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Pretty Teal Shawl

I started knitting this shawlravelry-round in February, using yarn I bought during San Diego Comic Con last year. The pattern is Dianna, and the yarn is a discontinued colorway of Zitron Filigran– long color repeats that were exactly what I wanted for this entrelac lace shawl.

For the record, I have had this shawl in my queue for about 5 years. I have also tried to start it several times before giving up.

I finished it yesterday!

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I added a modified feather-and-fan border to “pull it together” and finished with about 5 yards of yarn to spare.

It’s a lovely blue-teal, which will go very nicely with the blue infinity dress I made last month:

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More details about the pattern, needles, progress photos, etc. are in the Ravelry link above.

Next up: the Kim Harrison dragon knit-along and a traveling project for Indiana.

3 Easy Patterns if You Don’t Want to Knit a Dragon

So, I’m going to jump on the Dragon Knit-Along over on Kim Harrison’s blog, and a few friends have commented that their skills aren’t up to the task.

First, let me say: nonsense. The point of a KAL is to be able to get help and ask questions as you go. Kim Harrison is obviously planning to go nice and slow with this project, so you can learn as you go along.

Second: Stuffed animals are a great beginner knit, because the gauge doesn’t matter, and you’re usually knitting tons of stockinette, only focusing on the shaping of the piece. But even if you are way off and everything is lopsided and weird… it will still be awesome. I have knitted and sewn some truly deranged-looking stuffed animals in my time. The main trick is to get the eyes "right." Everything else pretty much falls into place. If the eyes are a little derpy, that’s fine, too.

Third: OK, say you really really just can’t do it. Shaping is beyond you. You have too much going on right now to learn something. You are daunted. That’s fine. Here are three  free, adorable stuffed animal patterns you can knit this month to be part of the KAL and still have fun:

Bunny: A great project for felting, this project is done by knitting a big rectangle and then folding it. It’s ori-yarni, really. Super easy, super cute. You can knit it in garter or stockinette, as you prefer.

Knitten: This was the first thing I ever knitted– a knitted kitten I then gave to Alladin. He still plays with it sometimes. Knitted flat in 3 pieces, all garter stitch (that means all knit stitches, no purls), and very little increase/decreases (just the tail, actually).

Grumpasaurus: This is knit in the round (stockinette) with some shaping. The ridge teaches you a picot stitch. The tail carries most of the weight of the project. It’s basically an egg with a tail and a couple of stubby legs.

For any of these projects, you will need:

  • Yarn, about 1 ball, maybe 2 if you are using bulky yarn.
  • Needles to get a night tight gauge for the yarn. You don’t want it to be super stretchy or holey when you stretch it.
  • A bag of polyfill stuffing
  • A yarn needle to stitch things up
  • Either craft eyes, a pair of buttons, or contrasting yarn you can use to embroider eyes onto your creature. The Grumpasaurus is the only one that really needs a face in order to be recognizable– the kitty and bunny are fairly identifiable even without eyes.

Vignette is Done, with a little extra bit

I finished Vignette!

I finished knitting on Saturday night and stayed up a bit late to soak and block the pieces:

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Yesterday, I was kind of anxious to do the stitching up, so when it turned out that the Sunday game had more than enough players, I opted out and headed home.

On the way, I had some inspiration, though. See, Vignette is a lovely sweater, but… I wanted just a touch more to it. I stopped at the fabric store with some inspiration and bought something to match the buttons I already had.

These vintage buttons (40 cents for a card of 3 buttons!) had yellowed a bit over time, to what I’d call "light champagne."

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See those lace ribs along the front of the sweater? The ribs that also grace the sleeves?

A little bit of ribbon to match the buttons, and suddenly, they’re quite "the thing," don’t you think

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It looks just as good buttoned up as unbuttoned:

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Side view, no ribbons on the sleeves. I’ll decide some other time if I want to add them.

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Back view. Nothing much special, here, except I might have to undo the collar. I think the ribbed collar vertical gauge doesn’t match the back horizontal gauge (which is expected), and the collar is kind of rippling at the back. So I might undo that center seam, rip back a bit, and re-do that section, removing about 4 rows of the back collar and nudging it around until it fits.

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Vignette is into the third trimester

I am in the "third trimester" of knitting Vignette.

Long-sleeved sweaters can be broken down in thirds or even sixths. The back uses about one third of your yarn, the front uses another third, and both sleeves together use the last third. So when you finish the back of a pieced sweater, you are roughly one-third done with the sweater.

That’s not 100% true, of course. Some sweaters have more work on the back or front or sleeves. Short sleeves are less yarn. Some sweaters just confound you.

But Vignette is a nice sweater that isn’t giving me too much trouble and falls rather nicely into the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 model. I’ve used 5 and a half balls of yarn so far, and expect to use a total of 6.5 total. The yarn is Cascade superwash 220, which are 220 yards per ball (convenient labeling, there, Cascade!)

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I have picked out the buttons. They are plain pearl-like flat buttons that fit nicely through the buttonholes. They are made by Fruit of the Loom sometime back in the days best described as "vintage." They were made in New York state, and probably date back to the 1960’s. My mother gave them to me a couple of years ago when my button box was stolen out of a car (there are no button-junkies in Las Vegas that I know of– the button box was inside a craft bag that looked more or less like a purse… because my craft bags are, in fact, purses I buy at the thrift store.)

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Inheriting buttons and other sewing supplies from your parents and grandparents is actually a really special thing. Some time I’ll talk about that, but for now, let’s just say that, whether you make something with fiber or not, giving it to the next generation is a legacy that should not be understated.

This is sleeve #1:

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I made a change to the pattern. In the interest of making the pattern simpler for newer knitters, this pattern uses a basic cast on and knit 1" of the hem using a smaller needle, switch to the regular needle, purl a turning row, and then proceed in pattern. During the sewing-up, you fold the hem under and stitch it closed.

That’s a perfectly respectable way to turn a hem, but it’s not the "most proper" way to do it, which would have required two additional techniques, and would have made Vignette a more difficult pattern. The pattern as written is lovely and will do nice things for anyone knitting it.

The "more proper" way to turn a hem is to cast on with a provisional cast-on (I used a crochet cast on, because I am very comfortable with crochet), knit 1" in stockinette, switch needles, purl 1 row, knit 1" (3 rows) in the pattern, and then, on the wrong side of the knitting, work one stitch from the working needle and one stitch from the provisional cast on stitches together all the way across. At that point, the hem is turned under and done– and there’s one less thing to do during the seaming up.

This is sleeve #2:

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Note that the hem (which is currently curling in this photo) is already turned and knitted in. Go me!

At my current pace, with the upcoming things and events, I hope to be done by Thanksgiving, and definitely before the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

Which is good, because Vegas is getting chilly. It’s been 60 degrees this week!

Bribery and Dinosaurs

About 5 months ago, I was looking at going to GenCon, and I really really really wanted to see if my online gamer friends would like to meetup there. The same guys who participate in the Grinding Ice, Moving Forward, and Space Race campaigns. My Tuesday night crew. My gamer friends.

You see, aside from Daniel (GM for Space Race, Ordune in Moving Forward), whose brother is a friend of mine here in Vegas, I haven’t met any of these guys. Alex (Tris in Moving Forward, Vor-Kai in Grinding Ice) lives in New York. Steve (Captain Ryan Steele in Space Race, GM for Moving Forward, Hrothgar in Grinding Ice) is in Minneapolis. And Tyler (Alain in Space Race. Firiel in Moving Forward, Much-Abused GM of Grinding Ice) is about one mountain over from my in-laws near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I love the in-person interaction, and I really want to Make This Happen.

Continue reading Bribery and Dinosaurs

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