sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

I had big scraps of black paper left over from my DIY poster framing project. Nice, handmade Japanese paper from the paper store, but since I don't do much paper-crafting, it was just going to lay around the house. So I got busy with the scissors and made a colony of bats in time for Halloween. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Usually the weather turns lousy just in time for the Trick or Treaters. Rain, or few years ago we even got snow. Then the next day it's beautiful outside.

Tonight's weather, however, should be decent -- dry and cold enough for the kids to wear their costumes and not sweat to death -- 28 º F/4 º C. Which means we'll get lots of kids at the door.

D swears that we've got enough Snickers, Butterfingers, and Twix, but I'm not so sure and I'm going to pick up some more chocolate this afternoon. I think last year he went to a yoga class or something, and I was home alone when the candy ran out and I had to turn out the lights and hide. Right now, our "back up" candy is Smarties and caramels, and I don't want to be that house with the disappointing treats or lights out.

Lib's ready to greet the hordes.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here's hoping all your treats are just right.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, October 30, 2006

FO Report -- Kandinsky Tote

sweetfigs' Kandinsky Tote, September and October 2006
gift to knitter Alison in Campbell River, British Columbia, as part of International Tote Swap II

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This bag is currently somewhere in Canada, on it's way to my tote swap partner. Alison, I hope you like it, I was a little sad to see this one go out the door.

First up, the embellishment, which turned out like I planned. Note to CJ: I was going to secure the threads to the back by ironing on some fusible interfacing, but chickened out. Instead of the super hot iron, I used some clear fabric adhesive. More detailed notes for CJ and other crafters are at the bottom of this blog entry.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

For the bag itself, I was aiming for the size of a small shopping bag, and succeeded. Yay!
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I gave the bag a little structural support by lining the bottom with some plastic needlepoint canvas, and attaching eight large grommets to the top.Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here's the details.

Yarn & Needles: Approximately 350 grams of dark and light charcoal grey Reynolds Lopi (100% Icelandic wool) and Lambs' Pride Prairie Silks (72% Wool, 18% Mohair, 10% Silk. 2 strands held together and densely knit on size 9 or 10 US (5.5 or 6 mm) knitting needles.

Embellishment: Printed muslin in Penny Rug design and punch embroidery needle from Hooked on Rugs. Assorted colors of cotton embroidery floss, including machine dyed DMC brand from local fabric store and hand dyed pieces from Hooked on Rugs. Used 3 full skeins of DMC floss for grey background.

9" embroidery hoop
Beacon Adhesives brand Fabri-Tac clear permanent glue
1 small piece of felt or other fabric to glue onto back of completed embellishment
8 extra-large nickel eyelets (Dritz brand, kit #660 includes setting tools + 10 eyelets), hammer
1 piece plastic needlepoint canvas, trimmed and corners rounded to rest in base of bag
1 tapestry needle to weave in knitted ends
1 sharp sewing needle to affix embellishment to tote

Approach: Knit swatch, measure or just draw outline on paper for measuring later, felt with regular load of laundry, then remeasure. Using pre- and post-felted swatch measurements as a guide, make rectangular base in garter stitch, pickup and knit stockinette sides in the round, switch to garter stitch in final 6 rounds, bind off. Make I-cord for straps, exact length not crucial, allow sufficient length to tie knots in finished straps. Felt pieces and set aside to dry thoroughly. Make embellishment, trim muslin to 1" around, coat back of embellishment with clear adhesive and neatly fold muslin over exposed ends of embroidery floss, coat again and attach small piece of felt or other fabric to neaten and stablize. Mark and attach extra-large eyelets to tote, thread and knot straps, using matching thread and sharp sewing needle, tack embellishment to exterior.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

It's a little late in the day for this -- we're running out the door for dinner -- but here's some eye candy. Same shot as last week, but what a difference a week makes in the foliage.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Lakefront by Bicycle

On my sister's last day in Chicago, we slept in late, snacked on banana bread and coffee, and then pedaled our bicycles over to the lakefront.

We took a little break at the zoo.
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The big lion was rolling around on his back.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the lioness using the poor leafless tree as a scratching post.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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These guys are more my speed. They remind me of Libby.Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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I hope my sister comes back to Chicago soon.

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Chicago architecture by boat

When my sister was visiting last weekend we took a boat tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

If you're a fan of the Dave Matthews Band, you may recall a little incident in 2004 involving their tour bus, a Chicago bridge, and an architecture tour boat. While the band was out on the town, their bus driver drove the bus over the Kinzie Street bridge and dumped the contents of the waste tank. The surface of the bridge is mostly grates and the waste fell onto the passengers of the architecture tour boat. Altogether now: eeewwwwwww! More here if you're interested.

Any way, our tour guide cautioned us against craning our necks and gaping up at the bridges, but never mentioned why.

Here's some of the photos I took while we headed east on the river, out to Lake Michigan and Navy Pier:
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Lake Point Tower:
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Heading back west, into the Loop, here's the Wrigley Building (as in Wrigley chewing gum):
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The new Trump Tower under construction:Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The Tribune (newspaper) building:Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

On the south and north branches of the river:Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sock Wars Wrap Up

Yesterday afternoon I received a squishy package from one of the Sock Warriors I assassinated, North Vancouver blogger 5 And A Beagle. She's dead so she was passing along the socks she started for Cleveland, Ohio blogger iheartknitting.PDRM2846
I wish these were mine.

The green yarn is some super soft Debbie Bliss Merino DK and the white yarn is Steinbach Wolle Supersport Effekt that was extra from the toes of the Peppermint Socks of Doom.

And check out that cool Latvian Twist Cast On. I couldn't decipher how she did it, so I'm hoping 5 And A Beagle will clue me in.

PDRM2851I was assassinated by the Cirque du Soleil socks from Opus, so I had to mail the green & white ones to him in New Hampshire.

While the socks stayed overnight at my house, I added a few rounds of ribbing to the legs.

That meant I just didn't have time last night to wreck stabilize my embroidery project by attaching a piece of fusible interfacing to the back of it with a super hot iron.

I think there are about 165 knitters still in the tournament, down from the original 773(?). Go Opus go!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Almost an FO

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I'm trying a different photo host this morning, so if you can't see two photos here, that's why.

The embellishment for the tote bag I'm making is almost done.

I've finished with all the embroidery. The next step is to attach a piece of fusible interfacing to the back of the piece, to help keep all those little loops of embroidery thread from pulling out. Then I will tack the embellishment to the tote with a little sewing thread.

After doing all this work, I'm a little nervous, ok, very nervous, about putting a hot iron on it. Not only putting a hot iron on it, but leaving it there. I guess it's a little like steeking for some people.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A visit to Chicago's Millennium Park

One of my sisters came for a visit over the weekend. She's got four kids between the ages of 11 and 16 and a husband who travels a lot for business, so it wasn't an easy trip to schedule.

We squeezed in a lot of sightseeing and good meals, but we also got to sleep in late one morning and capped off her trip by going to the spa for a hot stone massage.

Here's a few pictures from our walk around Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. It was a beautiful Fall day.

The Cloud Gate sculpture, popularly known as The Bean:PDRM2788
My lovely sister (I made her wear the Red Scarf so we could get some better pics of it for the blog):
Up close to the bean:

In the picture above, you can see the feet of people who have walked underneath the sculpture. My sister and I also walked inside and took a picture by aiming the camera straight up. We're the flash of light at the center:PDRM2796


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Better pics of the FO -- Red Scarf

A few days ago I said I would take some better photos of the red scarf. Hopefully these show off the texture created by the lacy pattern and the bamboo yarn.PDRM2836
Since the pattern calls for frequent yarnovers (written as YO or YF) and centered decreases, it's probably not for a beginning knitter. But as far as lace patterns go, this is an easy one.

There are just two rows -- all the counting and stitch manipulation occurs while knitting the right side (Row 1), and then the stitches are purled back to the other needle (Row 2).

Every so often, count the stitches while you are working the purl side, and you'll quickly catch any errors you made on the knit side.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Autumn LeavesYeah, it's Friday. I was a little sparse with posts this week, but I'll probably have some Chicago pics in the next few days. One of my sisters is visiting (the one who likes geneology) and we'll be out-and-about with the camera, being tourists.

Edited to add that I am republishing this entry only because it didn't seem to syndicate properly on Friday.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WIP -- Embroidery, well, sort of

Here's one of the little embroidery kits I picked up at the Country Living Fair a few weeks ago. When it's finished, I'm going to attach it to the grey tote I made for my swap partner in the International Tote Swap.

All the colorwork is done, and you can see on the left side where I started to fill in around the black circles with some grey embroidery floss. PDRM2742The embroidery design is called Penny Rug, but it reminded me of a Kandinsky painting, or even a milliflori glass paperweight.Kandinsky's Farbstudie QuadrateI'm running short of the grey floss, so I tried to use the white that I saw in the painting or the glass paperweights. The white embroidery floss, on the right in first photo, gives the design a totally different look. I decided it wouldn't coordinate as well with the grey tote I made, so I put the project aside until I could get more grey floss.


PDRM2735I've been assassinated in Sock Wars (big sigh here). Assassin Opus, who is blogless, killed me off with a pair of maize & blue Socks of Doom. He also sent me the cutest photo he took of the socks-in-progress while he was at Cirque du Soleil, and a little swag from the souvenier shop. Oh well, at least I went out in grand style.

I'm waiting to receive socks-in-progress from North Vancouver's 5 And A Beagle, and will be forwarding them on to Opus for completion. If your name is Amy and your blog is iheartknitting, you just got a little reprieve.

Monday, October 16, 2006

FO Report -- Red Scarf

Over the weekend I finished this scarf for a college student I haven't met yet.
PDRM2729 Come back later for better pics.

This scarf will be part of the bundle of red scarves that Chicago KIP'ers are sending in January 2007 to the Orphan Foundation of America for their Red Scarf project. It will make its way into a care package that an American college student will receive in February.

I will add a little note with the scarf, but if you're the recipient, please know that I'm wishing you the best! When I started this scarf, it was kind of impersonal, just something to do for the community and because Theresa asked. As it took shape and became something wearable, however, it became much more.

Pattern: Wavy Razor Shell Scarf, by Portland, Oregon blogger Casey/I Think I'm Gonna Purl Thank you, Casey.

Materials: South West Trading Company Bamboo (100% bamboo, 100 grams / 250 yards per ball), 2 balls in Red, color 521. Final weight of scarf: 131 grams. 6 x 68 inches (15.5 x 172 cm). This bamboo yarn is a wonderful choice for lightweight tanks and scarfs.

Modifications: Instead of using US #5 or #6 needles with wool yarn, I used US #4 (3.50 mm). To compensate for the smaller needles and drapey yarn, I added 8 stitches to the pattern. There are four panels in the scarf, so I added 1 stitch to the left and right of the centered decreases. E.g., in the first and last panels, instead of (k2, centered decrease, k2) I did (k3, centered decrease, k3).

Other news: It's official, the peppermint socks have assasinated 5 And A Beagle in Sock Wars. Last I looked, there were 222 knitters left out of the 773 original entrants.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Eye Candy Friday and An Offer to Swap

Happy Friday People! I found these berries last weekend at the Chicago Botanic Garden. There was no identification on the tree. They might be some kind of gooseberry?

A now for something completely different. Send an email to my gmail account if you would like to knit and swap tiny sweaters to be used as holiday ornaments.

I've been wanting to decorate a winter wreath or an I-cord clothesline with assorted sweaters. Over the summer I had plans to set up a swap page, complete with photos pattern links, and multiple deadlines for early birds and later swappers, but the administrative duties have been too much for me. Plus have you seen all the WIPs in my sidebar?

So here it is, a much less ambitious swap idea.

Make a sweater that is about palm-sized by using yarn from your stash and one of the free patterns graciously offered by Julia of Mind of Winter or Jackie of Heart Strings Fiber Arts . Swap with me by putting a tiny sweater in the mail at the end of the Thanksgiving Weekend, Monday, November 27, 2006. That way we'll have sweaters in time to decorate the house or gifts in December. If this sounds like fun to you, send an email to my gmail address. ;)


Thursday, October 12, 2006

FO Report -- Sock Wars Socks of Doom for 5 And A Beagle

After I killed off my first victim in Sock Wars, stringthing in
northern Kentucky, she sent me the socks she started for her victim:
stringthing suspected, however, that the yarn might run a little short, so first thing I did was throw her completed sock on the scale.

PDRM2648Sure enough, 100 grams of yarn was not going to be enough to finish the pair, and since the yarn came by mailorder from elann, a little improvising was going to be necessary.

The girls at the local yarn store helped me pick out a little more fire power.

Ta da, Peppermint Socks of Doom, which are currently in the hands of the Canadian postal service for blogger 5 And A Beagle in North Vancouver, B.C.: PDRM2668a
I think stringthing made a great choice! The peppermint yarn was nice to work
with and seemed like it would hold up well in the washing machine. It is still available at elann if you're interested in a pair of PSoD for yourself.
Yarn for one pair US womens shoe size 9: Main Color: Schoeller Stahl Micro Cable Color, color way 0002, 100% polyacryl, machine washable, 100 grams, a "chunky" weight yarn (78m per 50g skein) knit at DK gauge, 20 stitches/30 rows to 4"/10 cm. Source: elann.com. Contrasting Color: Steinbach Wolle, Supersport Effekt, color way 1, 80% wool, 20%
polyamid, machine washable, 100m/109y per 50g skein, used approximately one-third of a skein. Source: local yarn store.

Needles: US size 4, 3.5 mm.

The last time I looked at the statistics for Sock Wars, I was one about 250 remaining from the original 773 knitters that entered.

I have a feeling though, that waging Sock Wars in a distant land will be perilous to my health.