My current work in progress:

1. Woodfords, designed by Elizabeth Doherty, knit from Madelinetosh Merino Light in the "paper" colorway on U.S. size 3, 5, and 7 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Now This Rocks!

When I got home from work this afternoon, there was a package from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.
“How odd,” I thought. “I don’t remember ordering any Socks That Rock recently.”

I opened it up and look what was inside!

str081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

Can’t read the colorway name on the label? Here’s a close-up:

strlabel081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

It’s a colorway inspired by Lucy! There was a note enclosed from Tina, Blue Moon Dyer Extraordinaire, saying that my fairy godmother had wished for this colorway. And I understand there might be more available if you contact Blue Moon . . .

There will be no living with Lucy now!

lucy081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

Some Noni Notes

Thank you for all the lovely comments on the Noni Baguette. I am very pleased with it!

How I did the finishing:

By the way, except for where noted, I did all the sewing by hand. After doing some machine stitching on the first Noni bag, I decided that handsewing was the way to go — far easier to execute, looks better, but longer to achieve.

First, I folded grosgrain ribbon in half lengthwise and stitched it together on the machine. I cut two long lengths and inserted them into the bag at the points where the handle loops were needed. I took one piece of ribbon and carefully sewed it down along the inside of the bag, with the ends sticking up on each side. The I folded down the excess and sewed it to itself on the inside to form the loop on each side.

noniloops081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

So at each end of the bag, the loops on either side of the zipper are fashioned from one long continuous piece of ribbon sewed down onto the bag on the inside. I think this will give it extra strength while being carried — the tension on the loop will not be concentrated on one spot where it is sewed to the bag, but be distributed all the way around.

Then I put little brass purse feet on the bottom.

Then I sewed in the zipper. There was much cursing at this stage of the process.

I pinned the closed zipper into the top opening, then opened it to carefully to sew it into place. The top opening of this bag isn’t as perfect as the previous bag, because of the stripes of color, which made the edge slightly uneven. Still, it isn’t too bad.

nonizipper081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

After sewing in one side of the zipper (taking tiny, hopefully invisible, stitches), I zipped it up to make sure it looked okay. I then unzipped and sewed the other side. Then I exhaled the breath I was holding in throughout the entire process.

I ordered the custom-length zipper from zippersource.com. I’ve used them in the past and have no problems at all with their zippers — always perfect. Their shipping is a tad slow — I think instead of mailing things they must drop-kick them to their destination. Or maybe I’m too picky.

Onward. Time to line the bag.

In-between the lining and the bag, I used a very stiff interfacing, this one, to be exact.

The baguette is rounded, it doesn’t have a flat bottom.

(Okay I’m wondering what kind of Google searches will find this blog entry since I’ve used the phrases “very stiff” and “flat bottom.” Just sayin’.)

So I cut a rectangle of interfacing and fitted it into the bag to make the tube shape. I pinned the long edges in place along the top opening and then tacked it to the bag in a few places, using sewing thread that matched the pale pink of the bag. I only tacked the interfacing to portions of the bag that are pale pink. (See how clever I am? Rocket scientist, I tell you.)

I cut lining in a rectangle, and fitted it to the inside of the bag, pinning the top edge along the underside of the zipper tape.

Then I cut two circles of interfacing for the ends of the bag and covered them in lining material and shoved them into place in the bag.

It was at this point that it occurred to me that there was no way in hell that I would be able to sew the lining inside the bag unless I turned the whole thing inside out. I took the two circles out, and turned the bag inside out.

I must tell you how entertaining it is to attempt to turn a thickly felted tube lined with an extremely heavy interfacing inside out while there is a very furry cat pacing and twirling in your lap, head-butting your hand so you will put down what you are doing and pet her.

I feared for the life of the zipper, but got the &*)%#!^$ thing turned inside out. I pinned the lining-covered ends to the ends of the bag, tucking the edges of the body-lining underneath the circle, and then sewed the whole lining together and to the bag.

And turned it back right-side out, holding my breath all the while that I didn’t seriously f— it up somehow in the meantime.

The bag looked a little crunky at this point. The interfacing was NOT amused at its mistreatment and the circles at the ends were reluctant to sit quietly at the ends where they were supposed to. However, I punched and pummelled and battered the poor thing mercilessly, and suddenly the interfacing popped back into its proper shape, and the circles settled into the ends of the back with nary a whimper.

nonilining081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

All that remained was to attach the handles. The hardware is very cool — there’s a little bar that you slip through the hole in the bamboo and then screw into the other side of the hardware. Fortunately I have a wee tiny screwdriver, so was able to accomplish this.

screw081006 Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

So there you have it. How I finished my Noni bag. And lived to tell about it.

And of course I’m going to make another bag. I was going to make the Medium Carpet Bag, but I changed my mind. I’m going to attempt a “Noni Knock-off” and more or less design it myself. We’ll see how that goes.

noniknockoff Now <i>This</i> Rocks!

I’ve also got an idea for another perverse item that I need to knit up.

So as you can see, it will be a full weekend indeed!

A Very Good Yarn

I recently received a review copy of this book.

knittingnell080906 A Very Good Yarn

Knitting Nell, written and illustrated by Julie Jersild Roth. It’s recommended for children age 5 – 8 years old. The hardcover book is 32 pages long and is illustrated with full-color watercolors by the author.

I sat down to read it last night and was utterly charmed by it. It’s the story of a shy little girl, Nell, who sits and knits and listens to others, but never says very much. She quietly knits items for other people, and is eventually recognized for her charitable good works, and also finds her voice as she teaches her friends to knit.

Now at the best of times I’m a cranky old bitch, but I actually felt some tears welling up as I finished reading this story — it was just so danged sweet. It also has a nice message about doing good for other people and how rewarding that can be — but it doesn’t cram the moral down your throat.

The illustrations are adorable, and they are plentiful. There are many full-page pictures, and some pages with a number of small, captioned, pictures.

I think this would be a wonderful book to read with a very small child who is interested in learning to knit, or to give to slightly older knitters to read on their own, and then discuss with them later.

Julie, the author, has a website with more information about the book, and a link to The Good Scarf Project website, a charitable project that would be great for children. Go there and read all about it!

Sock Pic!

Per a comments request, the inside of my sock’s picot edge:

sock080906 A Very Good Yarn

I did not cast off, but sewed the loops of the live stitches together with the back of a row of stitches on the inside of the sock

A Dilemma

I had a choice: clean up my home, or complete the finishing work on my Noni Baguette. What to do, what to do . . .

Yeah, I know I’m not kidding anyone.

baguette080906 A Very Good Yarn

And here it is, posing with its little brother:

nonis080906 A Very Good Yarn

And here it is open, to show off my mad sewing-in-the-lining skillz:

noniopen080906 A Very Good Yarn

Lucy says:

lucy080906 A Very Good Yarn

“Sheesh!”

Back to the Socks

I finished the Ingrid’s Blues socks yesterday. Alert the media!

ingridsblues080806 Back to the Socks

To recap, these were made using my generic toe-up pattern with feather and fan on the leg. You may recall that I wrote this up into a pattern (pdf format) a little while back. The yarn is Claudia Hand Painted Yarns in the “Ingrid’s Blues” colorway. I used 2mm (US 0) needles.

I also finished the first of the Kool-Aid socks.

koolaidsock080806 Back to the Socks

I did a plain stockinette sock with a picot edge at the top.

koolaidsock080806a Back to the Socks

So I guess I will go ahead and make the second one. This sock is not really “me,” but if we ever again have a snowstorm in DC, I’ll be sure and wear these socks as a touch of summer during said snowstorm.

So there.

By the way, in the interests of enabling you into purchasing sock yarn, here are a few online shops from whom I have purchased sock yarn:

kpixie — I love Jessica and Missa! They have great stuff on their site — including Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. Ahem. I note that they currently have the lime green purse handles for Noni bags in stock, too. I’ve always had extremely fast service from kpixie — what’s not to like?

Carodan Farm — have you seen their new online store? Awesome! I am a longtime customer of Carodan. They also carry Hand Painted Yarns, along with a wide variety of other sock yarns. And other great yarns as well. Their own “house” brand of yarn is a killer deal — aran weight wool in a beautiful array of colors for a very low price.

Simply Sock Yarn Company has a wide array of sock yarns — including Fleece Artist. They also carry Interlacements Tiny Toes. Just sayin’.

And a new shop — The Loopy Ewe, run by “Sheri in St. Louis” from my comments. icon smile Back to the Socks Sheri also has Hand Painted Yarns, Schaeffer Anne, Cherry Tree Hill, among others. And more yarns on the way!

So many great places to buy sock yarn . . .

I picked up my Log Cabin blanket last night and did a few rows, but I was too warm with the blanket draped over me, so I quickly went back to knitting a sock. Funny, in summers past I never had problems knitting with wool in the summer, but the advancement of middle age (sigh) is wreaking havoc with my internal thermostat. Small projects that don’t actually touch any part of me are far more do-able right now.

I do realize that time marches on, but does it have to march so relentlessly over me? (No need to answer that.)

Anyhow . . .

Thank you so much for all your nice comments about the Noni bag! I am pretty stinking pleased with it, I must say, even though it did involve sewing. Ew, sewing.

Leslie asked:
I’m mad for the Noni patterns and your bag is divine. But do you think it really requires lining? (Like you, I loathe picking up a needle and thread.)

Sadly (considering how I feel about sewing), my answer is yes, I do think it really requires lining.

When I was doing the finishing on my bag, I noticed how easy it was to poke the prongs of the feet through the felted fabric, and it crossed my mind how easy it would be for something sharp and pointy (like a knitting needle or a ballpoint pen) to poke through the felted fabric as well. Interfacing and lining can help thwart this.

And a pretty lining really adds something to the bag, too. I love the silk dupioni I used to line my Noni bag.

Even though it involves sewing (hey — did I mention that I loathe sewing?), I think putting a lining in a felted bag is totally worth the hassle.

I think my next Noni will be a medium carpet bag.

But in the meantime, I started some more sewing.

noni080806 Back to the Socks

Ew, sewing.

Lucy seems impressed, no?

lucy080806 Back to the Socks

In the Sculpture Garden

Yesterday afternoon I finally sucked it up and did all the finishing on my “In the Sculpture Garden” Noni bag.

The first thing I did was to put brass feet on the bottom of the bag.

nonifeet080706 In the Sculpture Garden

You can buy little purse feet many places — I got mine off eBay. They have little prongs sticking up from the feet. You poke them through the fabric of the bag, and then flatten them out on the inside of the bag to hold the feet in place.

Then I cut a length of the lining material and folded it triple and pressed it and stitched it into loops to attach the handles to the bag.

noniloop080706 In the Sculpture Garden

I machine stitched the ends of the loops to the inside of the bag in two places — no small feat, stitching through the felted bag. The machine stitching really doesn’t show hardly at all on the outside of the bag, I’m pleased to say.

nonistitch080706 In the Sculpture Garden

I then sewed a flower and a couple of leaves on the outside. I decided on just one flower on one side of the bag, accented by two leaves.

noniflower080706 In the Sculpture Garden

Then I cut a piece of cardboard the size of the bottom of the bag, covered it in the lining material, and shoved it inside the bag.

nonibottom080706 In the Sculpture Garden

I cut lining to fit around the inside of the bag and pinned it in place, then hand sewed it in place to the top of the bag, and to the edges of the bottom piece of lining covering the cardboard.

nonilining080706 In the Sculpture Garden

While I was sewing the lining in place, I attached a magnetic snap closure to each side. The magnetic snap is similar in construction to the brass feet — same little prongs that you fold out flat after poking them through the fabric. In this case, I had to carefully pre-poke a hole in the lining with the point of my scissors before sticking the prongs through.

nonisnap080706 In the Sculpture Garden

As I sewed the lining down to the edge of the bag, I carefully stitched (using tiny stitches) all the way around the snap all the way through the side of the felted bag to the outside, to anchor the snap securely in place. I did take little tiny stitches so they don’t show on the right side of the bag.

So there you have it — a finished Noni bag.

noni080706 In the Sculpture Garden

While doing this, I was reminded that I really loathe sewing. The Noni bags are extraordinarily cute and the knitting is fun, but man oh man, do I ever hate the finishing bits!

I got my zipper for the Noni baguette in the mail over the weekend, so I suppose at some point in the near future I’ll suck it up and do the finishing on that bag as well.

As you can see, Lucy is jazzed!

lucy080706 In the Sculpture Garden

Sock Musings

I’ve been thinking lately about why it is that I like to knit socks so much. And simple socks at that.

For the most part, I prefer “challenging knitting” over plain stockinette.I think cables, fair isle, and lace are far more entertaining than plain ol’ stockinette stitch. So why do I like simple socks so much?

Several years ago I started to knit socks. This occurred shortly after the “self-striping” and “fair isle” sock yarns first burst upon the market. I found these yarns immensely entertaining and knit a bunch of them. I did knit some non-striping yarns into socks, but was bored by them.

Fast forward to this past spring, when I took up knitting socks again. I’ve focused almost exclusively on handpainted yarn for socks.

I love handpainted yarn. However, it’s not always great for a sweater. I know that, yet sometimes I persist in making a sweater from a handpaint. I’m not sure why I do this, because I’m never terribly excited by the results. But the yarn is so danged pretty!

But socks! The perfect project for handpainted yarn. I don’t care if they don’t match each other exactly. I love watching the colors pool and stripe and swirl as I knit them. And because I usually increase stitches for the leg of the sock, the colors do something completely different there.

Look, for example, at my Ingrid’s Blues sock:

sock080606 Sock Musings

The foot is 64 stitches around, and the feather and fan leg is 72 stitches around.

There are so many beautiful handpainted sock yarns out there now. Some of my favs: Socks That Rock, Fleece Artist Merino, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Interlacements Tiny Toes, and Claudia’s Handpainted. I’ve been making a concerted effort to sample as many handpainted sock yarns as possible over the past few months.

As I mentioned in a comment on Brigitte’s blog last week, if I were comparing my knitting to reading, the fair isles, arans, and lace are like reading Jane Austen. The feather and fan socks are like reading trashy detective novels. Both have their places in my world.

Thanks for weighing in on the Kool-Aid sock. I’ve decided to keep on knitting it, to give it a chance. icon smile Sock Musings

And just for you, Suzie, here is Teddy modelling the sock toe.

sip080606 Sock Musings

I decided to continue:

sip080606a Sock Musings

And Teddy modelled the second Ingrid’s Blues sock:

sip080606b Sock Musings

In the meantime, Lucy waits for dinner.

lucy080606 Sock Musings