Monday, September 19, 2011

Blocking My Blue Lace Scarf

After  I finished knitting my Sapphire Stack of Owls scarf, I quickly had to order some blocking wires.  I opted for the Blockit Plus Kit which has double the wires of the Blockit Kit because I had a 50%-off coupon.

Here's the wet scarf laying on my blocking mats.

Close up of the curly scarf.  Because the body of the scarf is stockinette (and lace holes), the edges curl in.  There is a 3-stitch garter stitch border, but it doesn't do much to combat the curl.

Let me tell you, it's not easy to weave 3-foot-long ridgid wires into wet knitting.  Especially when you're sitting hunched over on a HARD floor and your body is creaky.  Ha!  Getting the scarf all wired and pinned to the blocking mat took an hour.

The garter stitch edge helped guide my wire weaving, and I wove under and over each row.  The scarf was so long that I ended up needing to use 3 wires on each side (the wires overlapped ... the thing wasn't 9' long ... ha!).

Here is a shot of all 6 wires woven into the edges of the scarf.

Here the pinning has begun.  Oh!  And at either edge, I've woven a short aluminum tube.  I bought them for a completely different project, but they were perfect for this.  Thank goodness I didn't need to use the 3-foot-long wires for the ends, because I know I would have tripped over them.

Starting at one end and working my way across, I measured out 7 inches and pinned the wires into place.

I also poked each owl in both eyes and wiggled my finger around to get big, wide eye holes.  Here you can see the difference between the poked and unpoked eyes.  I got some impish pleasure from the poking.

All pinned up!

I'm getting the photos for the final post ready.  Let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you in that post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now Accepting Advertising

I've had ads on my blog for a while, but I decided to administer them myself instead of using an ad network.  I'm going to limit the number of ads I accept until I get my sea legs, so if you're interested (and you think you're a good fit for my blog) don't hesitate ... wink wink.

Want more info?  Check out my Advertising Info page.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Guest Post on Whip Up

Wanna learn about my first knit lace project?  Read my guest post on Whip Up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Peacock Sweater - Done Done Done

The peacock sweater is finally done done done!

I used almost every bit of nine skeins of Patons Grace in Viola.  Near the end, I was using the little scraps I'd cut from other parts of the sweater to finish the arms.  I was afraid they were going to be too short, but they ended up perfect bracelet-length after blocking.

However, I miscalculated where my elbows would be.  I should have trusted my measurements and not my pre-blocked sweater.   The elbows are a tiny bit baggy, but when I have the sweater on with a shirt, they fit just fine.  Whew!  I was afraid I'd have to re-crochet them.

These first two photos of me laughing were taken right after Andrew said, "This looks like the cover of an album I would never buy."  Ha!  I got a huge case of the giggles!

We took these in the courtyard of our apartment building.  I didn't know there would be these gorgeous flowers out there.  The lavender blooms match my sweater perfectly!

It was around 6 or 7 PM when we took these and it was pretty cool out.  The sweater was perfectly comfy.  It's going to be great in the winter when it's chilly out.  And, since it's cotton, it won't overheat me when I'm inside where the heat is on.

I love this sweater!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Blocking the Peacock Sweater

It's been three years and a month since I started fantasizing about making a sweater from this yarn in this stitch pattern.  And two weeks before that was when I started messing around with the stitch pattern.  Slow and steady wins the race ... ha!

I swear I saw play mats like this for sale at the dollar store, but I could never track them down again.  My craft night buddy Anne gave the the heads up that our local drugstore had them for $7 or so for 9.  Not bad, so I picked up a set.

Here is the sweater pre-wetting.  I want to tell everyone who gave me blocking advice, THANK YOU!  You definitely kept me from total disaster.  I was really liking the idea of hanging the sweater.  Ha!

I scrubbed the hell out of the kitchen sink, then used the dish sprayer (I love that thing!) to gently wet the sweater.  Once everything was wet, I pressed out the excess with my hands.  Then I laid the sweater on a towel, rolled it up, and then stood on it to squeeze out more water.

When I was shaping the sweater, I had my tape measure in hand to make sure that the motifs were 3" tall.  I didn't want to over-stretch it.

My friend June warned me that the cotton Patons Grace yarn can take forever to dry when blocking, which is why I waited until I had the play mats.  I can only imagine how long it would take on a thirsty cotton towel.

As it is, the sweater has been there for about 36 hours ... and it's still damp.  Gah!  This is testing my patience.  ;)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Braided Cable Headband

I completed my knitted braided cable headband.  It's made from Schulana Merino Cotton 135.  It's a soft and spongy yarn that doesn't itch me at all.
I love the look of the braided cables.  The cables also give the DK-weight yarn more thickness to keep my ears warm.  I opted for a three-stitch stockinette edge.

Here is the outside of the bit I put under my hair.  Not as beautiful as it could be, but it's hidden.

Here is the inside of the under-hair bit.  I wanted to make the under-hair bit as narrow as possible, which is why it's folded into a tube here.

I talked about all my cable tests before and mentioned that I wanted to have the cables come out of the ribbing in a cool way. I ended up not using ribbing under the hair so I could start with the least possible stitches.

Instead, I started with just the 4 stitches I needed to start each mini cable and put one purl between them.  As I started the cable, I added a second purl stitch to the ditch.  Each time I cabled, I added a stitch to the underneath column until each column had three stitches.

It's big on, but it has to be that big to cover my ears.  It's superwarm and comfy.  I've already had a chance to try it out!

Summers in San Francisco are chilly.  Even on warm days, the night brings a blanket of icy fog and wind.  A normal summer day starts with a cool foggy morning that clears to sunshine from around 11 to 3, then the fog starts rolling in around 4.

I totally feel for everyone who is dealing with the ridiculously hot summer this year.  I grew up in the Midwest and spent 4 summers in Philadelphia (more like Sweat-a-delphia!), so I know just how miserable summer heat can be.  I wish I could bottle up our chilly fog and send each of you a small bit to pour over your head when the heat gets to be too much.

This is a close-up of the far buildings in the photo below.  When the fog rolls in, it starts to swallow the buildings.  It's a fast process and you can see the fog blowing down the street in gusts of frosty wind.

view full-sized version

Here is the long shot.  Where we are standing, it was warm and almost too sunny.  BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT.  The sky in SF is a unique and amazing blue all the time, and in the summer the fog invades from the ocean like an arctic menace.  

I love the super creepy feeling of looking down the street and thinking, "Hey, where did Twin Peaks go?" and seeing the radio antenna sticking out of the fog.  I love getting caught in the middle of the swirling fog as it envelopes the city in an ethereal storm.  It's one of the only times you can see the forces of nature acting on a huge scale but in a completely non-destructive way.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Clown Sweater Construction Details

Get ready to learn more information about the construction of a mini clown sweater than any one human should know.

You might be wondering, "Why, Alice?"  Sure, Think Geek asked for the sweater, but why did I make it?  Why this sweater?  I'll tell you the truth, I asked myself the same question about halfway through making it.

I'd seen the photo around the interwebs once or twice, but I didn't know the story behind it until I looked it up after seeing the Think Geek costume wish list.   So it wasn't out of being a part of some in-joke.

And then, while I was writing an update posts about the sweater, I clicked over to the wish list and this caught my eye ...
... and I realized I was making a mini clown sweater ON A DARE.  I had read, "can this be done!?" and before I did the google search to find out what the hell they were talking about, I'd already answered, "Of course it can be done, and I'm gonna do it!"

Please don't dare me to do anything truly awful, because apparently I can't back down from a good challenge. :)  Especially if you question my ability to successfully complete said challenge.

After scoping out the sweater, I took a quick peek in my stash and, to my delight, realized I had all the colors needed ... even an already-been-chewed-gum pink for the lips ... all thanks go to the awesome Linda Permann.

Linda and I did a crafty swap a while back.  Part of what I asked for was yarn to use in color work projects ... single balls, bits and bobs.  Every bit of yarn in this sweater came from our swap.  Having the yarn already made it feel like I was *meant* to make this sweater.  It was my destiny.

None of the yarn I used had ball bands, but I think it was around DK weight.  I used super small needles, 2.75 mm, so I would have the most stitches per inch possible.  I wanted as many "knit pixels" as possible to create the face.

I started knitting the sweater body flat at the bottom.  When I got to the underarms, I split the piece into front and back and knit straight up.  This is a photo of the seam at center back.  I'd planned ahead and had a couple extra stitches to make the seam, so you can't really see the seam from the outside.  Mattress stitch FTW!

There are three rows of 2x2 ribbing at the hem and neck.  To match the original, I sewed the edges of the top together as a boat neck opening.

I did the nose eyes and mouth using intarsia.  Yes.  Even the six-stitch eyes are intarsia.  It was tricky, but satisfying.

In the original sweater, the mouth is purled.  I compromised on this point because I knew I was planning to outline the color with back-stitched black yarn.  On a purl background, the back stitching would have disappeared in the grooves between rows.

I'm not 100% satisfied with the nose shape.  It's much better than the my first attempt, but I think I could have shaved stitches off the left and right and been OK.

The eyebrows are duplicate stitch, which means I sewed the red to mimic the real white stitches after I was done knitting.

Because I didn't have a lot of face real estate on the front of the sweater, I decided to outline the face shapes with black yarn.  At first I tried making my back stitches as long as I could, but ultimately I found that doing single stitch long back stitches looked best.  They matched up to each other better than longer stitches and they didn't move around as much.  And ...

... they  s  t  r  e  t  c  h  nicely without buckling the knitting fabric.

Here's the inside.  Since Timmy isn't a real person  that moves around and might catch his fingers on the loose yarns and this sweater isn't going in the washing machine I just tied off the ends and secured them.

For the arms, I knit them flat starting at the armpits so the edge was the same size as the arm hole (aka armscye) in the sweater.  Then I decreased a stitch on each side every-other row until I had the stitches I needed for the cuff diameter.  Here I did three rows of 2x2 ribbing at the cuff.

This is the seam under the arm.  You'd never want to make arms on an actual sweater like this, but it worked perfectly for the monkey.  After sewing the seam, I sewed the arms into the sweater.

Here you can see the armscye seam from the inside.  The red is where I sewed on the clown hair over-sleeves.

Oh, the glorious clown hair over-sleeves!  I made them separately and then sewed them to the sweater at the shoulder.  

They are crocheted:

odd number of fsc (25 is what I used)

sc in the top of the first fsc BLO (back loop only) and each around (you'recrocheting in a spiral) for 4 rows total

then, working back down the spiral, sc in the front loop, *chain 5, sc in the front loop two times* repeat between * until you get back to the beginning of the spiral.

Since I started with an odd number of stitches, the "hair clumps" are staggered each row resulting in the wonderful lumpy hair you see here.

Here's a peek under the over-sleeve.

Here's a couple more pix of the arm hair.  It's like mini scales of fluffy clowny goodness.

Cute enough to pinch!


I was lucky that I got one of the Timmy dolls to use as a model because I was able to make the sweater to fit him exactly.  As you can see here, he's got a weird shaped neck hump which required width of the sweater back to be about a third longer than the front.  Nothing like a bespoke mini clown sweater ... that's what I always say.  

This photo makes me think of Peter Gabriel's inverted mohawk from the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway days.  That hair cut freaks me out every time I see it.  Did you know there's a tribute band touring doing the whole LLDOB show with many of the original costumes and the full blessing of Genesis?  The world is a crazy place.

The night before I was going to ship out the sweater, I thought I should mark mine since I imagined they were going to get a closet full of clown sweaters, so I quickly sewed up this tag on white felt with a single black sewing thread.

I started by putting horizontal guidelines so all the letters would be mostly lined up and the same height.  Well, actually I started off freehand and it looked like a drunk person stitching.  I picked that out and THEN I did the guidelines, which worked out nicely.

I really think it would be amazing to have mini clown fingerless gloves, don't you!?  The hair might make digging in your pockets a pain, but holy crap, making people shake your clown hands would be a special kind of joy.

Think Geek ended up getting three clown sweaters.  Are they amazing all together, or what!?

So, that's everything I can think of to tell you.  Have any other questions?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Knit & Crochet Like a Boss

Last night the Clown Sweater was featured on Wil Wheaton's Tumblr.

w00t! imma 1337 {|24ph73|2*  (just going for the nerd gold, here)

(* "I'm an elite crafter")

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Clown Sweater Sleeves

I am savoring this project.  Taking my time.  Enjoying every step.  This is so much fun, I don't want it to end.  I'm going to be a little sad when it's all over and I have to mail it away.

It's not the mailing away part that makes it sad though.  Even if I was keeping the sweater, I'd be sad when the project was over.  No more clown sweater challenges to solve (meet, rise to, face, address, conquer, attack, come against ... what is the right word here?), no more tiny sweater bits to craft on tiny needles, no more anticipation about how epic the sweater is going to be when it's done.

And even though it will be an epic sweater (EPIC!), in my brain there is world of difference in the excitement levels of "making the most EPIC mini-clown sweater ever" and "having finished the most EPIC mini-clown sweater ever".

This might explain a lot about why I still haven't finished the 99%-finished Peacock Sweater. ;)

I could have finished the sweater on Friday, but I purposely set it aside and worked on something else.  I enjoyed the anticipation of the sleeves bubbling in my head.

So far, I've sewn in his white sleeves.  The red clown hair (the last step!) will be attached over the sleeve.  I'll probably finish it tonight at Crafting in Public.   ( ... sigh ... )

Here is a shot with my hand to show you just how tiny this guy is.  SO TINY!  I originally imagined knitting it out of embroidery floss so I could have a high stitch count for the clown face details, but I figured the floss would be splitty as all hell.

The next post about the clown will probably be the Big Reveal, so let me know what simmering questions you have about the sweater, its construction, etc. in the comments of this post and I'll incorporate the answers into that post.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Clown Sweater Progress

I've finished the embroidery on the face.  Now to do the hairy sleeves.