Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Tradition

Each Christmas since 1971, our first as a married couple, we have written a Christmas poem. In those early years it was an inexpensive way to give a present to our parents and nearly 20 siblings. Eventually it evolved into an annual tradition. This year I finally placed the poems online.

As Christmas rapidly approaches this year I wish . . .

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

Unto All
Heavenly choirs sang out with joy, proclaiming Jesus' birth
To shepherds watching o'er their sheep. They sang of peace on earth.
The startled shepherds hurried forth to Bethlehem to find
The baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Savior of mankind.

The joyous angel songs can now be sung by every voice.
The joy the shepherds felt can cause our own hearts to rejoice.
We too can fill the air with songs of praise to Christ our king.
We too can bow to honor him, to him our greetings bring.

We can fulfill the promised bliss of peace to men on earth.
We can esteem each child of God as one of precious worth.
With love and service to the least of these our fellow beings,
We render love and service to our Lord, the King of Kings.

by Robert and Rita Bartholomew
Christmas 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Advent Calendar

The last couple of weeks have been busy. I recently saw an advent calendar that I really liked and so proceeded to make a couple, one for me and one to give away to my oldest son and his family (we drew his family for Christmas). Since that one has been given away (received and displayed) it is now safe to show it. I still have the pattern and I may, over the next several years, make more to give to my other married children.

I like the way that Mary and Joseph travel a bit each day going from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

The shepherds and their sheep are also present.

And the stable has its manger filled with hay. Part of me says the star should not have been glued on but should have had Velcro attached to it so it could be placed above the stable on Christmas Eve. Oh well, maybe I can do that next time.

On the back is a small doll, wrapped in "swaddling clothes," waiting to be placed in the manger on Christmas Eve.

I also finished clipping my 3rd son's quilt and washed it once. Then I had to find all the holes in the seams where I had accidentally cut the thread. Now I just need to sew up those seams and wash it again. Then, after I take appropriate photos, I will present it to him. Only 6 months late.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quilt Progress

I finally finished sewing all the squares together for my son's high school graduation quilt.

The back and front are completely different - his choice.

Front is on the left. (reds)
Back is on the right. (blues)

The front has the raw edges which will be clipped into quarter-inch fringe.

The back looks more like a traditional patchwork quilt. The two diagonal lines I earlier sewed across each square create a diamond pattern across the entire back.

I have finished clipping in one direction (the columns); now I have to clip the other direction (the rows) and around the edges. It took me about 15 minutes to clip each column. When I tried to do two columns (one after the other) my thumb started to go numb and tingly. I guess that means it will take longer to complete cutting the quilt since I will have to do a little bit each day for several weeks instead of finishing it up in just a couple of days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Circular Net Shawl -- Finished!

It's done! And I like the way it turned out.

Actually the netting part has been done for a few weeks, but the blocking has been on hold while I created a blocking board . But once that was made I actually blocked the netting on Friday and wore it to church on Sunday.

The shawl will open out to a full circle, but when I tried to block it that way, I pulled too hard and snapped the double strand of yarn that held the center loops together. After I re-threaded them onto a doubled, double strand of yarn, I decided to fold it in half and block it that way, thereby putting less strain on the center.

If I were to try it again, and I probably will, I think I will use yarn that is heavier than the lace-weight I used this time and see how it works up with a thicker yarn.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Baby Gift Bag

Last week I was busily preparing to attend a baby shower this past weekend.

My standard gift for such events are three tea-towel bibs with ribbing at the neck. I received one years ago and loved it so much that I copied the bib to create my own pattern.

As you can probably tell, they are expecting a boy.

I also zig-zag around the edges of the small circle that is cut out. That creates small wash cloths the baby can hold.

This time also I decided to knit a small sweater and hat to accompany the bibs.

While I was finishing the hat I thought, "It's too bad that I don't have a gift bag to hold all of these items." About that time a light bulb went off in my mind and I knew what I would do -- NET a gift bag!

Of course it was impossible to use one of the bags I had already designed. My brain was already creating a new pattern.

I took the concept Alwen had used for the base of one of her net bags. However, I reversed what she did.

I started from the top of the bag with the handle and ended by decreasing to form the circular (well, actually a pentagon) base for the bag.

What really thrilled me was that the idea actually worked!

The only thing I would change would be to make the handle a couple of inches longer.

The ladies at the baby shower were impressed. One commented that the bag would be great for holding bath toys and another was heard to say, "... and she made everything, including the bag!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Net Bags for Knitting

A couple of weeks ago, while I was working on my sweater, I got very frustrated. Because the cable pattern is simple and appears once on each sleeve and once on each front and not at all on the back, I decided to try knitting all five sections at one time, from five different balls of yarn on one long circular needle. It was simple until the balls of yarn got tangled. I tried hard to keep the threads straight, but it was not working well.

As I was sitting working on the sweater, I found myself wishing I could run the knitting needle through each ball of yarn to keep it close to the section of the sweater it belonged to, even though I knew that would not work since the needle would interfere with the way the yarn was pulling from the skein.

Then it hit me. A net bag could hold the yarn and slide along the knitting needle right next to the section of the sweater that needed that skein of yarn.

So I took some brown waxed 1 mm cord I had been trying to find a use for and made a plain mesh bag.

When I saw that the idea seemed to work I made a second bag to check my pattern. I placed the yarn for the left front in one bag and the yarn for the right front in the other bag.

I decided that I wanted to try something a bit different for the sleeves.

So I chose some green 1 mm hemp cord I had recently purchased and made another bag. This time I used the eyelet or rose stitch.

Again I made a second bag to check out my pattern. Then I put the yarn for each sleeve into a bag and put the two bags on the circular knitting needle.

Now that I had a bag for the sleeves and the fronts, I thought I needed one to hold the yarn for the back.

For this bag I decided to use some #3 crochet thread. I thought I would try out a new stitch and chose ivy.

When the bag was finished, I placed the yarn for the back into the new bag. Since there is no need for a second bag I guess checking the pattern will have to wait.

So now I have all five skeins of yarn hanging onto my needle.

It may look strange, but it works just fine. No more tangled yarn!

Oh, yes. I have almost net the shawl back to the place where I had to cut off nine rows. I am currently three rows from the end.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Socks and Quilt

Some might think that no blog = nothing done on any projects. They would be wrong.

No blog = no time to take pictures or make blog entry.

My middle daughter has been helping me knit my first sock in years. I think I made two many years ago with worsted-weight. They were okay, but not great, so I did not start any more. Anyway, she has convinced me to try again. And earlier this month we were both at the same conference, so I brought my sock so she could talk me through the heel.

It was a great Time Out for Women, and I got the heel finished.

Progress has also been made on my 3rd son's high school graduation quilt. I know I'm slow, but progress is progress.

I have taken the 240 squares and made 120 sandwiches out of them.

I put a bluish print, a smaller batting square in the middle, and a red print in a pile, with the right sides facing out, and fastened them together with a pin. Now I get to sew an X (from corner to corner twice) on each square. That will fasten the batting to the top and bottom fabric.

Here are the squares with the bluish side up

and now the same squares with the red side up.

I have also worked on the net shawl (including cutting off 9 rows when I was 2 rows from the end -- stupid mistake that did not show up until then), and the sweater. Now I need to go watch the Red Sox in the World Series. I still hope to get something finished before the series is done.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Progress on Projects

I have been busy these past few days on a number of different projects. I just did not have the time (take the time) to document what was happening until tonight.

I have made progress on two quilts. I cut 240 nine inch squares for one quilt (back and front).

One of these groups will be the back and the other will be the front.

The squares will be paired with a back and a front with the batting in the middle.

The next step is to cut the batting into seven inch squares -- 120 squares to be precise.

The other quilt will be a map of middle earth. I am having the map blown up to 54" by 45" and then plan to transfer it to the quilt using iron-on transfers. Now I need to get the blank transfer paper.

I have progressed on the sweater. I have done the the ribbing and about 2 inches up from the ribbing. I am knitting all the parts at the same time.

When I am not knitting on the sweater, it is hanging in one of the net bags I finished recently.

Of course I worked on the net shawl. I decided to add eight additional rows before the border. At this point I have finished one and a half of those eight.

And finally, I wanted to do something quick, so I took a few minutes to check the directions of the crisscross bookmark.

I wonder, by the end of the World Series, which of these projects will be completed. Anyone care to make a guess?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Progress on the net shawl

I worked on the shawl a bit longer than the baseball game and finished round 13. By the time I got to the middle of round 14 I decided it was too late to finish it, so I quit and went to bed.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Starting a new sweater and a net shawl

I really want to make a net antimacassar to go with my newly re-upholstered couch. The problem is that the yarn I want to use was originally purchased to make a sweater. There should be plenty of yarn for both, but I need to make the sweater first. I had requested the instructions from a knitting friend and want to show her I can follow through and complete the sweater. So this week I began.

I spent much of a two hour meeting I needed to attend with my daughter getting started. This is what it looked like at the end of the meeting.

I started at the very beginning with a gauge swatch using size 8 needles (size called for in the pattern). That swatch was way too big.

So I tried size 6. Still too large.

I thought surely size 5 needles would bring the swatch to the proper size, but no. It was not to be.

Eventually I was able to get the correct gauge on size 4 needles.

And that is why I hate trying to figure out my gauge for knitting. Of course I have to do it. Can you imagine how the sweater would have fit if I had not gone through all that. I don't even want to think about it.

I decided to knit all the sections (back, fronts, and sleeves) at the same time. I just finished the ribbing today and began the first few rows of the cable pattern.

I also began working on the circular net shawl. I'm in the middle of round 10 and hope to finish that round and maybe two more during the last of the Red Sox ballgame. Maybe I will have a picture of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Net Shawl - Circular

I think I have decided which doily pattern I will use to try to make a shawl. I called the doily Luminescence.

We'll see where this experiment goes. My thought is to at least double the size of each mesh stick and see how it looks. That should bring the diameter of of the shawl from 20 inches to about 40 inches. I may have to add a few more rows. I think I'll use the yarn I had left over from Mystery Stole 3. Hope I have enough.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Two more bags - top down

I came down with my annual fall cold the end of last week. Unfortunately it affected my thought processes as I started the handles for my new bag. I wanted to try to work a bag from handles down. I'm sure I thought hard about it - 2 handles with 12 loops in each handle should equal 24 loops around the bag - right?

I did not notice my mistake until I had both handles done and connected, and had done 3 rounds.

It suddenly dawned on me that I was going around on more than 24 loops.

I blame it on my cold. What I had was 2 handles with 12 loops (on each end of the handle) equal to 48 loops. What I had wanted was 6 loops on each handle.

Oh, well, I didn't want to waste the time I had already put into the bag (not to mention the time I would take to undo all the knots and make the bag the way I thought I was), so I just figured I'd make a large string bag.

It is nice and roomy. I decided though that 12 loops for handles is too many. It is hard to find the handles from the rest of the bag.

Since I had 48 loops instead of the 24 I had wanted, I decreased the number of loops to 24 in the next to last round.

For the final round I used a hard plastic ring as the mesh stick. I wrapped the string through the loop, then net 1 knot in the next loop and repeated the process around all 24 loops. This formed a grommet at the bottom of the bag.

I decided to try again for a 24 loop bag. This time I got the numbers of the handles correct -- 2 handles, 6 loops at each end of the handle equals 24 loops.

I tried to do a grommet without the plastic ring, but that did not work. So I decided to join the loops in the final round to each other without using a mesh stick. This actually formed two corners at the bottom of the bag. If you look carefully you can see the two points where the corners form.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Net Bag with circle of netting for the bottom

I've decided that netting bags can be addictive. I finish one and have the idea for more pop into my head.

After I had finished the two net bags with net handles I wondered about the bottom of the bag being a net circle instead of a grommet. I decided to make this bag also an experiment in mesh size.

So I used a #8 knitting needle (1/4" mesh stick) and size #10 crochet threat and created my circle.

After making the circle I began netting around the edges of the circle until I had the bag the size I wanted.
(This photo shows the bag after 3 rounds of netting.)

If you look very carefully you can see the tiny white thread that goes around the center of the circle. I used if for a foundation loop once I started going around the circle. It is removed after the bag is done.

I also decided to make this with spiral netting. Spiral netting is where you just net around and around as opposed to stopping at the end of each row and finishing it off completely.

After I had the bag the size I wanted, I net back and forth on half of the loops until I had a strip of netting twice as long as I wanted the handle to be.

Then I joined the last row of the handle to the loops that were still available on the last row of the bag and I had a bag to hold the stamps I use in teaching piano lessons.

One added advantage is that the handle will slip through a belt or waist-pack strap. That means I can wear the bag and not leave it when I travel from lesson to lesson (like I did last week).

Like I said at the beginning, string bags are addictive. I have already started the next bag -- top down with handles being done first.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More net circles

Well, actually one more circle. I had a few minutes this afternoon and decided to make the 440 knot circle. I used a 1/4" mesh (aka a dowel equivalent to a US #8 knitting needle) instead of a 3/8" mesh stick. This time the circle, well, more of a square with rounded edges, was small enough to fit on my scanner.

The diameter is about 6 inches. Amazing what will happen to the size when I change the mesh stick by 1/8". The diameter went from about 10 inches to 6 inches over the 31 rows.

Now I can get started on the small bag I want to make to hold the stamps I use when teaching piano lessons. I think I will use spiral netting this time. Spiral netting is where I go around and around and have no clue or need to know where each round ends. When the bag is long enough, I will start the handles. This is different from the usual circular netting I do where each round is finished with a CK (connecting or collecting knot) that brings each round to a definite end.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Circles with Diamond Mesh Netting

Another project gets completed!!! Today I finished 3 couch cushion covers and was able to stuff the cushions into the covers. They fit!! Under the supervision of the mother of one of my piano students, my youngest daughter has been re-upholstering our couch as a Young Women Personal Progress Project. I told my daughter that I would help her by doing the cushion covers. Now she needs to finish a bit of hand sewing and the couch will be done. It looks great and I am so proud of my daughter and the skills she has learned.

I have also been looking at net circles trying to decide which to use as the bottom of the next string bag I am planning to make.

This one has 1,228 knots with 64 loops around the edge of the circle.

This one has 634 knots with 48 loops around the edge of the circle.

This one has only 123 knots and has 24 loops around the edge of the circle. Because of the small number of knots this one looks the least like a circle, but put it at the bottom of a net bag, use a 1" instead of a 3/8" mesh, and no one will know what it looked like before the bag sides were added.

I also made a circle with 440 knots that had 46 loops around the edge of the circle. But, because I made it with a 3/8" mesh stick, it was too large to scan. Actually, I think that this is the circle I will probably make, although I will most likely use a #8 double pointed knitting needle as the mesh stick and some size 10 crochet thread. I need a small bag to hold the stamps I use when teaching piano lessons. However, due to the lateness of the hour and commitments already made, I will have to wait until Monday or Tuesday afternoon to try making the circle and the bag.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Net Bags with Netted Handles

The kids are all back in school. That should mean more time to do what I want to do. Well . . . I did find some time to make a couple of new net bags. I saw some examples of net bags with net handles, and decided to try it myself. Thanks to suggestions from Lily, Barry, and Tony, I succeeded. I think I have a new favorite bag.

You might say I started backward since the first bag I tried had two handles. It had a grommet at the base of the bag and was worked from the base of the bag up. The handles were done last. I used a 1" mesh stick.

After I got the two handles bag finished, I decided to make a bag with a single handle. Here I also used a grommet at the base of the bag and worked upward. I did change the mesh stick to a 3/4" mesh stick.

This one can be used several ways, such as on the shoulder,

across the back, or wrapped around one hand to keep it from dragging on the ground.

If I were going to wear it across my back, I would probably want to make the handle about 4 to 6 inches longer.

I was surprised at how easy the handle was on my hand. It did not cut into my hand and I could not feel the knots.

Now I can't stop thinking of different variations on these bags. I want to try one with a flat circle as the base and one with a square for the base. I also want to make one top down starting with the handles. I might also try using crochet thread instead of string.