Friday, December 29, 2017

The Best Laid Stash Busting Plans

The project plan for this item began when I saw that I had some pale peach yarn in my stash that I wanted to use up. I'm planning to make a dress in the near future, out of some pale peach linen and a light peach and green plaid that I have tucked away. I couldn't quite see any of my jackets working with the dress, and decided it would be a nice idea to make myself a little shawl out of the peach yarn and maybe another colour, since that very pale peach shade doesn't do me any favours, and use up a good bit of that peach yarn.

After some browsing of the shawl patterns on Ravelry, I came up with this one, which is the Burlesque Shawl, designed by Miss Vinegar. It's a free pattern. For a complementary colour to the peach, I chose a skein of Cascade Yarns' Ultra Pima in "Summer Moss" (Ravelry has the shade listed as "Sage"). I no longer have any idea of what brand the peach yarn is.

Here's the finished shawl. As you can see, there is nary a hint of peach yarn about it. I got close to being done making the shawl in green and peach and realized I hated it. The yarn, which had been knitted into something else and then ripped out, was all separating into strands. The loose strands bulged out of the piece and looked terrible, as though it were covered in snags. I decided that, instead of proceeding to finish the shawl as was, I would rip out all the peach and replace it with a different yarn, perhaps something in a paler peach. I went looking for a replacement yarn and couldn't find a suitable peach yarn in cotton. Instead I bought a skein of Berroco's Modern Cotton in "Sandy Point", which is a cream colour. Then I finished the shawl. I ran just slightly short of the cream yarn -- I had to omit two rows from the lace pattern and finish a third of the last row with a little piece of a very similar coloured wool and cotton blend yarn from my stash. This is almost certainly because Modern Cotton is listed as a worsted on Ravelry, though I didn't find it felt or worked up any thicker than the Ultra Pima, which is listed as a DK.

I was fairly pleased with the shawl, if somewhat cross that my stash busting efforts had backfired. And I was a little put out to find that I couldn't seem to find much in my existing wardrobe to put with the shawl. Here's the shawl on a dress I already have. It'll look so much better on the peach and green dress I'm going to make in the coming year.

Monday, December 25, 2017

All in the Snow Family

My sister is Christmas crazy and goes all out when decorating for Christmas. She sniffs at my Christmas decorating style, which involves hanging a wreath on my front door, putting a dozen or so decorations around my living room, dining room, and front entry way, and no tree. I consider this decorating style restrained but festive. She says it means I don't like Christmas.

My sister has an especial thing for snowmen, and usually when Christmas shopping I come across some fun snowman decor item or other for her and get it for a stocking stuffer or her gift. Over the years, I've given her snowman tins, tea towels, napkins, muffin cups, a little enamel and diamanté snowman pin, a snowman Christmas stocking counted cross stitch kit, a little snowman stand with numbered blocks one arranged to count down the number of days before Christmas, a snowman clock that plays a different Christmas carol upon each hour, and a number of other things I can't recall now. In another demonstration of the discrepancy between our tastes, I wouldn't have that clock in my house as it would drive me stark raving mad within a day, but she seemed much more pleased with it than the snowman pin, which I thought was adorable.

At any rate, several years ago when I first began coming across various patterns for knitted snowman families, it occurred to me that she would like such a snow family, and decided to make one for her. I don't like working in the small scale, though, and put the project off repeatedly.

My Ravelry library tells me I purchased this pattern in October 2014. It's the SnoBuddy Family design, by Chris de Longpré. There are a number of such snow family patterns out there, but this one struck me as especially cute. This is an inexpensive project to make because it takes just one skein of white worsted (I used part of a Bernat Super Value skein of worsted in the appropriately named Winter White) and some odds and ends of various coloured yarns to make.

Here's my finished version of the snow family. I went with reds and greens for their accessories and used just four yarns because I wanted them to look coordinated, but now I'm wishing I'd varied the selection of yarn a little more. As for modifications, I think I made just two: I fringed the edge of the mother snowperson's scarf, and I used dollar store glass marbles instead of the pattern-directed dried beans for weighting the figures, because that means this little family can take a bath as needed. As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I also bought a dollar store snowman gift box for the snow family, figuring that besides being a cute way of wrapping the gift, my sister will be able to use the box to store these little guys for the other eleven months of the year.

Subtracting the weight of the marbles and the stuffing, I estimate that this project used up 280 grams of stash yarn.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Tale of Two Necklaces

Sometime back in the summer of 2016 I found the patterned Czech beads you see above while browsing in Michaels, and bought them on impulse. Impulse buys are rare for me these days, as I am trying to plan all my wardrobe purchases carefully and only buy what I really need and will use. I certainly did not need another necklace. But I fell in love with those beads on the spot and justified my purchase by saying it was a treat for my upcoming birthday, and that it would go with the plum-coloured sweater I was planning on making. (Item: The plum sweater is still unmade.) I bought a few strings of other beads I thought would work with the Czech beads as well, and I intended to make the necklace on my birthday, but though I spent some hours working on it I couldn't get the necklace to look right. Over the next year and a half I made sporadic trips to Michaels and all the bead shops on Queen Street and tried to find other beads that would look right. In the end I bought three more kinds of beads and a pendant, and after each purchase I'd have another frustrating session with my bead board.

In the end I used two of the four kinds of beads I bought with some silver spacer beads I had on hand, and left off the pendant entirely. I'm not thrilled with the result but I think it will do. The colours work well.

The second necklace, which I put together on the same day as the first, was much less fraught. I needed a present for my mother's 79th birthday, which is today. I looked about at Michaels for something to build a necklace around, found this pretty pendant, and bought two strings of coordinating beads to go with it.

As it turned out, I didn't even need both those strings of beads, and was able to return one. The other string combined with some gold space beads and discs that I had in my bead box made this necklace, which I was able to put together in one sitting. I can never be sure whether my mother will like something, but if she doesn't like this necklace or want to wear it, I do and will.