Symphony At Last!

Finally she is done and ready for the big time!


My Symphony Scarf, big sister to the Concerto Stole and Scarf I completed several weeks ago!

Symphony done 035

Although I’ve had my Just For You Mitts available on Ravelry and here on my blog for free since last spring, and the Concerto KAL has been going beautifully this autumn (with some awesome finished projects now up on Ravelry!) , the Symphony Scarf is a special and very big step for me. This is the first time I’ve offered one of my own patterns up for sale, outside of some smocking designs that were published back in the 1980’s. Needless to say, I’m truly excited, despite the knocking knees that go with putting such a project out as a public offering.

I know I’ve designed a good pattern. It’s not a quick “grab a design from a stitch dictionary and knit it X number of times, then bind off” sort of pattern. Symphony has 3 large diamonds outlined by bands of stockinette, each diamond filled with a different design. The diamonds are nestled into a mesh background and the whole thing is finished with a completely original lace edging, which gave me a whole series of headaches all its own. It’s intended for intermediate level knitters who would like to challenge themselves by using some of the less common stitches – like nupps, clusters, bobbles, and centered eyelets. However, I’ve used those stitches within the various diamonds in limited quantities. Instead of committing to a project with hundreds of nupps, this gives the opportunity to use just a few  – learn the stitch without going totally insane in the process. There are also a very wide variety of single and double decreases, knitted on edgings, and adding beads to knitting.

Because this is not a repetitious pattern, it turned into a 10 page publications, 6 pages of which are beautiful, professional quality charts. Listening to people talk in the groups, I decided to offer the computer generated stitch by stitch as an extra to those who request it when they purchase the pattern. It will be quite a long document on its own, as just the body of the scarf has 470 rows, and it isn’t as nice as if I’d written it all out, but it is quite functional for those who can’t use charts at all. When I say “not as nice,” where I would say: (K2, YO, SSK) 3 times, the computer prints: K2, YO, SSK, K2, YO, SSK, K2, YO, SSK. I tried rewriting it, but after spending over 2 hours one evening, I had only the first 35 rows rewritten and not even proofed. It just isn’t practical to do that project, at least not at this point in time.

I wanted to get some photos that showed the diaphanous nature of the scarf, but Murphy intervened. Not only do I live in town, leaving me a lack of clear sky backgrounds, but there was a very stiff breeze blowing. Still, I think this gives a hint as to the hand of my pretty Symphony…

Symphony done 013

There is a funny story behind this pattern… and it’s also why it’s taken me until now to have her done. When I was asked to teach beginner and intermediate lace, Concerto came to my mind in a flash, but Symphony had a name and nothing else for quite a long  time. In fact, while trying to birth her, I accidentally came up with two other designs that are now in my sketchbook awaiting birth. After what was starting to feel like an eternity, I finally did begin to work out who Symphony was going to be, but she still wasn’t going to make things easy for me. Some parts were recharted so many times I lost track, and when I finally reached the edging and thought I had everything under control, I discovered I was dead wrong on that account, too! After several complete froggings and back to the drawing board moments with the edging, I managed to get one end completed a few hours before I was to hand it over to Arlene for display at the shop, advertising classes. It HAD to be blocked, so in a panic, I pinned her out and put her in the car on the blocking mats, then drove the hour with the windows wide open, hoping I’d have a dry scarf by the time I arrived. It worked… but I’d rather not have to employ that method again! And it was SO embarrassing to have it on display in the store with one end unfinished. 😦 Eventually I was able to kidnap her to bring home and finish. Now she’s done – and more than that, the pattern is written, and as of now it’s up on Ravelry and in my Etsy shop available for sale!

How much more excitement can there be in store for me this autumn??? 😀


Yarn Art

I was teaching at my LYS yesterday, and not surprisingly, during the course of the day, I picked up a few things here and there for some projects I have in mind, plus a skein of yarn for a prize drawing on the Yahoo group where I’ve been hosting the Concerto KAL. I had to laugh when I went to pay for my treasures. Totally by accident, the goodies I’d gathered for four different projects were perfectly coordinated!

Coordinates 002

It made me wonder if there was a good, creative way to use them all together in a project, then I remembered I’m giving the skein of alpaca away (It’s heading to Germany to an alpaca newbie!). I decided in the end that maybe the best way to use it all together was with to make some yarn art. Isn’t it pretty? And this way, Claudia gets her prize, my doll gets her outfit, my shawl still gets its special touch, and I’m still totally baffled as to what I’m ever going to do with those fantastic buttons. 😉

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Momentous Day!

I feel like today has been a very long time coming – even longer than the 16 1/2 months it really was.

In June of last year, I began tearing up my sewing room – the official start of a complete remodeling. No, I’m not anywhere near done with the entire project, but today I completed  what is undoubtedly the single biggest project within the project – the fireplace… or actually faux fireplace. I’m obviously eager to share it with you all, and I thought this would be a good time to show everything that was involved in doing it. Yes, it was a lot of work. No, it wouldn’t have taken nearly this long if had only been focused on this one project (Get real!), and hadn’t been waylaid by occasionally having to depend on someone else and by having only an outdoor work area that is useless during at least a third of the year.

So anyway, here is what I started with June a year ago:

Sewing Room Scary!

A little scary, isn’t it? Seriously not the look I needed for the vision I have of my room.

Sewing Room 002

We hauled it outside, and I spent days stripping it.

Sewing Room 004

The outer coat of paint bubbled and came off nicely, but the under layer was a total nightmare, first refusing to soften at all, and then turning into a molasses like substance that dripped all over everything, but didn’t clean off the wood easily. The process reminded me just how much I hate stripping paint. 😦 Eventually I did get it clean enough.

Sewing Room 005

I never did manage to positively identify the wood, which was really pretty. I wish I could have used it just varnished, but there was just no way. The bottom of both columns was rotted out. The photo below actually shows the far better of the two sides. The other bottom was almost entirely missing, and what was still there was a series of wafer thin, gill-like strips of wood from the stronger part of the grain. Of course, I did that side first, then realized I’d forgotten to take a picture… sigh…

Sewing Room 004

I dug out my Apoxie Sculpt and used it to reconstruct the missing areas on the columns, to reinforce the areas that were honeycombed, and to also replace the missing corners on the top of the mantle. I love this stuff – total miracle product in my opinion. The uses are endless, and here it was a lifesaver!

Sewing Room 007

Since this is easily sanded when dry, I didn’t worry about doing a perfect job when filling.

Remodel 002

Here is one of the columns sanded and primed – definite improvement, eh? In fact, by the end of July, the whole thing was looking substantially better. 🙂

Remodel 001

This is also when I started running into some problems. First, it was far too hot outside to paint for the better part of several weeks. The paint was drying almost on contact, producing a nasty, lumpy, torn, and streaked finish. I scrubbed one entire coat off (in tears) while it was still damp enough to do so, and then I parked the project until the cooler days of autumn. I did get the painting done before I took my somewhat unexpected trip to Honduras for 3 weeks, but by the time I was home, it was past the outdoor work season. My freshly painted mantle spent the winter parked on sawhorses in the driveway, right where my car belonged, collecting dirt. Glad we didn’t too much snow last winter. 😉

As soon as spring arrived, I got out a bucket of warm water and a miracle cloth, and cleaned my baby up – thankfully no long term damage! I lit a fire under hubby to get the next part of the project done, as I didn’t want to leave it out during the approaching rainy season. Originally, the mantle had hung on the wall, more or less resting on the carpet, but with the carpet gone, there was a big gap between the bottom of the columns and the floor. I had him make plinths to go in this space and also to help support the mantle a bit, rather than have the entire weight on the wall brackets we’d installed. The plinths weren’t an easy project for him. First of all, he’s still not fully comfortable with using the router, especially to do an edging. Secondly, the floor is extremely sloped, so the pieces he needed to make weren’t the same, and weren’t even square. He did a pretty nice job, though, and the final product looks almost original.

Fireplace 006

Oops! Where did that bit of dust come from?

Meanwhile, I’d also decided very quickly that the piece of brick paneling was NOT going to be part of the finished look. After several hours of internet research, I decided on antique fireplace brick and a fireplace cover as the solution, and with many more hours of effort, I finally found exactly what I wanted. When the brick arrived, though, I discovered that I’d been misled about what I was getting. I had another huge project ahead of me before they could be used – hours and hours and hours standing outside at the bench grinder getting rid of the old mortar. Pix of the tile grinding are in this blog post.

On the other hand, the fireplace cover was absolutely splendid, and very much to my taste.

Fireplace 005

The moment I saw it, I knew it was “the one.” She reminds me of Lady Liberty on the 1800’s coins – much like the draped bust coins in feel but even better, and she reminds me of my internet handle of “Face From the Past.” 🙂

Once the tiles were cleaned, I was facing yet another daunting task. The floor is sloped, but the mantle is level, so that I can put clocks on it. I had to lay the tiles in such a way that they didn’t make anything look out of plumb, even though all of it was. I took loads of measurements and drew everything out on the backing board, then spent a long and tense evening while hubby was on the road a couple weeks ago  spacing tiles in such a way that they were parallel to the mantle at the top edge, but parallel to the floor by the time they got down to the fireplace insert. (See why I was knitting the Un-Spun projects? Definitely needed to de-stress!)

Clock 003

I was terrified that it was going to look awful to have such a dramatic change in spacing in only a couple of feet of space, and it was terribly tedious work, as I couldn’t even use spacers. I stuck the tiles down one at a time with Dap StrongStik after testing it on some scrap and finding it impossible to remove the tile the next day.

About a week later – last Sunday, actually – it was time to do the grouting. With a bit of a giggle, I dug out my tools – the postal scale I use when shipping merchandise, a big cranberry mixing bowl, a small measuring cup, and a rubber spatula – enough to make any man cringe – and stirred up a batch of grout. May not be exactly standard equipment, but I definitely feel comfortable with it, and I think it’s a lot easier to use than the suggested trowel and who knows what sort of container.

Stash 015

It looked so much like a bowlful of batter that I just had to laugh, and I laughed even more when I was washing the tile down a little later, as I noticed the water and my sponge had taken on the definite appearance of

Stash 016

a square yoked egg! 😀

Anyway… I was extremely relieved to see that once the grout was added, the variation in tile spacing drifted into the background, becoming something that I only notice if I look for it.

Now there was the problem of mounting the cover, and after wondering for weeks how I was going to accomplish it, last night the solution came to me suddenly and totally unexpectedly – and it was SO simple! I’d already thought about using the StrongStik to adhere it to the tile face, but I was still concerned that if it ever let loose, it would slam forward and possibly damage something – a special concern since I expect my china dolls will want to hang out around the fireplace once I’m finished with the room. I don’t know what took me so long to think of this, but there was a solid wire loop attached to the back of the cover, and all I needed to do was twist a screw-eye into the backing board below the tiles and tie a strong string between the screw-eye and the wire – instant insurance! Why that took me months to think of is beyond me!

So today was the big day – the day we picked up this monstrously heavy tiled board and moved it into the sewing room, lifted the mantle off the wall, and put it all together, allowing me to see for the first time in real life what has been living in my dreams for over 16 months. I am definitely NOT disappointed!!!

Drumroll please….

(and perhaps another peek back to that original photo at the top of the post???)

Sewing Room Scary!


Fireplace 004

Sorry picture is a wee bit dark - bad lighting in the room... for now...

Yup! I’m seriously thrilled!!! 😀 Can’t wait until I can dress it now!

Dancing away for the second time this week…

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