Alive & Knitting on the Move

As mentioned previously, I’m in the process of dividing my blog posts. All the knitting, sewing and Fibre Friday posts will now live on their own blog, Alive & Knitting. Book stuff will remain here.

All the posts aren’t moved yet, but there are enough to make it worth having the new blog public. I’ll delete posts from here as they move over there. I still want to build some other parts of that site, but moving the posts (and pictures) is my first priority. Unfortunately, comments can’t be moved, so I apologize if your comments have vanished. Please feel free to post them again!

Visit Alive & Knitting!

Disappearing Posts

If you like to cruise my posts about knitting and quilting, you’ll start to find some bad links. I’ve decided to move all of my crafty posts to their own blog, to improve the SEO of this site. Pictures of my knitting don’t, after all, have much to do with my books.

There’s a lot to transfer so I’ll give you the new url of the new blog after the transition is done. I’m also deleting posts after they’re moved, so I can keep track of my progress, so posts will be disappearing here, too. They’ll all turn up over there once I’m done. I’m starting with the oldest posts and am up to 2009 so it might be a while before you notice any missing posts.

I’m also correcting the blog links on my Ravelry project pages as I go, since some of them haven’t been fixed since the last time I moved the blog – the whole thing was moved from delacroix.net to this site about ten years ago. Pam helped me do that automatically, which I think was possible because it was the whole blog. This time, it’s all by hand, cherrypicking through it all.

The disappointing thing about moving blog posts is that the comments don’t transfer. I apologize to you for that. I’ll let you know when it’s done. 🙂

A Tale of Three Socks

Toe-up socks knit in Estelle Sock Twins by Deborah CookeSocks, socks, socks. I need socks this fall and have been casting them on for myself, but my efforts have been disappointing. Here’s the first one – I’m sufficiently unimpressed by it that it doesn’t have a partner yet.

The yarn is Estelle’s Sock Twins and I bought it because of the gradient colour. This colourway is called Sunset. It’s packaged with two balls like the one shown – the second (obviously) has been knitted into that sock. I knit it toe-up because I wanted to use the whole gradient. I cast on with the yellow in the middle of the ball, then began alternating stripes with the navy from the other end.

I didn’t love the yarn as it was splitty. And I remembered that I really don’t enjoy knitting socks toe-up. (Actually, what I like about knitting socks is that I don’t have to think about my familiar pattern. In contrast, I have to follow the instructions for toe-up socks.) I knit the sock first without stripes and didn’t love how it looked, so I frogged it back and started again. The pattern I was using had a short-row heel, which I didn’t love either, so I frogged it back after I’d turned that heel. I feel like I’ve already knitted a pair of socks in this yarn and I probably have.

Because I did four rows of yellow before starting the navy, it worked out that the heel would be navy instead of yellow. Hmm. I’m not sure I love that.

Now I have to decide whether to make the second sock the same, or the other way around, with a navy toe and yellow-orange heel.

Cuff-down socks knit in Fleece Artist Cottage Socks by Deborah CookeIn the meantime, I treated myself to a skein of nice squishy Fleece Artist yarn. This is my usual cuff-down sock pattern, the one I have memorized. The yarn is Cottage Sock and the colourway is Vintage. I love Fleece Artist yarns and colours—the hardest thing is always making a choice!—and even better, they’re in Canada. (This isn’t the 100-mile yarn diet because the Maritimes are farther away from me than that, but it’s still kind of buying local.) The colourway did a spiralling pooling thing, but since both socks are the same, I’m good with that. I love these socks!

I also indulged in some sock yarn from Biscotte Yarns in Quebec. Mini-Metamorph is a gradient-dyed sock yarn, which comes in two balls, much like the Sock Twins above. The colours are gorgeous—you can see them on their website here. I ordered Tropical Lavender. The yarn is squishy soft.

My plan was to knit this pattern, the Meta-Morph sock, which has a chevron pattern. I kept mucking up the pattern stitch and having to pick it back, only to discover that after I turned the heel, the sock was too snug for me. I wish I’d taken a picture. It was a pretty sock. It just didn’t fit me.

Sock knit in Biscotte Yarns Mini-Metamorph by Deborah CookeYou know what happened next. I frogged it back and cast on again in my usual cuff-down pattern. I added a stripe, an unbalanced one this time to try to keep the contrast high for the whole sock. I guessed when to turn the heel, hoping to use most or all of the yarn, but it’s clear now that I turned too soon for that. I’m not frogging it again. I’ll just figure out what to do with the yummy leftover (red) bit.

Here’s the first sock:

I have the same question again: should I make a matching pair, or should I knit the second one in reverse? It would start with deep red with purple stripes which would look good. Hmm.

At least I have one new pair of finished socks!

Additions to the Herd

I haven’t talked about my vintage sewing machines for a while, but there are two new girls in the herd, and I thought I’d show them off today.

First, there’s a Singer Stylist 457:

Singer Stylist 457

This one was quite clean, although I want to refinish its box. It was made in St. John’s, Quebec, in 1961. Here’s a bit on that plant, which opened in 1904 and was closed in 1986. The Stylist isn’t a machine with a fabulous reputation, because its gears are plastic, as you can see on this page on the Singer UK site. Since it was in good shape, though, and a zigzag machine, and just $10, home it came to join the herd. That button in front is to drop the feed dogs, which is cool, too.

Then, I found this Pfaff 360:
This picture is from its arrival here, and you can see that it was pretty dirty. I think someone was a smoker. It ran well, though, and is very clean inside, as if it was well maintained. I like that it has a similar free arm design to my old Elnas. The serial number indicates that it was built in 1959.

This one didn’t have all the goodies with it – in fact, it needed a new bobbin case – but it ran beautifully and was only $20 so it joined the herd, too. I have another Pfaff, a Pfaff 30, which is in a wooden cabinet. It’s a sturdy machine that sews a straight stitch.

I haven’t shown you the herd for a while, so here are (most of) the girls.

First, my Elnas. The first green one is called a Grasshopper. This was the first Elna design and was in production from 1940 to 1952. It was intended to compete with the Singer Featherweight and is a light little machine. That thing coming out the front right is a knee lever.Elna Grasshopper Sewing Machine

Next is a Supermatic from 1954 and then (the taupe one) another Supermatic from 1956. These two have little doors on the top, which are for cams for decorative stitches. They both have their original cases, which can be used to create a larger sewing surface – you can see how that cut-out fits around the free arm of the machine. The taupe one has the original Bakelite box for bobbins and accessories. It slides under the free arm when you pack it all away.Elna Supermatic from 1954 Elna Supermatic from 1959
Then there’s a Hugin, which is a similar machine that was made in Sweden. This one sadly hasn’t done any sewing, because it needs a belt and I haven’t found one the right length yet. It’s also a straight stitch machine. I just like that it’s named after one of Odin’s ravens. (I blogged about it once before in this post.)Hugin sewing machine

Next are the Singer machines: first a cute little 185K. (I don’t have a picture of my Featherweight – it’s just a plain black one.) My 185 was made in Scotland in 1958. That box in front is a buttonholer. I like that the box matches the machine so well.

Singer 185K

Then there are two old Singer machines. The first has a stencil design called Venezia, and some original wiring. (Hmm.) The second one is a handcrank with decals called Victoria. I think they’re just so pretty. They’re both Scottish lasses.Singer handcrank sewing machine Singer handcrank sewing machine

Finally, there’s the treadle machine in the cabinet. This is a King Rotary, which I haven’t been able to find out much about. It was likely made in Buffalo, New York – here’s a bit about the King sewing machine company and you can see that the heraldic emblem on mine is like the one on that website. Look at those lovely iris decals:King Rotary treadle sewing machine

Do you collect anything vintage?

Sunny Socks

We’ve been having so much rain here that Mr. Math and I have been discussing the merit of building an ark. It’s a bit frustrating as far as the garden goes – the weeds keep growing, but the weather isn’t very conducive to getting out there and cleaning up the beds. I did a lot of work in April but have been kind of stalled since then, and the thistles are taking advantage of their moment.

Rain is good weather for writing, though, and it’s also good for knitting. I’ve been working away on my Wingspan shawl and am getting down to the feather tips. It’s all bunched up on the needles though so I can’t take a good picture. I’ve added some beads, which I really like, and currently am playing yarn chicken. Will I run out? (I think it likely.) What yarn will I use for the wingtips if I do run out of this yarn? That’s a really interesting question and I haven’t decided yet. I’ll take some pix when it’s finished and blocked.

In the meantime, I’ve knit myself a pair of socks. Wingspan isn’t TV knitting at all. Socks are. These socks are very bright, which is welcome this year.

Socks knit in Sugar Bush Itty-Bitty by Deborah Cooke

The pattern is my usual one, but the yarn is a new for me. It’s Sugar Bush Itty-Bitty, which I found in the mill ends bin at Spinrite. The colourway is Sailor’s Sky Delight. The yarn is a blend of merino and nylon with a bit of cashmere. It’s a lot thicker than I thought it was, and these socks are both thick and big. I should have used 64 sts instead of my usual 72. I used just over two balls.

Sock Twins socks knit toe-up by Deborah Cooke

I’ve cast on another pair of sunny socks for myself. I bought this yarn at Spinrite, too. It’s called Sock Twins and includes two balls of yarn that are gradient dyed. The idea is that you easily knit socks that match. I want to use it all so I’m knitting this pair toe-up, starting with the yellow. I like the colours but am not loving the yarn so much – it feels thin and splitty – but maybe it will full when it’s washed. They’re not showing all the colours on the website – you can see mine, which is called Sunset, on Ravelry right here.

I also found the loveliest magazine this week. It’s called By Hand Serial, and the issue I found is number nine. It features a region and the makers in that region, with lovely photographs, interview and projects. Number nine is about Nova Scotia. You can see a preview on their website, right here. As a bonus, I’m not really motivated to finish my Wingspan, because I need those 3.5mm needles to make the Lunenberg Cardigan!

More Sparkle for the Hoard

Dragon pendant and earrings with blue glass made by Deborah CookeI’ve been doing some more beadwork and making shiny things for my dragon hoard. I’ll take these to Romancing the Capital in August.

Today, I wanted to show you these necklace and earring sets. I found dragon pendants that match my dragon charms, so putting them together was an obvious choice.

This one is blue glass beads that have some opalescence. I matched them with cut glass beads of light green and Czech glass 2/0 beads with the same opalescence as the big beads. The fastener is a magnet. I wasn’t sure it would be strong enough for the weight of the necklace, but it is – and it ensures that the wire doesn’t get twisted. Ha.

Dragon necklace made with glass beads by Deborah Cooke

Next is another one with glass beads. I love how sparkly this one is! The larger beads are faceted crystals with an A/B finish. They’re matched with smaller faceted glass beads with the same finish to make a glittery result. The picture doesn’t do its sparkle justice!

Third, a necklace set with fire agate semi-precious gemstone beads and black glass beads, The black beads have a bit of gold detail. There are Czech glass 2/0 beads in gold, too. The fire agate has been dyed to be a brighter orange. I like the pattern in the stone.

Dragon necklace with fire agate semi-precious gemstone beads and glass beads, made by Deborah CookeFire agate is linked with fire by those who use gemstones for healing, and so it has associations with passion and earthly desires. It is also said to be a protective stone and to be revitalizing. Doesn’t it sound like an excellent choice for a dragon?

I have some other semi-precious gemstones that I’ve been using to make these necklaces. There’s a set with lapis lazuli and freshwater pearls. Lapis lazuli is associated with tranquility, self-awareness and healing. These beads are not dyed and are a natural deep blue. I also have some labradorite, undyed, which I’m still trying to pair with something sparkly. Labradorite is said to increase the wearer’s psychic and magical powers, which also makes it a perfect choice for a dragon.

Dragon necklace made with gold and purple beads by Deborah CookeThe fourth set I have to show you today is one of my favorite combinations of glass beads with these dragon charms. There are purple glass beads with an A/B finish and gold ones with the same finish, along with some Czech glass 2/0 beads in gold with an A/B finish. I love this combination as all the beads seem to be reflecting shades of gold and purple.

That’s just four of my dragon necklace sets. What do you think?

A Tiara for a Dragon Queen

I’ve been playing around with beads and charms, making some shiny trinkets to take to Romancing the Capital in August. I decided to try to make a tiara fit for a dragon queen.

Here’s my first attempt.

Bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

I used a metal hairband as a frame. The crystals are dyed quartz and have been drilled, which made it a lot easier to secure them in place. I used 24 gauge wire for the wrapping. I arranged the crystals in order of size first, with the biggest ones in the center, then attached them to the frame. Once they were in place, I added glass beads of various shapes and sizes.

Detail of bead and crystal tiara made by Deborah Cooke

The result is quite sparkly. What do you think?

I’ve also been making some necklaces with gemstone beads, using wire. Here’s one of Dragon’s Eye Agate, with matching earrings:

Necklace and earrings of dragon's eye agate and beads by Deborah Cooke

And here’s one of Fire Agate – the agate has been dyed to enhance the colour, but it is quite spectacular. The black beads are onyx:

Fire agate necklace and earrings made by Deborah Cooke

I’ve been making earrings, too. Here’s a selection with the fun dragon claw drops:

Dragon claw drop earrings with glass beads made by Deborah Cooke

I’m going to make another tiara in different colours – if not two – and will show you them when they’re done.

What do you think? Would you or your favorite dragon queen wear any of these?

Wild Grass Pullover

It’s Friday! Let’s talk about knitting.

Wild Grass pullover knit by Deborah Cooke in Swans Island washable wool sport

I’ve been working on a pullover with a beautiful yoke. The pattern is called Wild Grass and the yarn I’m using is Swans Island Washable Wool Collection Sport. For this pattern, you make a provisional cast-on, knit a few rows, then knit up, through the yoke and the neck. Then you pick up stitches from the provisional cast-on and knit down, dividing for the sleeves then to the hems. This means that the fun part is over early. 🙂

I may re-knit the neck on larger needles. Right now, it’s more of a turtle-neck, but the pattern shows it as a cowl, which is a big part of what I liked about the design.

I bought this yarn at Swans Island when we were in Maine last summer. They make the most beautiful blankets and dye their own yarn. The colours are amazing. This is a wonderful squishy and soft yarn which is spun from merino. Here’s a link to the yarn on the Swans Island website – I’m getting a security warning because of their certificate, but maybe that will be fixed by the time you click through. Here’s a Ravelry link, too. The colours I’m using are Mallard and Pesto. The Mallard is a little darker than it looks in this picture. The yarn is also incredibly soft, so I’m not worried about having this wool next to my skin.

What do you think?

 

New Dragon Scale Mitts

My mitten-knitting has taken an interesting little turn of late: I made a second pair of dragon scale mitts.

You might remember the first pair, which looked like this:
Dragon scale mitts knit by Deborah CookeI used a free pattern for ribbed fingerless gloves in worsted weight, then metal dragon scales from Ring Lord. The post about them is right here.

I gave that pair away, but ordered more scales and finally got to them. Here’s the pair I made this week: Dragon Scale Mitts knit by Deborah Cooke Except for the red, they’re the same. The scales are anodized aluminum in the small size, in black and in red. I switched from the black yarn (which is Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Black Tweed) the yarn to Cascade Jewel Hand-dyed, so the knit edge at the fingers would match the scales. For these, I work a row with scales, then two rows plain – the first plain row is black and the second one red, then the rest of the mitt, including the row with the scales, is knit with red.

Dragon Scale Mitts knit by Deborah CookeI have Patons Classic Wool Worsted in red, which would have been the same yarn as the black tweed, but it’s more orange red than the scales. It’s called Cardinal, while this one I’d call Ruby. (It’s actually #9969 but that tells you just about nothing. “Ruby” is better!) Patons shows a Bright Red on their site, but I think that’s more of a brick colour. It’s possible that the shade I have is discontinued – it’s been in the stash for a while. The Cascade Jewel is discontinued but it’s a nice single ply yarn with a kettle-dyed look. I found this skein at the thrift store. If you find some, snatch it up – it reminds me of Malabrigo Worsted, though isn’t quite as soft. (I hope this means it won’t pill as readily.)

I also ordered some different scales from Ring Lord, including clear plastic ones and ones that glow in the dark. (They work! Ha! Now I have to find a fun color for the yarn.)

In the course of the big clean-and-organize of my craft stuff, I also found (finally!) a wonderful pattern for elbow-length fingerless gloves. I knit these from a Fleece Artist kit and gave the mitts to my niece. I liked them a lot, though, and remember that it had a lovely fit. I looked high and low for this pattern and found it (of course) in the most unlikely of places – with the remaining yarn from the kit. Gah. It’s called Hans – that’s a Ravelry link.

I cast on a pair to check the fit again, as I think the pattern might be easily modified to have scales. Here’s the first one, without scales.

Hans knit by Deborah Cooke in Patons Rumor

The yarn is discontinued – it’s Patons Rumour in a colourway that was never distributed. It makes me think of dragonflies.

What have you been knitting this week?

Black VK Cardigan

A few weeks ago, I told you that I’d had a Eureka moment while knitting my Comfort Fade Cardigan and now knew how to fix another sweater. This post is about that other sweater.

The pattern is from Vogue Knitting Winter 2018 and is a cardigan designed by Cathy Payson in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Simple Cardigan is #9 in that issue. (That’s a Ravelry link.) I bought the issue when it came out, loved this sweater and bought the specified yarn – but in a tweedy black called Blackstone. (Here are some pix of the colourway on Ravelry.) I knit it up – it’s a quick knit with such thick yarn – tried it on and was disappointed in the fit. It was doing that thing of trying to fall off my shoulders. Hmm. It’s been sitting for almost a year, waiting on me to figure out how to get the fit right.

This January, I took it apart and ripped the fronts and back out to the underarms. When I reknit it, I made it narrower at the shoulders at the back. I also had found that it was bulky under the arms in the original version, so I added some short rows to make more of a sleeve cap.

Here’s the modified version – I photographed it with a long sleeve turtleneck inside it, to show the neckline and also the 3/4 sleeves. Mine are a little closer to bracelet length with that addition to the sleeve cap.

Black cardigan knit by Deborah Cooke

It fits so much better! And it’s so thick and warm that it’s perfect for these chilly winter days.

I love the mix of colours in the wool. Here’s a close up to show you that:

detail of Black cardigan knit by Deborah Cooke

Plus I finished another hat, just in time for the polar vortex. This is the same pattern (First Snow) that I used for my cupcake hats before Christmas. This time, though, I used a ball of tweedy wool that I found in the mill ends at Spinrite and added a purchased fake fur pompom.

First Snow hat knit by Deborah Cooke

These deep purple has a lot of great flicks of colour in it, in blue and red, which aren’t showing up very well. It’s pretty and I think I’ll keep this one. I have a second pompom and several more skeins of this mystery yarn in different colours, so I’ll make at least one more.

What do you think?