Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Making My Mark

Back in 2013 I wrote a post about selected stitch markers for my knitting blog The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done, and I remember how looking at all those cute options felt like stitch marker porn. At that time I was using a set of commercially made plastic stitch markers myself. I never liked those stitch markers because I considered them very ugly, but I disliked their brittleness even more. They were shaped like tiny locks, but they broke so easily that I avoided locking and unlocking them, and I'd often find one had snapped from nothing more than the light pressure of my hand as it held the the needle the marker was on. I never lost any stitch markers, but one by one they cracked and split until I was down to the last eight or nine out of what had initially been two dozen or so. Then it was time to think about picking out some new ones -- and I can't say I was sorry to have the excuse to replace the old set. Finally I was going to get some pretty stitch markers!

When I revisited that old KNDD post for ideas on what stitch markers to buy, I was reminded by my own research that I could make my own stitch markers. I do some beading and had the tools and findings already, and it was just a matter of finding some suitable beads.

For this project, I looked for medium-sized, smooth beads that wouldn't snag or catch on whatever yarn I used. I tried to keep the cost to a minimum, and it is indeed quite possible to do this simple project for very little if you've got basic beading tools on hand. I also knew I wanted different colour stitch markers that I could colour code as I marked different things (i.e., a single distinct marker for the start of a row, or a matched set for the sleeve parts of a "top down" sweater project).

When I bought the beads for my grandniece's tenth birthday necklace and earring set in January, I got the string of orange Czech glass beads you see above as my "free string" in a "buy 1 string of beads, get one free" sale at Michaels. I found the two red beads and the two dyed jasper beads you see above in my box of beading supplies -- they were the only ones I had left of their kind. The remaining string of ivory beads in the photo was a necklace I bought for $2 at Value Village using a "$2 off" coupon I got from them for filling out an online survey. I was feeling quite pleased with myself for getting the beads for this project together at essentially no cost... until I actually tried making the stitch markers and it turned out that the holes in the ivory beads were too large for this project. Sigh. I bagged up those ivory beads and tucked them away in my beading box for some as yet unknown future use. Then I bought another thrift shop necklace for $2.25, and this time I checked the holes before I bought the necklace to be sure the beads were suitable.

To make your own stitch markers you need head pins, leverback earrings, and a few basic beading tools: cutters, round nose pliers, and flat pliers or crimpers (not shown). Put the bead on your head pin, add the lever-back earring, then twist the top of the pin around the needlenose pliers until it's in a small circle. Cut off the excess length of headpin with the cutters, clamp the circle you've created closed with the flat pliers or crimpers, and... you're done.

These are the finished stitch markers. Given that twenty is a plentiful supply of stitch markers for me (I seldom work on more than one knitting project at a time), they are unlikely to break, and I'm not one to lose things, they should last me for quite some time. If they look just like earrings to you, it's because they essentially are, though I would put a little more effort into earring design than I have into these stitch markers, which I wished to keep simple in order to give my yarn as little as possible to wind itself around.

I did hold back two of the orange Czech beads with the idea of possibly making them into earrings for me at some point... lest I be otherwise tempted to borrow two of my stitch markers for some special occasion involving an orange outfit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Ivory Cotton Pullover is Dead; Long Live the Ivory Cotton Pullover!

This project plan began when it became necessary to replace a wardrobe staple. Late last summer the v-necked ivory cotton Reitmans pullover I had owned since 2007, and worn countless times as it went with most of my summer skirts, trousers, shorts, and jeans, died a grisly death when it acquired some sort of stain on the front that I could not remove, try as I would. It was time for a new one.

I searched Ravelry for a suitable fingering-weight pullover pattern. I wanted something simple with a bit of interesting detail that would go with everything. In the end, I selected Elizabeth the First (shown above), designed by Alice Starmore, as published in her book, The Tudor Roses. I'd treated myself to a copy of that (gorgeous!) book for a birthday present several years back, so I had the pattern in my library. For yarn, I selected Premier Cotton Fair, a fingering weight cotton acrylic blend, in Cream, which I purchased at Michaels one skein at a time using their "40% to 50% off one item" coupons, so it was pretty cost effective. It seems to be a very decent quality yarn and was pleasant to work with. Ravelry has it listed as a sport weight, but I definitely consider it a fingering weight.

And here's the finished sweater. The lines of the sweater as designed are almost costumey -- understandably, given that it was a design inspired by a queen known for her incredibly elaborate attire. The pattern calls for a 10" decrease through the waist, and flared cuffs on the sleeves. I'm a big proponent of waist shaping in knitwear, but my body doesn't even have that much waist definition, and I can never tolerate extra fabric flapping around my wrists. I altered the pattern so that there was only 4" of waist shaping, knitted the sleeves in a standard tapered shape, and also raised the armholes by two inches. I kept the neckline, the yoke and hem detailing, and the curved hem exactly as they were, so the design does present very much as intended. I'm quite pleased with the result. And now I hope to get years of wear out of it, as I did out of its predecessor.

This project was supposed to take 400 grams, but I used a cotton instead of the wool called for, and cotton tends to run short because it's heavier. This sweater took 410 grams of yarn, leaving me with a 90 gram stash increase.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Clipping Along

This project plan began to evolve when I wanted to replace my functional but ugly fridge magnet clips and couldn't find any decent non-tacky, non-cheesy fridge magnets for sale anywhere. Then I happened to see some DIY glass marble magnets tutorials on Pinterest, but while I thought they were very pretty I've never found that the kind of fridge magnet that's intended to be placed over, or partially over, an item has much holding power; I wanted good strong clip magnets. But then I realized there was a way to combine the strength of the clips with the attractiveness of the marble magnets, and got so fired up with enthusiasm for my idea that I purchased nine new magnet clips with the idea that I would make a set not only for me but also two additional sets for my mother and sister as stocking stuffers for Christmas 2019.

These were the original four clips I've been using on my fridge for years. The metal had gone dark and spotted over the years and needed sprucing up. After a failed attempt to paint them with some metallic craft paint, I painted them with some "hammered bronze" Tremclad I had on hand. I bought a bag of dollar store marbles and stuck four of them on a scrap of rose print wrapping paper with Modge Podge, and once it had dried, cut away the excess paper. Then I glued the marble onto the magnet clip with all-purpose white glue. This is the set for my mother. She's an avid gardener so floral images were a good choice for her.

This is my sister's set. I left her clips unpainted as I thought the existing metal tone went better with the images I used, which were cut from an old calendar. Her kitchen has some blue and yellow in it, though it's mostly white, so these clips should go well with her decor.

This is my set. I've been using them for over a week as of this writing, and they seem perfectly functional. I was afraid the marbles wouldn't stay put, but I've got ten months to test their staying power before I give away the other two sets, and so far they've remained securely in place. I could have left these clips unpainted since they were new, but after some internal debate I decided the bronze tone was a better fit with the images I'd chosen and with my kitchen. The images in the marbles are cut from an old Mucha calendar I had on hand. This set of clips will go well with my planned poppy-themed kitchen reno. Can't wait until the entirety of my ugly old kitchen is on par with these clips!