Oh, for the wings of a dragon

Kim Harrison created her own pattern for a knitted dragon (if you want to check it out, it starts with the supply list), and being me, I immediately thought, “I want to do that!” Of course, my next thought was that each of my kids would be unhappy if I knitted a dragon for the other one first, so the only way to resolve this dilemma was to make one for myself.

However, I’m slow. Not so much when I sit down to do the work, but rather when trying to figure out how to slot it in around reading and work and planning novels and working on edits for the year-past-due mystery … which is why I have one and three-fifths wings done when the knit-along is so very much past that.

Left dragon wing

Left dragon wing

Right dragon wing

Right dragon wing

In fact, you’ll see if you look at these photos of the wings in progress, I added the third panel of the right wing to the wrong side, and I have to take it back off and sew it on the other side (which puts me at somewhat less than three-fifths of that wing done).

One thing this is definitely showing me is that I don’t have time and energy for more than one hobby thing at a time. The only way to have time to knit is to not sketch, color, crochet, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I’m going to keep knitting (I want my dragon!), but that did mean I gave up my goal for sketching every day. Alas!

(And now my daughter wants a homemade Halloween costume, which is going to slow down my progress. Ah, well.)

Double-knitting for double the fun

View of daughter showing length of scarf

Not quite floor-length!

I realized my daughter needed a scarf for winter, especially with cold mornings waiting for the school bus. I decided to make one for her for Christmas (fortunately, not her only present), but got started rather later than I should have — and decided to do double-knitting so it would be warmer and cut the wind better. Of course, that makes the knitting take twice as long, as I effectively knitted two scarves, and as I believe it’s better, when possible, to make something large enough to last a long time, it’s a rather long scarf.

I finally finished the scarf this month, just before the last snow storm, which means she’s gotten to wear it all of two or three times this season. Oh, well, there’s always next year — and many more to come.

Heart knitted into scarf

The heart is the center of it all.

Doing the double-knitting allowed me to use two colors without worrying about the gaping that can happen with intarsia or the strands across the wrong side of the fabric; all I had to do was switch which yarn was in front and which yarn was in back. The end result was a scarf that’s pink with purple patterning on one side and purple with pink patterning on the other. I made up the pattern as I went along, and once I got to the middle of the scarf (the large heart pictured above), I simply repeated what I’d done in reverse — although I did miss one band of alternate color near the end. Oops!
Two ends of a knitted scarf

The two sides of the scarf, showing the reversibility.

Reversible brioche cowl

A little bit ago, I posted about learning the brioche stitch in knitting. Well, the real test of learning is trying to make something (other than swatches). So I poked around and found a simple cowl pattern.

Then I set to work, using the lovely yarn bowl that LJ Cohen made.

Brioche cowl in black and white with ceramic yarn bowl.

When I finished and sent it to her, she took a picture of herself wearing it.

I’m pretty happy with how this turned it. Next up: craft posts about learning Tunisian crochet.

Oh — and check out LJ Cohen’s new book release, Derelict, which just came out this week.

Stitches over time

At the end of the summer, I made my son go through his drawers to find all the clothes he’d outgrown. Among the clothes were T-shirts that his sister is just getting big enough to wear: shirts with dinosaurs and dragons and Lego Batman — and a handful of plain white T-shirts. During the fall, it occurred to me that I had embroidery floss (from making butterflies for her sweater a couple years back) — so why not embroider one of the shirts?

Why not, indeed? Just because the last time I remember embroidery was learning how to do the chain stitch when I was six? Or because most embroidery is done on woven materials, not cotton knit? Or because I had no plan but instead was making it up as I went along?

Minor details, all!

Between Internet searches for instructions and a couple books from the library, I figured I could find my way.

I started simply — scroll stitch and feather stitch around the sleeve hems. A little cross stitch at the neck. Then more elaborate — a Portuguese stem stitch rainbow.

I started jumping around — a bit of lavender chain on one sleeve, flowers below the rainbow, a rocket, pink ladder on the other sleeve, stems and leaves for the flowers.
Embroidered sleeve and shoulder.
embroidered rocket ship and rainbow

The largest section of embroidery (and possibly a mistake to have decided to do) is black space above the rainbow, which is done with a woven fill stitch. I ran out of black embroidery floss and could not find more (always sold out when I visited the store), so I went with a reasonably thin black yarn with metallic thread laced through.
Start of the woven fill embroidery
Eventually, the shirt was done.
The finished embroidered shirt
The stitches pucker a bit in places, and if I do this again I’ll both use fused backing for stabilization and watch my tension better. Still, I’m happy with the end result — and more importantly, so is my daughter.

Dealing with setbacks

I’m still working on the crochet skirt. As I work on each vane, I have to bind off the different colors, which leads to balls of crochet thread left sitting on random horizontal surfaces. This is reasonably safe, as we currently have no felines in residence — except when it isn’t.

Last week a bottled drink was opened on a table with half a dozen such balls on it — and the bottle fizzed over, leaving the balls a tad sticky and in no condition to crochet with. I didn’t want to throw them out and replace them, so I knotted them into a pair of nylons (amazingly, I have some, although its been at least a year and a half since I’ve worn them) and put them in the washing machine, then through the dryer twice.

knotted nylons

After the nylons have been through the laundry.

Now, the downside of this is that cotton thread is wrapped on cardboard cores, and cardboard doesn’t do too well in the washing machine. When I took the nylons out, the balls were noticeably smaller than they’d been previously. When I took the balls out of the nylons, they had some interesting patterns from the way the thread had compressed.

Ball of crochet thread

Standard ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of pink thread

I love the way the whorls of thread look on this.

My husband reminded me that we do have a stock of cardboard tubes around (I save toilet paper rolls for our daughter’s daycare to use in crafts. One of these months, I’ll even remember to take them in!), so I began re-rolling the thread onto the new tubes. Unfortunately, the balls are so thick that even two trips through the dryer hadn’t managed to get all the thread dry, so after I wound some of the thread onto each tube, I had to just pull the rest of the thread off the remains of the original cardboard and leave it piled up to dry.

Crochet thread, half on new tube

Orange crochet thread spread to dry

Crumpled cardboard tubes

Remains of the cardboard tubes from a few balls of the crochet thread

Now I’m in the final stage of this process, finishing the winding onto the new tubes — with lots and lots of untangling and unknotting along the way. In a week or so, I should be able to get back to the crocheting.

Skirting the issue

Yes, that weekly thing . . . didn’t quite work out, did it? No matter. I shall try again.

Today, I’m going to talk about the skirt I’m crocheting for my daughter. I saw a photo of a rainbow doily with a dual-spiral shape on Facebook, and in the comments for that photo, the person who had crocheted it pointed to the pattern on Ravelry she’d used (Fractal by Essi Varis). My daughter loves rainbow colors, and it occurred to me that if I just made the center circle bigger, I could turn the doily into a skirt.

It’s been a little more complicated than that, of course. I added a few extra rows to the central portion, to make certain it’s going to be long enough to cover her at its shortest proportions. Because it’s wider around, instead of doing two vanes, I’m doing ten (currently working on the third one, which should give you some idea how long this project’s going to take to finish). And, of course, I’m going to need to line the skirt when it gets done. The biggest complication is that the vane is crocheted in such a way that I’m working with all the colors simultaneously, binding off each as it grows in length.

Also — it’s going to be heavier than I was expecting. That’s a lot of crochet thread.

So now, to the pictures:

open-work crochet

I’ve posted this before — the start of the central portion of the skirt. The plan is to run ribbon through the pink at the top, making it somewhat adjustable in size.

close-up of color mistake in skirt

Sometimes I goof, as I did with the purples here. Once I realized I’d made the mistake with one color, it was easier to make it symmetric, with the other color swapping, too, than to take it out and fix it.

crocheted skirt panel

A complete vane for the skirt, running from barely there pink to rather long purple. There will be ten of these in the final skirt. (Also, you can see more clearly why the central portion needs to be lined.)

Have you ever taken on a project that turned out to be much bigger than you’d thought it would be?

Tatting efforts

Last year, The Knitter’s Edge (a local yarn shop) had monthly meetings at the library. I think they were supposed to be learn-to-knit gatherings, but I’d never been, and I thought I’d check them out as a way to get out of the house and meet new people.

Of course, this year, they’re not doing that.

However, I looked at their website and saw that they had a variety of classes on offer, including one on tatting that started up in February. I’ve thought off and on about learning to tat, and this seemed like a good opportunity. So off I went on Wednesday evenings, learning to turn crochet thread into lace edgings and medallions.

I need to work on my tension still — my curves sometimes curl up from the plane, and as you can see from the photo of the bookmark, the consistency isn’t there yet. However, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve managed to learn in the past month or so.

Cables and double-points and raglan decreases, oh my!

When I decided to make a sweater for my son, the first step was deciding on a pattern. I poked around a bit online. One of the things I noticed is that there are lots of patterns for kids up to age 6, and then not a lot until you reach adult sizes. Fortunately, my son has hit that age where he’s bordering between a youth extra-large and an adult small, so I looked at men’s sweater patterns. (Yes, it’s a bit of an emotional hit to realize I’m looking at adult sizes for my not-so-little boy who is growing up much too fast, but what can I do? He absolutely refuses to stop growing!) Continue reading

Biting off more than I can chew

I like doing handcrafts. I started young, learning basic chain-stitch embroidery from my parents (almost the only stitch I remember how to do), then crocheting from my mom (mostly because my little brother was learning, and I couldn’t stand for him to know if I didn’t — same reason I finally started riding a bike without training wheels). Eventually, I added more — knitting, sewing, quilting, and my new experiment, tatting. Continue reading