Monday, February 27, 2017

We Don’t Need No Steeking Badges

As I wrote last week, cutting your knitting can be a scary prospect.

It may be scary, but it's really the best and easiest way to get a stranded colorwork project from the needles to your wardrobe or Dolly's. Last week's blog post included the steps in making the steeks...and cutting them...but I only had one sleeve done when I wrote my blog post. Now it's done and ready to wear, as a cardigan or as a pullover.

Here's a photo to show how the raw edges of the steek can be finished off. Some people like to cross-stitch or overcast the steek to the inside of the sweater. I like to use blanket stitch. Ribbon can be used to cover up the steeks. Stretchy lace edging is another alternative, as you can see here around the neckline.

I made this for Dolly as a prototype for a project I'll make available for knitters on Ravelry, so they can practice steeking on something small but still useful. The dolls this will be made for are all in the 18" range, but, like people, they come with different figures. American Girl dolls and Madame Alexander dolls in this size range have cloth bodies and are somewhat plumper than the dolls with vinyl bodies, like Vroni, a Götz doll. Because I would like to make the pattern available to people with the slimmer dolls, I tried the finished sweater on Vroni to get an idea of the modifications needed. 

As expected, the neck is a bit large and the sleeve a bit too short for her. The chest is a little big, but doesn't look too bad. Small adjustments will give people another alternative if they have this kind of doll. (Vroni makes anything look good, though.)

I have a test knitter lined up, but before giving her the pattern, I wanted to knit another one, so I could see if I could follow my own directions. I picked different motifs and different colors. The second sweater is about at the stage the first one was last week. Here you can see the armhole steek on the left side of the photo, sticking out on that side. The armhole steek on the other side is tucked in.

I'm calling this colorway "Gabi's Emerald Isle," as St. Paddy's Day is coming up next month, and Gabi is the next one on the list for a nice sweater.

I had great hopes for making it to Vintage Stitchers on Thursday, but, wouldn't you know, that was the day The Great Utah Blizzard of 2017 started. Actually, it started the day before. Even if I could have escaped our driveway Thursday morning, I probably couldn't have made it back in without a lot of effort and help. Here's DH trying to get the snowblower to make it through two feet of snow, and there was still more coming. We ended up getting 30" in 48 hours.

Trying to get the Little Dude outside to play was an issue. We had about 10 minutes of sunshine Friday and Saturday between the snowfalls. Here's Dusty right after pulling on a branch covered with snow. He had a real surprise.

Rocky didn't want to stay out long, although he did run up and down the trail a few times during both outings, and seemed to enjoy the walk we took Thursday afternoon during a break when we had only a light snowfall. His vet just started him on thyroid medication, and he already seems to be perking up a bit. Lack of energy is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs.

In the meantime, I have plenty to keep me occupied in the balmy 62-degree warmth of my house. People on Ravelry have been asking me about colors of Palette to order to make the sweater, and I'm not even finished editing the pattern. I checked to see if all the colors for both sweaters were still available from Knit Picks, and they are, with the exception of the Turmeric, which is out-of-stock until March 6th, not too long off, but there's a close alternative. Watch this space for more on this design.

Well, maybe we do need steeking badges. This one was designed for me by Susan Claudino, NoKnitSherlock on Ravelry, back in the dark ages, when I lost my steeking virginity.

What's on my needles: The second sleeve on the “Gabi’s Emerald Isle” sweater for Gabi.

What's on my Featherweight:
 Steeks for the “Gabi’s Emerald Isle” sweater are finished. Waiting for the next one.

What's on my loom: I still haven’t started anything with the leftover warp.

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is looking at me reproachfully.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to the choruses we’ll be singing from The Messiah for the performance April 9th. Finished The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, a continuation of The Queen of the Tearling. I plan to read the next one in the series. It’s scarily prophetic. Now I’m listening to D. E. Stevenson’s Vittoria Cottage. On the Kindle app, I’m still reading Dying to Read, The Cate Kinkaid Files Book #1.

What's in my wine glass: Fish Eye Shiraz, 2015 vintage. 

What's my tip of the week: Little fingers can get caught in the floats inside the sleeves. A plastic sandwich bag (not with a zipper) over the hand will make dressing the doll—or a small child—easier.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Altered States

Last week I started working on a doll sweater pattern to help people learn how to make steeks using a small project.

Most of us are intimidated by steeks until we make something using this technique. Cutting up a project you've worked on for months can be pretty scary if you've never done it before. A sweater for a doll or teddy bear is the perfect starting point, and the dolls and teddy bears appreciate it, too.

The colors were inspired by my "So-not-my-palette Cardigan." I'm calling Dolly's sweater the "My-palette-after-all Sweater." "My-palette-after-all" because the color combination has grown on me, and "Sweater" because it can be a cardigan or a pullover. (Dolls are difficult to dress if the clothes are made the same as for humans, so a "pullover" normally buttons down the back.)

As you can see, the body is done with one sleeve attached. The bead in the middle of the buttonhole band is an example of what I'll be using for buttons. I started with Dolly because she is closer to the size of an American Girl Doll than the other two "girls." With luck, I'll have possible adjustments for slimmer dolls in the 18" range.

When you make a steeked sweater, you knit a tube in the round up to the armholes (with extra stitches in the center front for a steek if you're making a cardigan) and then add additional extra stitches for steeks where the armholes will be. Sometimes there is shaping for the armholes or front neck, depending on the type of sleeves and neck. In this case, I just worked the sweater up to the neck, which would be cut later. (Not as scary as it sounds, because I made two rows of machine stitching inside the seam allowance every place I was going to cut.)

I ended up having to make the section from the bottom of the armhole to the shoulder longer than I had planned, so when Dolly had her first fitting, (after the armhole steeks were cut) it looked more like a dress than a sweater. This also made it a little tight around the tummy and backside...not what I had planned. Dolly was nice about it and said it was OK, but I knew she wouldn't wear it like that.

Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve. I removed one round of stitches between the first gold band and the black/magenta band, taking out the top round of stitches in the gold band, keeping the black/magenta band intact. Then I picked up the bottom round of stitches from the black/magenta band, and worked new ribbing down in reverse.

I decided to cut the center front steek and work the neck and front bands before doing the sleeves, so it would be easier to try on as I went. I bound off the shoulders and sewed fronts to backs, then made machine stitches over the new stitches.

Next, I made two rows of machine-stitching down the front just inside the steek on each side, moving to one side the loose ends of yarn that came from where I changed colors as I knit the sweater. I had made knots every time I had two ends close enough together to tie together without making a pucker. Those knots came in handy when I was ready to cut. 

After the machine-stitching was done, I turned the sweater body inside-out.

I got out my nice, sharp scissors and snipped off the loose ends. (After you anchor each piece of yarn with machine stitching, it won't come loose.)

Next I turned the piece right-side out again, put a rotary-cutting ruler between the layers, so I wouldn't accidentally cut the floats on the other side. (Always use protection.) Then I could cut right up the middle. You can see the center of the steek, because there is a jog where the new round starts. (If you make a pullover instead of a cardigan, you will put the beginning-of-round under one arm, possibly using some fancy tricks to make it look jogless. In that case, you won't have any steek stitches, unless you choose to make a seam at the underarm instead. But we aren't doing that.)

I sewed a couple of rows of machine-stitching within the seam allowance for the neck, to give it a slightly scooped shape. (You can make this as big or as small as you like, or for a boat-neck sweater, you can just finish off the top of the body without cutting anything.) Then I trimmed the area outside the stitching. From the front, I picked up the stitches for the neck ribbing and worked it in K2, P2 ribbing. Next, I picked up the stitches down one side of the front and made a button band, repeating the same thing for the buttonhole band (with buttonholes, of course). You can refer to the first photo where Dolly is wearing the work-in-progress, to see what the neck and front ribbing looks like.

All was going well, so I picked up the stitches for the sleeves, working the motifs in reverse order from the order used for the body, this time from the top down, and making knots as I did for the body, and ending with a few rounds of ribbing.

This time, I was careful to tighten the knots securely before trimming, because there is nothing to cut away. Here's the inside of the first sleeve, looking at where the rounds join.

Of course, you can weave in all those ends on the inside of the sleeve, maybe not a bad idea, since whoever wears it will move around in it.

If you take a look again at the first photo (where Dolly is still posing so patiently), you can see the steek still at the top of her right arm, while the other arm is encased in a finished sleeve. She should be able to wear the sweater this week. I still have the second sleeve to do and some finishing inside, just to make things tidy. Virtually no ends to weave in, though. They're all cut away.

I actually started the sweater on the Saturday before I wrote my last blog post, but neglected to change the "What's on my needles" comment. Oops! This project is taking a little longer because of my errors in design. First I thought I was getting 9 sts/in when I really was getting 8, making it too big. I worked the extra stitches into the steek. I ended cutting all that off anyway, but that took time I won't need to spend with the next version of this sweater.

Meanwhile the "girls" had a great Valentine's day. They spent six hours watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. After a nutritious lunch of soup and sandwiches, they indulged in some popcorn and chocolates.

On Thursday, Common Threads met at Karan's. Margareth finished this quilt as we enjoyed each other's company, and Karan popped it into the washer. (We're a full-service stitching group.) It looked lovely when it came out of the dryer. Margareth machine-quilted it herself. She's turning into quite a quilter. Here it is before it went into the washer.

Karan has been working on some red work for a quilt and finished a purse that she has decided will be a project bag, as it's bigger than she had planned on.

We've been getting more snow. During a break in the weather, the pups had some fun playing in the backyard.

The crummy weather does lend itself to some other activities, though, like a cuddle on the couch.

What's on my needles: The second sleeve on the “My-palette-after-all” sweater for Dolly.

What's on my Featherweight: Steeks for the “My-palette-after-all” sweater.

What's on my loom: I haven’t started anything with the leftover warp from the Multi Scarf. I’m thinking about what to make.

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is still ready to go with more Full Circle spinning fiber. Maybe this week.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Listening to the choruses we’ll be singing from The Messiah for the performance April 9th. Finished Pets on the Couch (nonfiction) by DVM Nicholas Dodman. It was extremely interesting, entertaining and informative. I learned a lot. Now I’m listening to The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, a continuation of The Queen of the Tearling. On the Kindle app, I’m reading Dying to Read, The Cate Kinkaid Files Book #1.

What's in my wine glass: Black Box Mendoza Argentina Malbec 2015. All mine!

What's my tip of the week: If you’re knitting a solid-color sweater from the top down and want to add ribbing, you can just start the ribbing when you’re ready. However, if you change color for the ribbing, the color from the previous row/round will visit the front with the first row/round of purl bumps. I started K2, P2 ribbing on the black round on purpose, so you could see what happens. The arrow points to the black purl bumps showing in the ribbing.

You can avoid this problem by working 1 round of all knit in the ribbing color using the ribbing needles before you start the ribbing. It will leave you with a clean-looking boundary for the ribbing.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, February 13, 2017


I finally got to a Vintage Stitchers meeting!

You have already seen quilt tops and UFOs from Barbara's friend who passed away. The one above is a duplicate of one Barbara has already made (I think with different fabrics), so she was looking for a good home for it. It's machine-pieced and hand-appliquéd. The fabrics are mostly from the same Robyn Pandolph line I had used to make this quilt for DDIL1 a couple of years ago.

Since she's a quilter, and it coordinates with the other one, I thought DDIL1 might like to have it to quilt.

Barbara also has this one from her late friend. She will be taking it to be quilted. With luck (and fewer blizzards), you'll get to see it finished.

Speaking of Barbara's finished quilts, you may remember this one as a finished top.

Carol was putting the binding on this quilt, a BOM on the theme "Nursery Rhymes" made with '30s reproduction fabrics.

Marilyn had finished this machine-embroidered Christmas quilt.

Janet had helped a friend new to quilting make this T-shirt quilt. This is the friend's second quilt. (You can only see part of it, but there is a very large pope in the upper left-hand corner, doing a thumbs up.)

Barbara had just picked up this cross-stitch of hers from the framer. It will go on the wall to represent summer.

After Vintage Stitchers, I stopped by Davidene's to drop off my Kaleidoscope quilt for quilting and select some backing for it.

This is the top I made using the Kaleidoscope line from Connecting Threads. It was inspired by the line of fabrics on the back of the catalog. It has been finished for a long time, but I haven't had the money to get it quilted.

Speaking of quilting, I made some progress on my "Sistine Chapel" quilt. The Delectable Mountain blocks alone one side are half done.

My Impari Shawlette is done. I wore it on Sunday with my yellow turtleneck and navy cardigan and slacks.

We finally had a break in the weather, so I got outdoors to get a photo of Vroni in her new sweater and hat in real snow. She had the hat on, but the girls were throwing snowballs, and she got hit in the kitty ear. (There was a lot of giggling.)

I decided to make a steeked Fair Isle sweater for one of the dolls using the leftovers from my "So-not-my-palette Cardigan." I'm hoping it will fit Dolly. We'll see. I actually have three in my head, with different structure and different colors. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Valentine's Day is almost upon us, so I snapped this photo of the "girls" sharing their Valentine chocolates with Vroni. (They've been telling her that chocolates aren't fattening if they are given to you by someone who loves you.)

I'm not sure she's buying it.

What's on my needles: Still the Impari Shawlette. The March of the Fibres is still waiting in the wings. Still hand-quilting my “Sistine Chapel,” working on the first border.

What's on my Featherweight: Still waiting for a new assignment.

What's on my loom: Still the leftover warp from the Multi Scarf. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet..

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is set up again with more Full Circle spinning fiber, but feeling lonely.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: Finished Footsteps in the Dark, a mystery by Georgette Heyer. Then I listened to The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz. I had listed to it on CD from the library years ago, but I found it refreshingly pertinent to today’s world, even though it was set in the ‘90s. Now I’m listening to Pets on the Couch (nonfiction) by DVM Nicholas Dodman. He’s a behaviorist, and much of what he has learned over the years has human applications. On the Kindle app, I gave up on The Housewife Assassin’s Deadly Dossier by Josie Brown. I had a hard time finding the plot in among all the sex. I haven’t really decided what to read next.

What's in my wine glass: Glen Ellen Reserve California Merlot, 2014 vintage. Very nice.

What's my tip of the week: When picking out quilt backing for a quilt that has lots of plain white or other very light background, be sure your backing won’t “visit” the front when you’re done. A fabric that’s printed on the right side but almost white on the wrong side will work well, or another light color. Place the backing wrong-side-up on a table or counter, and put your quilt top over it in a single layer. If you can’t see the backing with no batting in it, you won’t see it after it’s quilted. If you can see it, try with a bit of batting between the layers.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Welcoming Vroni.

This is Vroni

More about Vroni later. The big project this week was the scarf that has been on my loom for nearly two years. The warp has been on the loom much longer. I used it to make a beige waffle-weave scarf for DS2, which I gave to him Christmas 2014. I changed the tie-up to weave a twill, then the loom was damaged. (I won't go into how that happened, but it took nearly 18 months to get it fixed.) If you've been reading my blog the last few weeks, you've seen renewed progress on it. Now it's done and ready to send to DD.

The edges aren't exactly straight. It was a little difficult with the odds and ends of yarn I was using, some of it hand-spun, but also I have been out of practice. I really need a temple (not a place to go to pray for more skill, but a device to keep the edges even).

I made some progress on the Impari Shawlette. It's a good project to take if you go out to eat or to a meeting. Or watching football, perhaps (more about that later). I would have finished more of it, and more of my "Sistine Chapel" quilt, except that I had a blessed event...of sorts.

As you may remember, Hannah went to live with Daphne, Daphne Jr. and the other Wisconsin dolls. Hannah is a Götz doll with a vinyl body, which is slimmer than the cloth-bodied Madame Alexander play dolls and American Girl dolls. She is even slimmer than the Tonner play dolls, which also have a vinyl body rather than cloth. Since Dolly (Madame Alexander) and Gabi (Tonner) are too plus-size to make good models for my sewing and knitting for Hannah, I was without a model in the correct size after Hannah's departure. So...I needed another Götz doll. My plan was to purchase a Vroni after Christmas, thinking the prices would go down. They didn't. They went up, and as you can see from the link, they are out-of-stock. Every place I had located one in the past was sold out. I was resigned to waiting, months perhaps.

Enter my hero, a doll owner in the Ravelry Götz Doll Lovers group, who had decided to clear out all but one of his dolls to make room for more yarn stash. He offered seven of his dolls for good prices, some of them in the lovely smocked dresses he had made for them. When I saw Vroni was among them, I snapped her up, because I knew that the seller kept his dolls in immaculate condition.

Vroni started her journey to me on Tuesday and arrived in the middle of a blizzard on Thursday. She hadn't seen snow for a long time, and never so much at once.

She made friends right away with Dolly and Gabi, who took this selfie of the three of them together.

Vroni arrived with only the lovely dress, a full slip and panties. After just making sweaters and hats for Gabi and Dolly to keep myself from feeling cold whenever I looked at them, I found myself with another almost skimpily clad doll standing around my fiber studio. Of course I needed to make her a sweater and hat as well. People had been talking about the free Kitty Cat sweater and hat pattern available from My Doll Best Friend. It looked like a fun and fairly quick knit, so I downloaded the pattern and picked a color to go with the smocking design, because of Vroni's limited wardrobe.

I knew I could use Palette (fingering weight) held double to get the thickness I needed for the pattern, and I had Semolina in my stash, so I CO. I found the denser knitting yielded by the 3.00mm needles hard to work on, but I was able to get gauge, and the sweater was soon done.

The sweater makes a good top to go with the jeggings I ordered for her back before Christmas. (You may remember that I ordered four pairs, two for Gabi and Dolly, another pair for Hannah, and this one.)

I wanted to save her gingham ribbons to go with her dress, so I got out some yellow ribbon and threaded it through her braids using a yarn needle.

Then I started on the hat. The pattern calls for larger needles for the hat, so it went quickly and easily.

The neckline is a little large for warmth, so she needs a scarf before she can go outdoors. I can make one easily from fleece, using the pattern I've used before for warm hats and scarves.

Monday we went snowshoeing, because the weather was nice for a couple of days. 

Dusty must have covered three times the distance the rest of us did.

No Worries is open again in its new location. DH and I went there on Tuesday for breakfast and then took the pups for a walk along the bicycle trail at nearby Gorgoza Park.

One nice thing about Dusty is he brings the ball back. Rocky just runs to the ball and points at it, or picks it up and "throws" it at Dusty.

I met Joanie at No Worries on Thursday. With all the snow and other stuff going on, Common Threads couldn't get a host. Ana brought her. It was fun to see her again, and we got some knitting done. The owner/manager is a friend of hers, and she knows all the wait staff. This was her first meal at the new location.

We've had more snow than I can remember ever in the mountains of Utah. Excess snow, followed by slight melting--not enough to get the snow to slide off the roof--worked together to create a dangerous situation for our house. We started getting cracks in the walls. DH spent several hours on each of three days up on the roof with rappelling gear to dig up and remove snow. The last day he worked up there was Sunday, coming in just in time to watch the Super Bowl game. That's when he discovered that the TV, which had worked earlier in the day, no longer had reception. Something must have happened to it while he was throwing snow and ice off the roof. We ended up having to watch the game on my iPad. We used the JBL Clip speaker for better sound. Whew!

What's on my needles: Still the Impari Shawlette. The March of the Fibres is still waiting in the wings. Still hand-quilting my “Sistine Chapel,” working on the first border.

What's on my Featherweight:
 Still waiting for a new assignment.

What's on my loom: The leftover warp from the Multi Scarf. I don’t know how much I have, so I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet..

What's on my wheel: Stanzi is still set up with Full Circle spinning fiber but no progress again this week.

What's on my iPad/iPhone: (Besides the Super Bowl game.) Finished The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini. It was a good story. Then I listened to Frey by Melissa Wright. There was more violence for the amount of plot than I usually like, but the story was OK. Now I’m listening to Footsteps in the Dark, a mystery by Georgette Heyer. I’ve listened to it before, but it has been a long time. On the Kindle app, I finished Anna and Her Daughters by D. E. Stevenson. Now I’m reading The Housewife Assassin’s Deadly Dossier by Josie Brown. Not really into it yet.

What's in my wine glass: Crane Lake Malbec, again. One of our favorites.

What's my tip of the week: Natural peanut butter will not need stirring before using if you put it in the refrigerator within a few hours of grinding. If you buy the kind in the jar, and the oil has already risen to the top, you can turn the jar upside down for a few hours (or days), and sometimes the oil will go back into the ground peanuts in its attempt to return to the top, in this case the bottom of the jar. If it does that, put it into the refrigerator before the oil starts collecting at the bottom of the jar.

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.