In Disgrace

You know that sweet Bessie Pease Gutman picture of the little girl standing in the corner? She looks too angelic to have ever done anything wrong, but there she is, proving that it’s possible to look good and still be up to mischief. Obviously, my “Kathy’s Socks” are cut of the same cloth, as it were.

Perhaps you remember my agony a few weeks back when I found that the first sock didn’t fit over my instep, and I ended up frogging 240 lovely little cables. Well, they are all back in place, heel is turned, (after I finally figured out that there was an error in the pattern, one row having been omitted), and it fit, so I headed down the foot, stopping at one point to measure what I thought the pattern wanted me to know. I reached the place where my measurement indicated that the toe should start, switched from cables to stockinette, added a lifeline for good measure, and started my toe decreases. Halfway through shaping the toe, I just started getting an odd feeling that things weren’t right, so I tried it on – my left foot instead of my right foot…

Two big problems came to my attention immediately. One would have something to do with two very memorable moments of interruption while knitting:

Holey socky

Considering how fanatical I was about watching for yarnovers between needles, I was in total shock to see these two “interesting” design elements, which had been on the back side of my right foot, and escaped notice when I tried it on several times earlier. But thinking back and looking at where they are, I know how it happened both times. I’m more than a little unhappy about ripping out nearly the entire foot, and I’ve had enough experience ripping these tight cables to know that getting everything back on the needles isn’t going to be fun. I have also realized rather ruefully that by the time I get my first sock finished, I will have already knitted nearly two whole socks. I know… I could leave the holes. Problem is that they would drive me crazy, and I could never enjoy wearing the socks. Why do something this nicely detailed then leave two glaring holes?

Of course, I have to rip out some anyway…


Kathy’s too long

It would seem that having a range instead of a specific number for toe length isn’t necessarily a good idea for a first time sock knitter, knitting a pair of socks that feel as if they are cursed. They are plenty long to be grafted and there are still 8 rows to go. I could live with that, as it feels like they would form around my toes nicely even at this width. However, with the stockinette toe starting halfway up my big toenail, it looks more like I got tired of making cables or something – totally silly.

Obviously, these socks have it in for me. I love them – so long as I’m not knitting them at the moment. I do want to finish them. However, I’ve been working on one sock for 6 weeks now. This is feeling not only excessive, but very trying. Everyone talks about how wonderful socks are because they are so quick to knit. Everyone hasn’t made this sock apparently. I’m officially putting these in time out, and I’m starting a toe up pair with different yarn (much lighter color, so easier to work) and a totally different pattern (Coriolis), and they are custom designed with my personal measurements, thanks to Cat Bordhi.

Of course, even that pattern doesn’t work if I swatch at a totally different gauge than I actually knit… This would be my second start… sigh…

Coriolis started over

But isn’t that invisible cast on toe great?!

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s All About the Resurrection

Sunday evening I was casting about for something special to do. This was my first child-free Easter in a quarter century, and it was just feeling a little bit odd, despite a lovely church service that morning. Wanting to do something that would mark the day, I was looking for an activity that was different from what I’ve been doing lately – fresh and spring-like – but that also wouldn’t involve me for the next three weeks. I have enough projects going as it is. Then it came to me – Easter is all about the Resurrection! As soon as that popped into my mind, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – my own very humble tribute in honor of the event. I would bring my sweet little Wandie (pronounced Vahn-dee) Selene back to life.

Wandie arrived here looking like this.

Wandie head

She is an antique, German bisque head of fairly modest quality – nice, smooth bisque, but certainly not a stellar, top of the line paint job. There are rubs on her cheeks, and her mouth is painted somewhat lopsided. Even worse is that the lip paint wasn’t removed from her teeth before they were fired in place. Somewhere along the line, Wandie lost her body and her eyes. Sometimes this happens by natural causes, and sometimes it’s because there are people who have no problem cannibalizing lower end dolls. In Wandie’s case, her original German, blown glass, sleep eyes were replaced with set acrylic eyes. I might do surgery sometime in the future, but that wouldn’t have been the one day project I was hoping to do.

Wandie Markings

Wandie is actually a bit of a mystery doll. Because the logo incised on her head consists of two letters intertwined, it is difficult to know for sure what company produced her, and time hasn’t yet yielded enough records to identify with certainty which of two possible companies produced her – Strobel & Wilken or Walther & Sohn. Although Strobel & Wilken was an American company, they commissioned the dolls that were sold under their name, so that wouldn’t preclude them based on the German origin of this little girl.

Normally, I’m not strongly in favor of putting antique heads on modern reproduction doll bodies. However, being in favor of something and actually doing it can be two different things. The first problem is that unless one can have a substantial inventory of antique bodies and heads – or a good bit of dumb luck – it’s actually quite a challenge to get a legitimately good match between bodies and heads. There are many factors to take into consideration:

  • Head circumference
  • Height of head (not counting neck)
  • Size of neck
  • Age of child represented by the head (which affects the ratio of head to over all height

The second problem is that many of the lower end (think Dollar Store) dolls were produced with extremely fragile, chintzy bodies made of poor quality wood pulp or even hollow cardboard, stapled into a torso shape. These bodies haven’t stood the test of time. The bodies that have held up through the years are those of nicer quality, which aren’t really appropriate for the lesser quality heads. However, the even bigger problem in this regard is that the nicer bodies are appropriate for the better heads. Someone with a doll that might book at $4000 complete will pay more for that body than someone who wants to put together a doll that would only book at $200 – and it’s not unusual to see a good body sell for more than an entire low end, mint condition doll could be purchased. This creates a lot of orphaned heads with the most common and humble markings – both because ruined bodies are difficult to replace, and because some people who are more interested in money than historic value actually strip down the more common dolls and part them out like a wrecked car.

So, enter Wandie – a not very valuable head, but a very sweet countenance, and conveniently enough, the exactly correct size to mount on the common, popular, and affordable JN Bleuette body. Personal opinion, but I think it is better to get her up on her feet than to make her wait in a box for decades hoping for an antique body, so..

Wandie gets body

Head attachment surgery is quite easy, and if you would like to know how to perform it, click here to see the tips page. Wandie was up and moving around in minutes with no ill effects, and looking for a pate to cover the hole in the top of her head. (The hole facilitates setting the eyes.)

Wandie pate

The proper pate for an antique German doll, and for many of the French dolls, too, is made of a very stiff cardboard, which happily is now readily available and in quite a range of sizes. A bit of water soluble (very important!) glue around the edge will hold it in place, but allow for easy removal at a later date, should it become necessary to repair the eyes or do other work. I am very happy with Tacky Glue for this purpose. I didn’t want Wandie to be bored while she sat quietly waiting for the glue to dry, so gave her some books to read while I sat and knitted for an hour or so.

Wandie reading

The next part was lots of fun, as she tried on nearly every wig I have here in her size, trying to decide what was “her style.”

Wandie in Diana by Dollsparts Wandie in Helene by Monique
Wandie in Suzette Wandie in Kimberly Wandie in Justine

Isn’t it amazing to see how different she looks with the various wigs? (Don’t forget that double clicking an image will make it large enough to actually see!) It can sometimes be difficult to tell which is best, as wigs tend to arrive needing a lot of fitzing, and that can only be accomplished safely once the recipient is chosen. Most wigs today have a range of an inch difference in circumference which they will fit, and to do trimming and styling on a wig that is headed for a 6″ head can spoil it for a 7″ head if it is eventually deemed inappropriate.

Wandie finished

(Dress and dolly by Margikins, socks by 4needles4u)

We finally chose the Diana wig, with a bit of trepidation on my part, as it obviously needed a lot of work, and I’m very hair impaired. First step was to practice placing the wig on her head several times, marking the perfect location with light pencil marks. Then a very thin coating of Tacky Glue was applied just to the pate. Usually it is not necessary to glue the wig to the bisque, and it’s better to leave it free if possible in case removal is necessary at a later time.

The bangs were really bad, and once I wet them to straighten them out, they chose to stick straight out from her head! I tried wetting her wig and holding it down with a hairnet while it dried, but that produced a look that was a little too flat. A little work with a curling iron (Anyone know where I could find a 1/4″ curling iron?) improved things somewhat, but my problems managing hair showed up in leaving a slightly lopsided appearance that I can’t seem to figure out how to even up. I’m going to let it rest for a bit, as the weather is bound to affect the human hair from which it was made, but I will probably continue fiddling with it as time goes by. However, having picked out a pretty frock and a new vintage velvet hair bow, Wandie now feels ready to meet the world – no longer an old head stuffed away in a box, but a doll resurrected into a new life – and for me, a unique and continuing reminder of that first Easter.

Wandie Selene Portrait
Wandie Selene

Under the Wire – Hurrah!

I only recently discovered that there was a knitting guild up in Dayton, just a little over an hour away, and I joined almost instantly. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Charlene Schurch was coming to do a workshop in March, but it was full and waitlisted. Considering that one of my primary goals for the year is to conquer sock knitting, I really wanted to attend! All I could do was add my name to the list and hope – and that turned out to be enough. :o)

I got a phone call the middle of last week saying that I was now officially on the class list – and was given a list of supplies to bring. I couldn’t believe I was unable to come up with a skein of worsted weight yarn without making a trip to Wal-Mart, but since I had to go see the dentist anyway, I didn’t have to make a special trip out at least. The trip that was not so nice was the drive to Dayton on Saturday morning in pea soup fog all the way.

I definitely recommend Charlene’s workshops if you have the opportunity to attend. She is a gentle and pleasant teacher who isn’t of the “one right way” school. She has the aura of a good doctor – you know, the sort that makes you feel as if you are his only patient and he has all the time in the world to tend for you. And I think it might be tough to go to one of her workshops for the first time and not learn at least one thing new. I also enjoyed the fact that I was suddenly facing some techniques I’d been putting off trying, and had no excuse not to attempt, especially with expert help at hand to bail me out, and a project that wasn’t something for real.

What we made in class is a pair of sample socks – and I’m using the term “pair” rather loosely here. For that matter, “socks” is somewhat loose, too! As you might imagine, one sock was toe up and the other was top down. The focus was not on the areas of the ankle and foot that are worked straight, so most of us birthed somewhat odd looking bits of knitting as we worked cast ons, heels, and toes one right after another.

Charlene Schurch Workshop Socks

On the top down sock, we could choose to either rib the top or make a picot edge. Since I have no problem with ribbing and flexible cast ons, I opted for the picot, which I’d never tried. I got off to a rough start, having to frog 2-3 times before I got going right, and it has nothing to do with the difficulty of a picot edge and everything to do with trying to knit when I’m usually asleep, right after driving for 90 minutes in heavy fog. Once I got going, I did fine, and I didn’t have any trouble again except when I was interrupted halfway through my Kitchener stitch and laid it down… sigh… We did heel flaps on the top down and short row heels on the toe up socks, experienced Judy Becker’s Magic Cast On for the toe ups, and played with not one, but four flexible bind offs when we reached the top. I love the picot bind off, and I’m eager to try it on a ribbed edge. I didn’t have time to work any ribbing on my practice sock, so the edge rolls, which could be a great design element on the right item. Charlene says it doesn’t roll on ribbing, so I know it’s going to find its way to the top of a pair of socks sooner than later. If you look at the smaller of the two socks, it has all four options, and the picot is the one that shows on the part of the edge toward the toe. If you would like to try knitting it yourself, click here: Picot Bind Off.

As an added bonus, Charlene stayed in town for Monday’s guild meeting, and presented a lecture on the history of socks. If she’d had that info in printed form, I’d have purchased it on the spot! Very interesting, in my opinion, and I wish I had a way to reference it in the future without digging through the list of sources she rattled off as providing her information.

Charlene has authored a number of very popular books. Her two sock books are designed to enable a knitter, so instead of just having patterns for specific socks in certain sizes, she includes techniques and charts and oodles of pattern stitches, and all the help you need to build your own perfect socks. If you are the sort of person who would rather learn how to fish instead of being handed a fish, check out Sensational Knitted Socks and More Sensational Knitted Socks.

If it wasn’t already a sock heaven sort of weekend, we also got to paw through a delicious mountain of her sample socks, knit for her books… Yum!

Hello, Dolly!

As promised, I’m taking a few minutes out today to share photos of my newest doll. She’s a lovely Kestner china doll from the 1860’s. (Chinas are dated by hairstyles, which were kept quite fashionable and changed substantially by decades.) She’s one of two big girls I have, measuring 26″ tall, though I doubt this is an original body. Her head is nice, however, and that’s what I was seeking. My other large china is an ABG (Alt, Beck, & Gottschalck), and she’s lovely and delicate, despite the breaks in her head. The differences in the girls are striking, and I love having the two of them to compare. It wasn’t so many years ago that I remember thinking if you’d seen one china doll, you’d seen them all, but I’ve definitely changed my tune as I’ve studied these ladies more closely. They differ as much in apparent age and personality as any of my other dolls, and much more than some.
Kestner China Full Kestner China Portrait
New Kestner Girl
ABG China Portrait
My ABG Girl – also 1860’s
I thought perhaps it would be useful to some if I posted close-ups of the two faces so you could see the painting details that differentiate these two companies so clearly. As always, clicking the thumbnail will provide a larger view.
ABG china close up Kestner china close up
ABG Kestner
The clearest differences are (please distinguish between flash reflection and real highlights!):
  • Eye highlight – ABG, large and clear white, in iris; Kestner, smaller, bluish white, at edge of pupil.
  • Lash line – ABG, broad and black; Kestner, narrow and brown
  • Compare the outline of the iris and shading of same
  • Nostrils – ABG, solid dots; Kestner, delicate circles
  • Mouth – ABG, two toned, closed, with shaped partition line between lips; Kestner, single color, with lips parted by a white space and turned up at the corners

There are a number of other companies which produced china dolls, but I don’t have examples this large from those firms. I highly recommend the book Identifying German Chinas 1840’s – 1930’s by Mary Gorham Krombholz to anyone who is interested in learning more about these fascinating dolls. The book shares much in the way of history and provides hundreds of large, clear photos that make it easy to pinpoint era and manufacturer for most any china head doll you would find.

Knit and Not

I’ve realized this week that the more I have to blog about, the less time I have to blog. This translates into “I’ve had quite the week!”

It started out with the blizzard last weekend – a term not loosely employed. Here we are, comfortably into March, and for the first time in the 25 years we’ve lived here, the National Weather Service issued a legitimate blizzard warning for our county. We didn’t get as much snow as the next real town to the north of us, but it was enough – with the obligatory wind and biting cold. We’ve not had much of a real winter here, but now that it’s in its death throes, it apparently has decided to make a bit of a fuss. One good thing is that it was so bitterly cold that the flakes were quite small and dry. They didn’t hang in the branches and prune the trees for us, but they did make some lovely drifts.

Blizzard down the street Snow in the bushes

(Remember, all pix enlarge with a click.)

Once the worst of things had settled, Hitty Darlene was eager to go exploring the marshmallow fluff world outdoors, and she had a lovely time of it.

Hitty D and snowbank Hitty D’s snowman

Other excitement has been as diverse as a trip to the dentist, getting into a great workshop for which I’d been waitlisted (and needing to obtain supplies post haste), and being invited by a friend to go on a special cruise (complete with research and decision making, and registering before the Saturday cut off), which will fill one of my 100 Things to Do Before I Die dreams. I’m absolutely convinced that 2008 is not going to be a boring year, and to this point in time, I’ve only had maybe one or two days that could even begin to wear that description.

On the knitting front, progress continues everywhere and then some, as I flit amongst four very active projects, depending on the amount of time available and my ability to concentrate. I have started to work the lace on the next to last scallop on my capelet, then it’s the rush up the side and across the top, then done. Goal was to have it ready to take to Monday night’s meeting, but I’m questioning the likelihood at this point. It’s addictive, as is Outlander, which is my current audiobook, reserved only to be read while knitting, but I have to do other things occassionally, too, like my commission project, which had to be started over, as I wasn’t at all happy with it the first time.

My first sock is inching steadily down the sole to the toe, but I only put four rows a day on that, so it’s slow going. At least it fits this time. This photo was taken about 3 inches ago. I love looking at the way the stitches shape the heel and gusset. It almost looks like magic.

Sock with finished gusset

And my pre-born projects finally got the best of me. I have several chomping eagerly at the bit, but had been able to resist the next shawl and the socks, due to having one of each on the needles. Next sock projects are probably Cat Bordhi’s Coreolis and Red Bird’s February Sock of the Month (in that order, as I’ve seen plenty of cables to last me for a while). It turns out that both are in yarn that is primarily blue – just like my first sock. Hmmm… How did I do that, I wonder? At least the Knot Garden by Red Bird Knits was accidental. That’s the yarn that came with it, and I didn’t know what I’d be getting until I opened the package – honest!

Master Coreolis prebirth Red Bird March 2008 SOTM

But this other project is a little different, combining inspiration from Vicki Square’s Folk Bags and a pattern from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting, to hopefully successfully fill a need for a special container to hold the things I need at hand when I’m hanging out on the sofa. Here is the start of it – or rather, the second start of it. I’m beginning to get the hang of working with one color in each hand, and it’s almost as addictive as the lacework, but I’m making every effort to keep it a very low priority project until I’m done with my commission work. Since the work is done with strands of worsted weight (Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes), it goes along very quickly when I do have a few minutes to invest. Looking at the photo, the colors don’t appear to blend as well as they do in person, so we’ll have to see what happens as I work the rest of them into the project.

FairIsle basket birth

Enough for now… I’ll save the new girl for sometime this weekend…





Neglected Toys

The past two years have been extremely busy, leaving me with little time to play. For that matter, there is plenty of work that hasn’t happened either… but that’s not what I’m thinking about at the moment.

Somewhere in the midst of the hectic days, I was having my car maintenance done in my home town. To bide my time, I wandered to the local thrift shop, where I found something that was a curious treasure – a sock knitting machine.

Harmony Auto-Knitter

(Click pix to enlarge)

Although I was quick to recognize the contraption, I knew absolutely nothing about it. However, it was too tempting not to adopt, so I paid the price and wedged its cast iron body, firmly attached to the splayed legs of its tripod, into my borrowed car and drove off smiling. And that’s as far as the romance went. Once it arrived home, I stuck it in a somewhat out of the way corner, complete with the makeshift cover, and I didn’t touch it again for what must be close to two years.

I knew a bit of its pedigree and had high hopes for it. Although there was no manual, it belonged to a lady I’d known. She sold knitting machines and the necessary yarn, I’d frequented her in-home shop, which was just around the corner from our newlywed home over a quarter of a century earlier. The CSM (circular sock machine) looked well tended, but it was also jammed, most likely by curious shoppers who couldn’t resist the turn of a crank. Let’s face it – who could walk past this without wanting to see what happens?

Close up of machine

Recently, a post in one of my Yahoo groups, combined with my awakened passion for knitting, brought my neglected toy to mind, and I started doing a little bit of exploration, aided by two very nice ladies who don’t know me from Adam, but were brought to me by the ever wondrous magic of the internet. Instead of knowing nothing, I can safely say I only know next to nothing now – great step upward! What I have is a Harmony Auto-Knitter, a well regarded 1982 green model. It has a ribber, and is equipped with a 60 needle cylinder. And it came with a fascinating, but somewhat baffling assortment of tools.

Tool kit

I have delicately worked to remove the yarn jam, and the crank turns quite nicely. I still believe the machine has been well cared for, but I was quite shocked to see the amount of dust revealed by the larger than life photos. (Does this mean I need new glasses?) I must confess, I really enjoyed taking pictures of it tonight. I don’t often find myself with a mechanical subject, and it was a great change of pace. Now, for my next trick, I’m going to see if I can make a slide show of the photos…

Okay, now that was definitely too much fun! On a more serious note, I’m putting these photos into my Flickr album, too. Keeping in mind that I know very little about what I have, I would truly appreciate it if people in the know would leave me some helpful comments and advice either here or there. The photos are all numbered, and quite frankly, I have no idea what most of the things are at this point! One thing that doesn’t show well is the metal piece that is shaped rather like a jet plane and stuck on the vertical pole. I understand it has something to do with carrying the yarn, but right now I’m more interested in getting it under control. As soon as I start to turn the crank, it shimmies down, much like the cage on a Mousetrap game, and impedes any further movement. Sometimes the carriage tries to snatch up a bit of the little wire protruding from this device. I’m wondering why the counter isn’t registering passes, curious about the lucite horse’s head in the one photo, and puzzled as to why there is a swivel bar that can be moved into a position that prevents cranking entirely. What might I be missing in regard to parts and tools? And what do I do with the ones I own? I know some of these questions will most likely be answered when I sit and study the online copy of the antique Auto-Knitter manual, but there is also a lot to be said for personal advice – and I’m surely open to hearing some!

Published in: on March 7, 2008 at 9:41 am  Comments (2)  
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Grandma Framed!

An ongoing battle at my house is dealing with clutter. My greatest fantasy in life is to not only win the battle, but the entire war. I have a zillion reasons to want this, but perhaps the biggest of all is that it’s hanging around my neck like a ball and chain, and is very much in the way of my creativity.

I’ve been working on this fairly seriously since my younger daughter got married and moved out, though it’s been mostly isolated skirmishes – isolated because I’ve traveled so much over the past two years. Right now, the battle is back on. I’ve been home long enough to have my focus brought back to reality, and the longing has become strong enough to propel me back into serious action. Having come to the conclusion that there is no one place that I can conquer at this point, I’m practicing some guerrilla type tactics, mostly ambushes and sniping. After a week or so of this, I’m seeing some happy progress, especially in my sewing room, which is currently drawing me for longer stints than most of the other spaces. I’ve taken “before” pix, but don’t have the nerve to post them. It’s obviously a sewing room in name only, and until some other areas give up ground, the best I can do there is to drive back the enemy a bit, but not secure the territory.

Anyway, the point of this is that there are lots of interesting little side trips along the road, and I needed to take one of them this week. It comes with a bit of a story I’d like to share. Some time ago, my mother offered me a portrait of my grandmother, done when she was in her teens. With my love of old pictures and family history, there was no way I was turning down that gift, but it came with a bit of a challenge. The piece was large, unframed, and cathedral shaped – and I’m me, through and through. I ignored all suggestions to get it trimmed to fit into a reproduction frame, and fantasized about finding the perfect antique version. Problem is, I just didn’t have time to search for the illusive perfect fit. I suggested to my sister that if she ever happened to see something that looked promising, please let me know. This led to a sporadic parade of possibilities that showed up on ebay, but none were even close to the right dimensions. But shortly before Christmas, she became my hero when she sent me an auction for what was indisputably the prettiest cathedral frame I’d seen. There were no measurements in the listing, but I had this odd little sense of excitement course through my body, telling me this was the one. I dutifully wrote to the seller, then waited impatiently for measurements. They were dead on – and my heart did a flipflop. Even better, they lived only 90 minutes from here and were willing for an in person pick up, thus avoiding shipping and the fear of breakage. Was it even remotely possible I could win this beauty? It was an exceedingly long week to wait for it to close, and I checked that auction multiple times each day. I held the only bid for the entire time, but I know ebay well enough not to trust that, so I paced mentally the entire time, the amount of my planned snipe increasing almost hourly during the last day. When I finally typed in the number, I was praying desperately that it wouldn’t come anywhere near the ghastly figure I was putting in that box. I wasn’t going to be home to see the end, so I was on pins and needles. Long story short, I amazingly had only one competitor – who obviously didn’t want that frame nearly so much as I did, and I got it for less than $80. My daughter and son-in-law picked it up on their way home from PA for the family Christmas party – then it sat. I was in a whirlwind getting ready for my trip to Honduras, and there wasn’t time for something so trivial. To protect the frame, it was placed behind one of the few doors in the house – in my sewing room.

Back full circle to de-cluttering. :o) This past week, the first thing I found in the sewing room (because it was one of the last to go in?) was that frame – and now I had the time and excuse to do something about it. I took it apart and cleaned everything, wiped Grandma’s face clean from the accumulation of dust and who knows what else, and put her safely behind glass. As I was mounting the picture, I saw something I’ve never seen before. Along the bottom edge of the glass, hidden by the edge of the frame, there is a patent date of 1924. My grandmother would have been in her teens that year, and I have to think would have wanted the newest, most fashionable frame available. Even better, when I hung the finished project on the wall of my entryway, I realized that the colors of the frame complimented those added to her dress. In short, I could pretty easily be convinced that this frame had only temporarily been separated from the picture. I’m content – and I’m sure Grandma would be smiling.

Grandma Framed

(Please pardon the odd angle and the appearance of Grandma having a brilliant thought. Bubble glass is the pits to photograph!)

Published in: on March 3, 2008 at 8:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cherry Cute

I’ve gone on here alarming long without mention of the little people who live here. I thought I’d remedy the situation by sharing a photo shoot I had last week with the newest kid on the block. This is Tamsin, who, until Kish released the 2008 dolls, was the last Riley’s World doll I needed to gather into my fold in order to have one of each mold (not counting the lovely Haleena and other special issues of her sort). The outfit was sold for Riley, but it arrived the day before Tamsin got here, and since her body is essentially the same as Riley’s, and she was slightly indecent, it just sort of happened that they ended up together – and to good effect, in my opinion. Please pardon the stray hairs on her forehead. She was far too wiggly that day for me to consider trimming them.

Tamsin Cherries 4 Tamsin Cherries 1 Tamsin Cherries 2 

Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 6:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stage Fright

I finally did it. Silly as it sounds, once I finished the lace shawl I made as a Christmas gift for a special friend, I had a terrible time putting it into the mail. There was a combination fear that it would get lost, waffling about how much insurance to buy, and then the big thing – being terrified that after 75 or more hours of work, she wouldn’t like it.

I solved part of the problem – the question of insurance – by talking to several experienced knitters at various times, and without hinting at what others had said. I was truly amazed that every one of them gave me the same suggestion. It was a little bit hard to ignore – and a little hard to swallow. I couldn’t believe that my first lace project was worth that sort of money!

Since I wasn’t blogging when it was in progress, the quick capsule summary is that I fell in love with a project and bought an entire book so I could make it “someday.” I was led to believe this would be challenging, so I should do something simpler first. I chose a lace shawl, with the intention of making a Christmas gift of it. In a perfect world with no frogging and no learning curve, I could have had it done in 60 hours. Of course, having never done lace before, not only did I have plenty of frogging and a steep learning curve, I also grossly underestimated the time commitment. I’ve learned a lot – starting with just how long it takes to knit 750 yards of very fine merino yarn into a piece of 21″x 72″ holey fabric.

First Lace Project First Lace Project Close Up

The pattern is from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby, and it’s a cleaned up design from Weldon’s, published in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign. I wish I’d had a really super way to take photos, but the weather wasn’t nice enough to take any pretty outdoor pictures, so I was stuck with doing it in the house. What can’t be seen in the photos is the subtlety of the colors in the yarn. It’s called “Oregon Coast” and it carries the pinks, peaches, blues, and lavenders of seashells against a sandy background.

So what I guess I didn’t say is that it went into the mail on Monday, insured for a lot of money, and arrived safely on Wednesday. Judging by the email I received shortly after that, those of you who had your name on the waiting list in case it was rejected don’t need to get your hopes up. There was something about no one better touch it if they wanted to keep their hands…

The really neat thing is that this project left me head over heels in love with lace knitting. It’s the first big project I can ever remember doing that kept my attention for the duration. I was totally addicted to the entire process from start to finish (with the brief exception of a few times I wanted to throw it against the wall). I loved it so much that I had my next project cast on within an hour of finishing this one, and several weeks later, I’m still having to struggle with the self-discipline involved in not working on it 16 hours a day.

And since I’m talking about my capelet anyway, here’s an updated photo. I’ve worked far enough around the bottom edge to have released two of the scallops from the cable needle now. It looks so wonderful! I’m not doing any more math for a while, but considering my new lace knitting time audiobook has 28 CDs, I’m going to be interested to see which I finish first.

Capelet with 2 scallops free
Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 8:30 am  Comments (2)  
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