sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Monday, February 26, 2007

Crocheting For Knitters

On Sunday I took part in Judi Swartz's Crocheting for Knitters workshop, and loved it. Judi is a wealth of information -- she's authored numerous knitting patterns, as well as Hip to Crochet and Getting Started In Crochet, and she used to manage a Chicago yarn store.

The all-day workshop was at the perfect pace for a novice crocheter like myself. My previous crocheting was limited to a one-hour private lesson with Cathy Montoya, followed by some fiddling with a few crocheted accents and Doris Chan's Crocheted Slippers pattern from the Fall 2005 Knitscene:

So I already felt comfortable doing the stitches, but like I didn't really know when to use crocheting instead of knitting.

Judi taught us how to add borders, including what pickup ratio to use, and how to use crocheting instead of the mattress stitch to seam knitted pieces. We also had time to make a few accents. Judi set a relaxed tone, and instead of my usual M.O. of worrying about getting the stitches perfect, I just stitched merrily along, ignored the glitches, and kept up with the rest of the class. Yes, my samples turned out wonky, but they're done and they're mine. :)


Check this out -- I blocked my swatches before I went to class, and took a picture of the bathwater because I couldn't believe how much oil and dirt I got from half of one skein of Philosopher's Wool.


This is Dark Purple Heather and Light Purple Heather from their Woodland color scheme:

The unwashed wool is a little grabby to work with, but it smells wonderful, and the heathers are gorgeous.

After lunch we worked on edging a scarf. Judi had instructions and samples for fancy edge stitches, but since my knitted scarf was visually complex, she suggested doing a simple picot (those are picots, not super wonky stitches sticking out on the bottom left sample above). Step 1 is to add single crochet to all the borders, which I can finish during my commute. Step 2 will be to add the picot.

You can see that the left side of the orange scarf is rolling under by about half an inch, and that the right side with the applied crochet is already lying flatter, even pre-blocking:


This scarf was my motivation for taking the class, so I couldn't be happier.

The long and the short of it: if you get a chance to learn from Judi Swartz, jump on it, she's a great teacher, and if you can't learn from her in person, seek out her books.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eye Candy Friday


Happy Friday, guys! I've been out of my routine all this week, but in a good way. I've been doing lots of laps at the pool, going out for dinner, and last night, basking in the sauna forevah before a long massage. I slept like a baby and feel awesome!

D's been fending for himself for dinner, and I think one night all that he had was a big bowl of popcorn. Not that he's complaining. Sometimes it's nice to grab just a little something, right?

We've got a wet, cold weekend in the forecast and I still need to do my homework for Sunday's crochet workshop, so I fired up the slowcooker this morning for a quick-prep but cozy home-cooked meal.

I started with sauted handfuls of onion and carrot, 2 cups of mushroom broth from a box (must learn how to make this myself), half a cube of vegetable bullion, 1 1/2 cups of navy beans that soaked overnight, gobs of fresh herbs tucked into a muslin bag, and a dry California bay leaf. I've got the slow cooker on "low" for the rest of the day.

On the way home tonight I'll pick up a fresh baguette and some salad fixings. And maybe something for dessert. No, no dessert! I don't want to undo all the laps I put in this week.

Mmmm, it's going to be a great weekend. See you all next week. I'll have pics from the workshop.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Last Day of Ketel Cam

The girls had one last play session in the snow:

And then we all had to say good bye to Ketel. She'll be spending the weekend with other family members and then going home after Presidents' Day (Monday). So here's just a couple more photos for her vacationing mom & dad.

I think there were moments when Lib was a little jealous of our affection for Ketel, but all in all, she enjoyed having all the play time. Ketel was a perfect houseguest, and she's welcome back any time! Isn't she just the cutest little girl?
Bye. We'll miss you, honey.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

A better picture of Ketel:

I was in a hurry yesterday and didn't mention that Ketel is D's cousin's dog, and that she's staying with us while the cousin and his wife are skiing in Vail. They've called us every day to check on their baby! Not to worry guys, she and Lib are still having a ball.

It wasn't easy capturing her in a moment of rest. Even when I told her she had to stay on her bed, she kept flopping around, trying to entice me or Lib into a game.
Lib, being the sedate 7 year old, prefers lounging most of the time, but there's been a lot of this going on:
Lib's going to be all ti ti by the end of Ketel's visit.

Hey, is it just me, or does Ketel resemble Gerhart Schmidbauer (pictured on the upper right in this link)?

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

House Guest

My crafting time has been crimped since Tuesday by the arrival of a house guest. Meet Ketel:
Click for bigger

She's a 9-month-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (also known as a French wire-haired Korthals Pointing Griffon or Griffon d'arrêt à poil dur Korthals), and will be staying with us until Saturday.

She's about Libby's size, but has a lot more energy to spare. People, I'm up to my eyeballs in puppy power! Even the dogwalker asked if the girls could just play in the yard instead of walking around the neighborhood. We're on Day 2, however, so I'm hoping that some of that excited energy is cooling off.

I intend to get some action shots of our happy house guest, which shouldn't be too hard. Unless she's moving too much!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day


It's not snowing any more, but there's so much on the ground it's going to be here for a while. Hey, it's February in Chicago! Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

WIP Report -- Simple Trekking Socks

I had a three-day weekend, but never sat down to graft the red lace scarf. Instead, I ran long overdue errands, put some books on ebay, washed sweaters and hats, and played with Lib in the snow.

I have to be in a more patient mood to sit and graft 170 stitches.

It's too bad I have to go to work because today would be the perfect day to spend on the couch with a time-consuming project. We got an overnight snow fall and we're supposed to get a lot more. Maybe a foot. D shoveled the sidewalk before he left and it's already hard to see the concrete.

I've got some mindless knitting in progress for the commute. A pretty new shade of Trekking XXL in muted purples and blues.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday, People!

A hand drawn and hand embroidered original (about 41" x 20"):



Thursday, February 08, 2007

WIP Report -- Almost Lost in Translation scarf or shawl

Lib usually sleeps by herself on her own fluffy bed, but it's been so cold lately that we've been letting her get under the covers with us. This worked out great for 3 or 4 nights. The other night, though, she woke us up about a dozen times by poking D or me with a stiff arm, running in her sleep, or standing up, turning around at least 3 times, and then settling back in. Both D and I overslept and felt crummy all day, so Lib's been banished back to her own bed.

I don't have much crafting to show you. We've been back from vacay for a while now, but instead of crafting, I've been catching up on bloglines, reorganizing my stash and library, and buying yarn.

My only project lately has been my mom's red triangular scarf. It's the one based on this pattern:

And it's the one that turned out too small, even though I achieved the pattern's dimensions. :(

My solution is to knit the piece at the top of this photo (which I did during the vacation), and then graft it onto the existing triangle. I'm not so sure I can graft lace, but doesn't it sound better than reknitting the whole thing?

Lifelines are in place, so the plan is to graft and hopefully block this weekend. Wish me luck!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Books available

When I was going through my library to find places for my recent acquisitions, I found a couple of Debbie Bliss books I should part with. They are both lovely and in great condition, but I haven't used either recently. So in the spirit of the new year and all, I am going to let them go.

Great Knits for Kids, 27 Classic Designs for Infants to Ten-Year-Olds (1997) is a hardback and New Baby Knits, More than 30 patterns for 0-3 year olds (1991) is a paperback. $7 each + Media Mail postage. I would give a better description, but I overslept and am running out the door. If you're interested, please send me an email: sweetfigs on gmail.

Edited to add: I wound up selling these on ebay for a lot more than 7 bucks apiece. Ebay made some money too. Oh well, so much for giving someone a bargain.


Monday, February 05, 2007

additions to the library

I've recently come across some treasures to add to my library.

First up, Nature Printing, by Laura Donnelly Bethmann. It's a how-to book about making prints with objects like fresh herbs, flowers, leaves, bird feathers, and sea shells.

The book is thin, but full of tips about collecting and preparing materials, and what makes for suitable papers, tools, and inks.

I haven't finished reading it yet, but already I'm inspired to take a few watercolor paints and blank greeting cards up to the Upper Penninsula this summer. I found my copy locally but I've seen other copies on the internet.

Next up, this dear little Peter Rabbit cookbook. I wanted it mostly because the illustrations are so sweet, but it does offer many easy recipies, and all of them are vegetarian. Jems like wheat germ muffins, fresh blueberry cobbler, and carrot cookies. This copy was de-acquisitioned by the Memphis, Tennessee library system and sold on ebay.

Another ex-library book that I found on ebay is the book on the right, a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. You already know what's inside, so I won't bother with the details. It's a hardback with a dust jacket. Perfect!


And, the best for last! On the left is the February-March 1957 issue of Vogue Pattern Book. It holds Elizabeth Zimmermann's very first commercially published pattern. The first ever! I started searching for this 50-year magazine when I came back from the EZ exhibit in Wisconsin last December.

I fell in love with this sweater at the exhibit.

I don't know if I will ever knit such an intricate aran, especially at this small gauge, but I love having this little connection to EZ. Instead of receiving cash for her two knitting patterns, Elizabeth was credited as the source for the wool, and the mention launched the mail order business that survives to this day.
A couple more beauties from the pattern catalog:


Perhaps you want your own copies. Each of the books was about $5, and although the magazine was a bit pricier, it's well worth it.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

Eye Candy Friday


Happy Friday!

This is the flowering bulb that's currently gracing my bathroom. It not only looks great, it smells great and makes the whole downstairs smell like a greenhouse. Outside it's all of 7 F/-14 C, damp, salty, and windy. Brrr. Inside = better!

See you guys Monday. Go Bears!

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

There's no place like home

I would not have enjoyed our vacation if we'd left Lib in the hands of a kennel. Just the thought of being in close quarters with all those stressed out, lonely dogs gives even me the willies.

So when we travel and can't take Lib, our dogwalker and her own pack of canines stay over with Lib.


Our dogwalker had this photo of Lib and her dogs, Ernie and Luna, waiting for us when when got back from Texas. Wasn't that a nice touch? It reminds me of those photos from summer camp. You know, those photos of you and a bunch of kids that you've just spent the whole summer bonding with but your parents have only met them once.

I don't think Lib missed us a bit.