lessons. Then their mom and I will do supper and who all is going trick or treating I'm not sure. Hopefully this chronically fatigued women will still be standing and not look like something the cat drug in when my hubby comes home and needs fed.  He doesn't get home until the kid's bedtime.  I'll let you know how it went on Thursday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What a Bone Head!

 Idiot at work here. Think I'm kidding. What would you call someone who was making socks toe up two at a time and used the book knitting one sock toe up instead? Yup, that is the book I had with me at the time and thinking two authors probably had somewhat the same take on the subject, I didn't stop. I kept going. I knitted the whole two gussets on two at a time toe up socks. I was wrong. Gussets done and ready to do the heel flap, the realization of my BIG boo boo stared me in the face as, home once more, I compared the two books.

Too bad, so sad but I'm not taking all those knitted rows out. It would be fifty some rows when you combine two socks for I increased from 30 stitches to 52 stitches with a 2 stitch increase ever other row.  I'm going to figure a way out of this problem if I have to do one sock flap at a time and then put back on the circular needle. That's later though, I'm spinning right now. 

I guess that is what happens when you grab and go in a hurry or grab and go and go and go. Five trips out of town, two of them ten hour trips in a week and a half and I had my socks with me but the wrong book the whole time.

I'll learn. The hard or wrong way of course for that is my M.O. Some say it makes me a good teacher. A sympathetic one anyway. I can definitely tell you that I've done worse most of the time. What a bone head. LOL Does it stop me, NEVER. I just take a break and then put my head down and keep moving. The destination has to be out there somewhere. LOL 

But I needed a bit of a break before I figured out how to get out of this mess so I've been spinning to calm my frazzled nerves. Not just the socks are jangling them. 
Out came the luxurious clouds of Blue-Leicester wool. It is what a gal at Interweave Press recommended for beginners. The wool is quite different than the typical Leicester wool. This wool has the long, long staple length but is buttery with a wonderful creamy sheen.

I have some wonderful camel down which I LOVE, LOVE but inch long fibers wasn't what I needed during a stress filled time of year so I'm so... glad I tucked away over a pound of this easy, relaxing wool to treadle my cares away.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wish Projects

With teaching my grand daughter to do Tunisian crochet, I couldn't help but wonder. You know my mind doesn't hold still for even a moment. I got to wondering about how easy a sweater would be to create from this dense style of crochet. A baby sweater for our youngest grand daughter would be an awesome project. I'm not normally a crocheter as I contain my efforts to lace, and embellishment with crochet.  It's because I'm prejudice. I don't like holey things. I want warmth against our cold Wyoming winds. Now the bottom of a knitted sweater is pretty nice to add crochet to and around baby blankets because the flannel provides the warmth but I'm not a summer sweater kind of gal so for me crochet is out. 
Then my mind took hold of a thought. What could I do to encourage my grand daughter to keep crochet up as a past time? At least until I can teach her to knit that is?  I realized the answer was that she needs to see something to inspires her. So off I went in search of just such a sweater made from Tunisian crochet. This sweater by Carla JC at For Baby Creations was just what I had imagined, okay, almost. I hadn't imagined the bottom lacy feature or the cool strip that divides the yoke from the body of the sweater but the general concept was what was in mind.
Unfortunately, this pattern isn't available but, I'm tempted to try and create my own with the help of an expert, our daughter, Toni. It may not look just like this but what I make never does end up just like the pattern anyway.
I wonder Toni is up for such an adventure? First though, I need to find a Tunisian crochet hook and some yarn for the project. Knit Picks doesn't have any so where do I look?
Then again maybe I'll knit this hat first. It would look so... cute on our oldest grand daughter. And this hat even has a free pattern on Ravelry by The Yarn Owl called Nine Dwindling Cables. We...ll maybe not. This hat looks like lots of thinking and I'm already working on learning two at a time socks and from the toe up. Yeah, I'll copy the pattern and tuck it away for now.
Now this one, I'm going to start when I get home. No beauty but it looks serviceable like me. It would make a good livestock chore cap, warm on the ears being double thick, and a visor to keep the snow from falling on my glasses obscuring my view.
Yup, this looks like a nice simple straight forward relaxing project. I'll dive in to something more complicated after I finish my socks.
How many projects do you have going at the same time? You can't have just one. It's like Lays potato chips.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What was I thinking?

I gave you the illusion that I was only making one pair of toe up socks but no... my story began with this book of Toni's. It's on an extended vacation from her house to mine . With this book I began two socks made from home-spun alpaca yarn on two sets of double point needles from the toe up.
You  probably know how that is working out. I've perfected the dumb founded look. The one where I panic because I've gotten so engrossed, merrily knitting along, that I've forgotten how many rows I've done increases on so I can knit a matching sock. This is despite of course the fact that I'm only suppose to be knitting a few rows and then switching to the other sock to knit a few rows. Hence, two socks on two sets of double point needles.
It's not my fault, completely that is for I was given a brain that repels numbers. I'm serious. They simply won't adhere. It makes me such a space cadet that when I do math problems, I have to write down every step. Because you can guarantee that at some point I'll forget what I've done and where I need to go and I'll either have to review or if I didn't write all the steps down, start all over again. Do math in my head. Are you kiding. Drove my poor kids nuts when I home-schooled them for they had to write down all the steps so I could help them with their math..
Of course they had learning disabilities of their own we had to find avenues around. It's contagious you know, spread by heredity on the mother's side. That's what the public school is telling our daughter as they begin testing our granddaughter. They are probably right for one of my daughters has the same numbers problem. I guess that means I can say it's all MY mother's fault. That blame game can go on and on.
So does the two socks knitted one and then the other have the same number of stitches on the same rows, hmmm, probably not, but they are both the same length measured with a ruler. Course one sock could have a couple tighter rows and need a third one to compensate. Who knows? I'm not counting super careful for I'll only have to do it again, and again, and again.
At least with the knitting two socks at the same time this is pretty hard to do. Of course you can forget to do increases on one side or the other. Yup, I ripped out rows a few times because of that. But over all things are going smoothly when I realize I'm going to have to create a heel and gusset and then...
up pops an advertizement on my e-mail for 40 % off sale on their books at Knit Picks. I just had to look. I HAD to -  40 % percent off was calling my name and who doesn't love a good sale?  Oh, sorry, I just said nanner, nanner, nanner didn't I?  I didn't share. My mother would have slapped me or use the wooden spoon on my behind.
Please forgive me. I checked. Yup, it's still on until the twenty something or other. Hurry and check it out for I do remember it was the early twenty something or was it the later? I told you. Numbers will not adhere to this brain. What's a girl to do?
Go check out if I need another book of course. I DO! There is a top down sweater book. I've just got to try that. Sweaters carry there own set of worries for me but we'll talk about them later when I've finished these socks.
So anyway, the two at a time book arrives and like a kid, I couldn't wait to try it so I tossed aside the alpaca socks like a hot potatoe and pulled out two skeins of yak/bamboo yarn I'd stashed away for just such a day. Did I mention I have ADD?
Then I knitted those to the heel and disappointment of disappointments, I now have four socks that need heels. Oh the complications we ensue if we do not pursue one path instead of two. On the bright side I learn in a hurry really well the heel up method. But which one?  Out came the Sock Toe Up book.
It had three choises. After all I am in persuit of learning new things. Just which heel shall I try?   


The gusset heel looks like something that would wrap nicely around. Might be just the sock for our oldest who has narrow heels and can't keep slip on shoes on her feet because of it. Also I've never done it before.  Hmmmm...
Or I could do a slip stitch heel. That's the kind I usually do so it isn't anything new.

Or there is this short heel thing-a-ma-jig. There is something suspicious about it. I looked through two books and it is hardly ever chosen. What's wrong with it? Anybody know?

You are just going to have to check back to see what I've decided.  I can't get that 40% sale out of my mind to make a decision. 

I do know there is no 00 needle socks in my future. Dawn, what ever posessed you? LOL

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Toe-Up Socks

You are seeing it correctly. I'm knitting two socks at the same time. When I called to tell my oldest daughter, I thought my buttons would pop off with pride. (Let's hope 'Pride doesn't go before the fall.")  I knew she better than anyone else would appreciate this accomplishment. She who speaks knitting and crochet fluently knows her mother has neither in her repertoire.
So imagine my amazement when this book spoke to me in English no less. Not that it was perfectly clear at first. Kind of like reading the King James Version of the Bible. You've got to read it a while to get the flow of the language to understand. So that is just what I did. Before going to sleep every night for three nights, I read the instructions before falling asleep. Maybe that was the ticket. Some of you may recall those learn a new language while you sleep tapes. Could be I was having rehearsals in my sleep but what ever it was, it worked.
When I sat down to begin knitting two socks at one time toe up, I did it. Okay, I did it correctly on the fifth try of ripping out ten rows or more but none the less I didn't have to call our daughter and ask how to.... I'm sure she was holding on to her hat in shock.
Lest you think I'm a complete beginner, I'm not a complete stranger to knitting socks. I added it up and I've made seven pairs. One for our son, one for our middle child, and two for our oldest daughter. She showed the most appreciation wearing hers often so she got two pairs. And last I made a pair for my husband who is a member of Goldilocks Club and said his were "Too thick" and he never wore them. Hasn't he ever heard of boot socks? His loss for they are now mine.
The other two pairs I made for me and they were thinner but didn't fit quite like I wanted. The whole process was a bit frustrating since because of my ADD and complete lack of short term memory, I had a hard time keeping track of what I did with which sock since they were knitting one at a time. Keep notes you say. I tried but I kept forgetting. Even having two going on separate double pointed needles didn't work super as I tried to knit on one sock and then the other keeping them progressing relatively the same pace and would begin day dreaming getting far ahead on one and not the other. 
Interruptions and lack of wondering mind control impeded my progress as I rip ripped repeatedly and then forgot how many rows I'd ripped. I know, I'm a hopeless case.  You can see how frustration for a time got the better of me until....
Well, at last I thought I had found a perfect solution until I opened the first few pages. Then I discovered it was written in Greek, or at least it appeared to me for though a number of times I studied its pages and stared at my needles and 40 inches of cable, I couldn't make any sence of it. Entirely not the books fault for you must learn to walk before you can run. So it was set aside to the Some Day pile to be picked up on occasion and frustration once more renewed.  
Then last year I determined that I would begin learning to read a pattern. I had my oldest daughter give me lessons on stitches and what symbols meant on her visits home. Just a few here and there for I have no short term memory and without that it is very hard to create long term memory. This meant some were for repeated amazement. I can be so easily entertained. And some were put to action repeatedly where they were able to imprint upon my long term memory.
I was able to do a few simple hats and scarves from more complex patterns. Ones my daughter would call very easy peazy, then came   spring and it's accompaning chores which monopolized my time.
Then I spied this book on sale.  How perfect could this be? Two socks knitted at once and you didn't have to know exactly how much yarn to start with. Something very important since I have no idea how much yardage is in my homespun yarns. How awesome, I could knit away and decide just how tall to make the socks depending on how fast the yarn disappeared.
It has been a perfect marriage. The cast on that my daughter says baffles many, I caught on fairly quickly. I only had to try it 8 times. Sh.... I'm a slow learner. Don't deflate my ego. I kept forgetting what I had just done until I formed a visual pattern because of repetition.

I know I need to graduate to other patterns in this book. I'm not really following any one afraid I'll be overwhelmed by too many instructions so I'm half making things up by using a smaller needle and different number of stitches, more of course. I'm doing plain stitching on top and knit two, purl two ribbing on the bottom but hey, I figure the next socks can be a bit more out there. Out there exploring what ssk is and psso. Yes,  I've read the translations but dude, what language they talking in?

Maybe I just need to read them every night for a week and let my mind sleep on it. Who knows, it might be a whole heaping smarter than me.

Then again, think there is a U-tube out there on stitch translations?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chevron Pattern Friendship Bracelet

 I have almost completed one Chevron friendship bracelet and it isn't hard to do, I've just discovered it just isn't my thing so there it sits. After tying a zillions knots I found myself wanting more. Not more of this project but something more than a small ornamental bracelet. It is probably the extreme practical side of me. I've little spare time and I'd rather spend it knitting, sewing, or spinning. Hats, socks, and sweaters suit my tastes better. But this is definitely economical. Just five colors of embroidery floss and you can make several bracelets. Now that is cheap, cheap.
Though making these bracelets weren't my thing. I can still see where learning these different knot patterns would be useful in a self-sufficient future. Not using embroidery floss of course but I can imagine making headstalls, belts, reins, bag straps and other things out of more substantial fibers.

And my brain has been wondering about learning a round braid to make candle wicking so this project isn't done, just done for now.The candlewicking I'm going to have to try. I've made candles from store wax, bee's wax, and even tallow but not the wicking. I think a nice round braid would do nicely. But then again this Chevron would work with a bigger candle or in lamps. Mm.... my brains a humming now but the doing will have to wait as the weather grows colder and I've hats, socks, and sweaters to make. 

You, not like me, may be a bit more fanciful and could see yourself making friendship bracelets as you rest in the evenings so this is what I did. I cut 60 inches of five colors and folded them in half, looping the top and clipping it under the clamp on a clip board. I then spread my colors out from darkest to lightest in the center. You will have a strand of the same color on the right and left. I held them down with masking tape at the bottom. The clip board worked but they have a really nice commercial set up similar to this but missing the masking tape and still it holds the thread apart. If I had enjoyed this, I would have purchased it. 

I watched a U-tube off the Internet to learn this Chevron pattern  and I'll have to find a few print off of this and other patters to tuck away for future projects such as belts and such.

But back to the project. String the outer thread on your left with a large darning needle. You can do it with your fingers but the needle speeds up the process. The needle strung with the outside thread color on the left goes under the second color on the left from the outside. The needle passing outward and you do this two times and pull the knot tightat the top most edge. Then you proceed to the next thread toward the inside and go until the center.

Then you do the same thing on the right, except you face the needle in the opposite direction. Always face your needle outward. Then when you reach the middle you tie the two outer threads together. They will we be the same shade. Remember, you have to go under The same thread twice.

 For now, braiding is going to sit while I work on the toe up method of making socks. Are you a friendship bracelet kind of gal or guy?