Saturday, August 24, 2013

This is the cardigan that doesn't end...

I started knitting a multicolor cardigan in July of 2012.  I thought it would be fun to try some more intricate color work, and this pattern seemed to be a good one to start with because it doesn't actually involve fair isle, it utilizes slip stitches to bring colors up.  However, the pattern requires careful counting and with my busy life, it is taking me forever.  But since I'm STILL waiting on my loom parts (it's been 3 weeks now since I ordered them), I figured I'd get what I could done on this cardigan and hopefully finish it and move onto a new thing.  (Which I'm pretty sure is what knitters live for, starting new projects!)

So here is my current progress:

My helper, Elsie.

I chose earth tones inspired by a Navajo rug I saw in a shop.  While they're growing on me, I have to admit that at first I wasn't so sure about them.  But now I'm pretty pleased.  I have the back and the left front completed, and they are joined at the shoulder.  It's curling a lot at the edges because of the stockinette stitch, but I think you can see the basic shape.
This is the right front that's on my needles now, and as you can see I'm a few inches in.  Yes, 13 months later, I'm still working on the basic pieces.  I'm using 100% wool, since I really wanted this to be a warm sweater.  Lately, though, I've been having problems with finishing items, blocking them, and they fit perfectly, but then after wearing and washing, they seem to change and don't fit quite like I want.  But we'll see.  So far, this is looking like it'll fit good. 
Here's the reverse side of the back piece.  Kinda interesting, huh?

But I haven't been only knitting.  I have also been planning with my weaving.  I'm ready with yarn for the first project in the Learning to Weave book, as well as ideas for 2 additional projects.  In the following photo, from left to right, are the yarn for the sampler, 2 colors for a pair of different scarves on the same warp, and 7 colors for a plaid try!
Hopefully they get some action soon.  The cones are actually knitting machine yarn.  I recently inherited a knitting machine from Chris's family, and there was quite a stash of yarn.  I sold the machine on eBay but decided to keep the yarn to experiment with on my loom.  It's mostly icky acrylic stuff, but it's in a lot of good, bold colors and I didn't want it to go to waste.  Perfect for learning and experimenting!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

BBQ cover makeover

When your husband asks for a trip to the fabric know trouble is coming. 

My husband Chris is a budding amateur barbeque enthusiast.  He is always experimenting with grilling, and in this hot weather, I'm all for him cooking dinner outside!  He is busy collecting all the dream grills he "needs", and this led to that aforementioned trip to the fabric store.  He bought an add on pellet attachment to his Weber Smoky Mountain smoker, and so the cover that Weber sends out no longer fits. Here is the beast:
My given task was to modify his existing weather cover to incorporate the pellet box.  I went to Joann Fabrics and found this great material: Marine/RV vinyl that is waterproof and nice looking.  (And I just love their iPhone app that always has a 40% off coupon, because at $17.99 per yard, it can get pricey!)  I decided to use the existing cover's top and cut it off at the level where the box comes up to.  I then measured for three new pieces: a 63.5"x 26.5" piece to go around the bottom of the smoky mountain, a 65" x 16" piece to cover the front, top, and back of the pellet box, and a 26.5" x 12" piece to cover the left side of the pellet box. 

I then used fray stop on the old cover that I cut, just in case it decides to fray/unravel.  Then I started sewing together the pieces (by hand of course because my sewing machine protested and refused to help me out.)  Using Coats Outdoor Thread, I started with the pellet box side panel, attaching it to the top and side panel.  I found the best way to secure the material while sewing was to use plastic coated paper clips, since any pins would put holes in the material that would compromise its water-tightness.  My sewing skills aren't fantastic, but it's functional!!
Sewing in action, I used a backstitch.
Step one finished.

Step two finished.
That piece set aside, I sewed on the body extender to the existing cover top.
You can see that there is an opening where the pellet box sits, and this is where I lined up the other piece to match.  The easiest way I could find was actually turning all pieces inside out, putting them on the grill, and paper-clipping them in place, so the alignment would be right.  Then I sat down and sewed that seam too.  The bottom was hemmed and I added a vinyl strap with velcro to two sides to keep the wind from blowing it off (unlikely but it makes he hubby happy), and TADA!!
I have successfully crossed something off my honey-do list and hopefully earned a few brownie points and a few grilled meals!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A knitting break-in

Right now I'm waiting for my parts to come in for my loom (WHY aren't there any weaving supply stores in Oklahoma??), so I've been working on finishing up some knitting and felting projects I have going right now. The latest off my needles is a wide zig zag scarf/shawl I made for my mom for Mother's Day. She requested I add 18" more to its length, and I just finished it up. Here is the final product:

I am a little hesitant to hand it over :) - It's a great size to either wear around your neck or wrap around your shoulders as a shawl.  I also love the Paton's Lace yarn I chose, it's long color repeats were just the thing I was looking for.  However, I'm not a fan of the mohair much.  But it was a nice mindless knit and Mom seems to love it.  Here is my Ravelry page with the details (it's a free pattern!).

I'm thinking I will continue keeping one knitting project on the needles while I'm starting off on the weaving.  Knitting is something I can do while watching my kids or while they nap, and the weaving is going to have to be something that I do once they go to bed.  There is just too much stuff on that loom that the kids would think is fantastic...

I've chosen Deborah Chandler's book Learning to Weave to get me going on the loom.  I've talked to other weavers who have used this as a beginning weaving tool and think it is indeed informative and provides a nice structured, step-by-step tutorial on weaving.  I've read up to the point where you are supposed to measure out the warp, and since the loom isn't functional yet, I'll stop there.  I'm itching to dive right in. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Adventures

I'm starting of on a new learning adventure and documenting it online where someone else might benefit from what I learn seems like a good way to do it.  First of all, you should know that I am a busy stay at home mom who likes to make things.  Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  Ok...maybe that doesn't describe ALL of me, but I'll have to branch out later.  I think it was ingrained in me from a young age to be crafty.  My mom exudes craftiness and I did my best to repel it for as long as possible.  But eventually, I started knitting.  The knitting began when my oldest son was very small.  He napped all the time, so I decided to pick up knitting to fill some of those naps.  Anyone with kids knows what happened next: the naps got shorter.  But regardless, I found a creative outlet and jumped in with both feet.

My new adventure is weaving.  My husband's grandmother owned a beautiful Leclerc Nilus weaving loom, on which she wove rag rugs.  After her death, I learned that the loom was in storage in a family member's garage - unclaimed and gathering dust.  My mother-in-law seemed tickled pink that someone wanted to use it, and I'd always admired the looms at The Yarn Barn of Kansas, so I eagerly agreed to take it. 
Here it is - a 45" 4-shaft, 6-treadle loom.  She used it ONLY to weave rugs, so there are some adjustments and repairs needed.  There is a sectional warping beam on back, so that needs to be removed and an apron needs to be added.  The reeds were junky and rusty, so I think I'll order new ones.  My wonderful, tolerant husband helped me replace a bent lag bolt holding on the brake mechanism, and the treadles need a new tie up system.

But I'm so eager to get started weaving and I think it will be a good learning opportunity, a valuable skill set, and maybe a money maker??? in the future.  (Oh and probably a time-hog too!!)

I took a weaving class in Lawrence, KS at the Yarn Barn 2 weeks ago.  It is a fabulous experience that they offer - a room full of looms where you can sit down and hear a master weaver describe the process and then get your hands "dirty" trying it yourself.  The fire in me was lit.  Since then, I've been working on gathering the things I need to fix up the loom and get going!