Friday, January 12, 2007

Knitting This Week

A pair of Snowflake Lace Socks by Melanie Berney from Magknits. Made in Fleece Artist in the softest pastel handpaint. Maybe a little too muted. The yarn almost looks like something bled on it in the wash, but I love it and am very happy with this project. It is so relaxing to me to knit someone else's pattern and this one was beautifully written.

Another procrastination project - a pair of baby booties for my God-daughter, Stephanie, who just found out she is expecting her 2nd child! A sweater is already floating around in my imagination and will no doubt come forth from the needles before her due date. This pattern was from a new book I just bought, Socks, Socks, Socks, and was designed by Maude Smith. It was a very quick detour from the new designs I can't show you yet, and I plan on making up more of the socks in this book when I need relief from math and designs that I can't get to come out exactly right for the 15th time.

On Wednesday morning I taught a Needle Felting Class for the Pomegranate Guild, a group of Jewish needleworkers.

I know I said I'm not teaching anymore, but my friend Gloria Ilan (above, on the right) caught me at a moment when I couldn't say 'no'. Yes, I do have those rare moments - just ask Eden. He takes advantage of them as often as possible.

Never having been enthusiastic about needle felting, I nonetheless felt (!) it would be something the ladies would enjoy and they did! Brandi, at Stitches From the Heart, gave me a brief lesson and loaded me up with supplies the day before, and off I went, after searching in vain at 4 different 99 cent stores for those foam noodles that kids use in the swimming pool. Brandi said that they made a good and cheapo substitute for the $18 needle felting brushy base that Clover sells. But I guess they are out of season, so balls of yarn were used by those who didn't wish to purchase a brushy base and they worked just fine.

Final words on this subject - I still do not like needle felting and will never do it again. If I am going to spend time embellishing things, I much prefer applique, beading, embroidery, or just about anything else.

I got this book this week and it is yummy. I heartily recommend it to anyone who is fond of modular knitting and doesn't mind spending the next year and a half on one project! Every Koigu pattern that has already been published (and sold for $20) is included plus more, and this time with professionally rendered charts and (hopefully) better instructions. I was fascinated to read the story of how Koigu came to be.

And finally - look what came in the mail today! An amazing selection of yarns from Blue Moon Fiber Arts! Home of the fabulous yarn, Socks that Rock. Maybe you have heard about the banking fiasco Tina suffered the other day when so many people paid her $210 to join the Sock o' the Month Club that the bank freaked out and decided it was a scam! And in the course of fixing that, Tina contacted me and we chatted - one thing led to another - and maybe there will be some Ellene Warren Designs for Blue Moon Fibers! There is nothing that inspires me more than yarn and yarn that has been hand-dyed by a real artist is the best of all.

Wig Making This Week

No, it's not another moustache (one was quite enough for me right now) I was eager to get on with the real deal! Remember, last week I learned how to make a custom cap and pad out the head block. If you click on the photos, they will enlarge and you can see the seams and darts. This is not the way Victoria makes her caps. I am trying an experiment on this one, using my 18 plus years of experience covering human breasts with fabric, and applying what I learned to the silk mesh (called 'lace) used for wig caps. For us knitterly types, 'lace' has a different meaning!

Heads are actually easier than boobs. Larger (mostly) but without the added complexity of having to hoist them up and keep them in place!
See the tiny teeny weeny little mesh spaces. The hairs are tied on individually to the thread that forms the mesh. The black lines you see are on the taped form underneath the mesh. These lines are used to keep the form aligned. You slash the tape perpendicular to the black line, stuff in batting, using a dental spatula, and then re-tape, making sure the lines come back together perfectly. This way, there is no distortion of the head. Hopefully. The lace cap must fit perfectly smoothly to the taped form.

Transparent nylon thread is used to sew the seams (semi flat feld seams) and darts. Vikki and her girls use the ventilation hook to sew the seams. I, being so much more adept with a needle, used a fine beading needle. (and my trusty thimble) You must sew across one thread only on the right side, so the comb won't get caught in the stitching.

Here is the bottom edge at the nape. About 1/2" needs to be double knotted because the hairs are thicker (2 or 3 hairs tied together here - the 'root' will never show) and going through more layers - there is a 3/8" hem all the way around a cap. The hairs are tied through all the layers, but over only one top thread of the lace. Very difficult. Also, getting into the neck with the tool is difficult. This is the hardest part, and learning with the kinky hair makes it even more of a challenge.

Tying the knots is exactly like putting on fringe with a crochet hook, only instead of folding the hair in half and ending up with 2 strands, you just fold over about 1/2". Hair has a 'grain' (cuticle) and must be applied with the root end at the cap and the cut end at the...end. If not, it will never lay smoothly or in the case of Afro-kinky hair, the cuticles going north will lock with the cuticles going south and make a huge snarly mess. Or so I am told. I don't want to find out, as it takes about a million hours to make a wig. What you see here (just the ventilation) has taken me about 12 hours so far. I am actually getting faster!

The double knot is made like a single and then a chain one, to use crochet tems.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I am still into this!

But not to the point of (ever) giving up my knitting. See the next post.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holiday Gifts Revealed

Now that they have been given out, I can show you some of the gifts I made for friends and family for the holidays.

Here are some beaded, knitted bracelets. I bought the original kit from Earth Faire. If you click on this link, you will see a bracelet kit for Valentine's Day that is just gorgeous. They are knitted on 0 needles - not really as bad as you would think. It takes longer to put the beads on than it does to make the entire bracelet. The boxes were purchased from a bead store in Pasadena, where I went to buy more beads to make more bracelets (like I didn't already have enough beads in my stash)

This is my Reversible Cable Scarf and Gauntlets, made in Foliage instead of Paton's SWS, as called for in the pattern. I gave this one to my niece and the Foliage to her mom, my sister. Her birthday happens to be today, and her gift isn't finished yet. Happy Birthday Julie! I know you love to keep those gifts rolling in all month!

This is the Charlotte's Web I made in Applelaine Yarn. It was for my other niece, Aimee. She loves purple. At 8 years old, I must say she has learned how to crochet and knit faster than any other student I've ever taught, including adults!

And this last photo is a new pattern I am working on for Koigu. It is called Electric Sox and will include 3 different sock patterns, all with beads knitted in (electric...the beads look like they are tiny light bulbs) This one is called Electric Flowers. There are also Electric Zig Zag and Electric Argyle. I will post pictures as they are completed and will link to the pattern when it is finished.

I'm also working on a couple of other patterns for Koigu (sweaters) and hope to have them finished in time for Stitches West in February.