Amy Artisan

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Month: February 2006 (page 1 of 3)

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Now that the 2006 Winter Olympics & the associated Knitting Olympics are over it is time to return to my regularly scheduled programming here at Amy Artisan. For the last couple of weeks I have only highlighted Knitting Olympic activity. In this post I’ll combine a couple of different entries & get current on the blog (so this will be a longer post than previous ones). Still to come in this edition of Amy Artisan:
– A Bevy of Blankets!
– Reading on the Rails…
– Lacey Squares

First up…


A Bevy of Blankets!

I finally got around to getting these blankets to the intended baby recipients. These blankets are such a relaxing project – it is the basic dishcloth pattern that my Grandma taught me to knit with. When I first started making these blankets I used one yarn but now I always knit 2 yarns together – it is always fun to see how the colors will come together.

Blanket #1 – The Edward
The Edward Blanket

Blanket #2 – The Maggie
The Maggie Blanket

Blanket #3 – The Marlowe
The Marlowe Blanket

My favorite ways to knit this blanket are:
1) 2 colors of Bernat Cotton Tots – these are such soft blankets. The Edward was made with Blueberry & Lemon. The Maggie was made with Grape & Mint.

2) A pale pastel with a white pomadour. The Marlowe was knit with Bernat Softee Baby in Pink & Red Heart Baby Sport Pompadour in White – the picture doesn’t do it justice…up close it is the palest and softest pink because of this yarn combination.

These yarn selections ensure that the blankets can be easily washed & dryed as needed – allowing for the blankets to be used (& not just folded over the back of the chair).


Reading on the Rails…

Last month I mentioned that I had “found time” with a new daily commute on Metra & wondered how I would spend the time. The 20 minutes between my stop & Union Station really isn’t enough to deal with knitting so I am using the time for reading. In the morning is RedEye (Chicago Tribune Cliff Notes) & in the afternoon it has been fun reading & sometimes sodoku. (On a side note, the Metra commute is now over & I’ll be joining the throngs on the CTA daily for the next couple of months.)

Here are a couple of recent reads:

Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See – This book showed up in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago – I had registered my book club & so Random House has sent a couple of books for me to read (& hopefully recommend to my group) – this was one of those books. It was an engaging story set in China – 2 girls from varying backgrounds are matched as “forever friends” after their feet have been bound according to tradition. It is a beautiful story about Chinese women, friendship, family & culture. I’m definitely going to add it to the suggestion list for my book club.

February Book Club Selection: Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett – Several years ago (2002?) I discovered Bel Canto by Ann Patchett while browsing in the bookstore and was very intrigued by the story premise. As I started reading it I was quickly drawn into the story & I remember several late nights of reading because I didn’t want to put the book down. When our book club discussed the book several months later it was a very engaging discussion. Bel Canto has probably been one of my “most loaned” books in recent years and everyone who has borrowed it has really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to our discussion. I thought the book was good – although I did enjoy Bel Canto a lot more. One thread of discussion I was looking forward to regarding this book was “Truth & Memoirs” – given all the press recently about Jame Frey lying in “A Million Little Pieces” and the statements that memoirs allow for embellishment…do you think Ann Patchett enhanced any of her memories of Lucy to tell the story?


Lacey Squares

In the middle of the Knitting Olympics the mid-month Dishcloth KAL began. I remained focused on the shawl & didn’t cast on for this dishcloth until Capri was off the needles – but the last week of work on this dishcloth pattern has been filled with lots of stumbles (think of all the falls in the figure skating competions & you get the idea). I will get a dishcloth done in the coming days; however, in the interim I have done a sample square.

1 Lacey Square

This pattern is called Lacey Squares – those squares are created by using the SKPO stitch – one that I hadn’t done before.

The Knit Details:
– Lacey Squares Dishcloth
– Sugar’n Cream Countryside Ombre
– Size 7 needles (the pattern called for 6 but I didn’t have a pair)

I like how this pattern knits up – beyond dishcloths I have some ideas for other projects using this pattern – they’ll be revealed in coming months.

Now that the Knitting Olympics are over it’s time to get busy on lots of other projects. In the coming weeks:
– Pink & Red fun for Project Spectrum (including a postcard for the swap). I have several projects planned in a couple of different mediums.
– My first attempt at a felted bag.
– A couple of one skein projects. I’ve recently picked up some lovely handpainted skeins & look forward to turning them into fun things. I’ve joined What’s your skein? as a motivation for working on these.
– It’s time to focus on scrapbooking some more: both my Italy/Greece album that I started in January & getting caught up with the rest of 2005.

Ah Capri!

In the 2006 Knitting Olympics Lace event is Amy Artisan with The Capri Shawl!


(Pardon the “lack of natural light” pictures – when the weather is warmer I may post some pictures of Capri “in action” outside.)

The Details
Pattern: Capri Shawl from Morehouse Farms

Yarn: Aqua Morehouse Merino Lace

Needles: Brittany Birch – US10 – 14″

Cast On: Friday, February 10th (2nd Cast On: Sunday, February 12th)
Bind Off: Sunday, February 19th

Customizations: I spaced the triangles 20 stitches apart since I was knitting during the 20th Winter Olympics. The “open” triangle is 10 rows because my 2005 Italy/Greece trip was 10 days long.

Notes: Overall this was a fun project – even with the assorted detours that I had to take on the route to Capri. As I mentioned earlier, the pattern had very light instructions for adding additional triangles into the design & I had to come up with my own notes for how to do them. (I’ll be happy to share the Amy Arithmetic if anyone wants it for future reference.) Looking at the blocked & finished shawl I notice some bobbles (not the intentional knit ones – the “oops” ones) that will not be making an appearance in future lace projects – but they are part of the process of learning something new. Previously I had mentioned that this was knitting tight & I would probably use size 10 needles (instead of the recommended 9) for any future knits of this pattern – after the blocking it doesn’t look as tight so I might use the 9s again.

Capri in Repose

I can’t wait to wear this shawl! Wrapping it around me this evening brought a huge smile to my face – this is the first knitwear that I’ve completed for myself that wasn’t a scarf or a hat.

Since I finished knitting the shawl I’ve decided that the color of the yarn, while still representing a favorite color from my Italy/Greece trip, is closer to the color of the water along the Greek coast instead of Capri. Here is a picture of the water that will give you a better representation of the yarn color.

The water along the coast of Greece

And here is the artistic shot of the Shawl draped over my computer that currently has the Greek Water picture as my desktop wallpaper.

Capri & the computer

Beyond Capri…what has the Knitting Olympics taught me? I can knit to a deadline if I have to – but I’m not sure that’s how I want to approach my knitting. (Must start on Christmas gifts now!) I enjoy having a couple of things going so that if boredom sets in I can switch to something different. I’m ready to try some more new things – at first glance this pattern seemed so much like my standard baby blanket pattern; however, it managed to trip me up more than once & yet I was still able to get it done.

p.s. Dad continues to make progress in his Needlepoint Olympics – sometime in the future (currently no ETA) you all will get to see his finished object!

Off the needles & onto blocking

Whew! Capri is successfully off the needles at 2:30 PM. This is the second time today that I finished the shawl. Around 9:30 this morning I finished binding off (with just a bit of yarn leftover) & when I went to stretch the shawl out along the bind off edge I heard a horrible sound – the breaking of yarn. That’s right, the bind off was way too tight & there was no way that it could be worn – the break of the yarn was actually a good thing. I managed to pick up all the stitches on a row about 12 back from the bind off – I placed them all on my biggest stitch holder – then transfered them onto one of the needles. After a break to go have brunch with friends I returned to the mess – I took to unraveling the remaining rows & after a couple of yarn breaks discovered that the stitches were “backwards” on the needle so I had to transfer them to the other needle. I then knit about 4 rows & started the bind off row again. This time the bind off is much looser & I will be able to block the shawl into a better shape.

Here is a picture of the “rough” shawl now before I begin blocking & dealing with the few ends that need to be woven.

Capri - Before Blocking

Next up…blocking! The next blog entry about Capri will be introducing you to the finished object!

Four Rows Forward…Four Rows Back…

I had great plans for making a lot of progress on Capri last night. I got started right away & noticed that my stitch counter seemed to show more middle stitches than I thought I had completed on Tuesday. Did I stop & do a physical count of stitches? Oh no, that would be too easy. So I continued knitting & moved ahead 4 rows. It was time to add the 3rd triangle repeat into the mix & as I was nearing the end of the “add” row I was coming out with the wrong number of stitches.

Count…hmm…count again…hmm…time to start taking out rows…1 row…2 rows…3 rows…count…hmm…count again…hmm…another row back…another row back…count…count again…count again – ok time to restart this row…count midway through…on schedule…count at the end…it works! 1 row down…knit another…knit another…knit another…knit another…knit another…time to call it an evening.

Total rows knit in the evening = 10; Total progress in the evening = 6.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to making more progress this evening!

P.S. Have you seen the “fun” little Countdown to Closing Ceremonies counter that Anny & her husband have put together? (See sidebar) The colors will move from green to yellow to red as Feb. 26th draws near. Just a little motivation to Knit On!

Like Father…Like Daughter

My first reaction to The Yarn Harlot’s call to “Citius, Alitius Fortius” was a bit of a chuckle. I have fond memories of Olympic crafting occuring in our house when I was growing up – specifically my Dad needlepointing. (A bit of history…my dad learned to needlepoint in the ’70s when he was on missile crew alert for 24 hours at a time underground in Kansas.) I remember the Needlepoint Winter Olympics of 1988 when my Dad worked on this piece – 18 years later it still hangs in the entry of the house (albeit a couple of states & homes removed from 1988).

From the 1988 Winter Olympics

For Christmas this past year I bought Dad this needlepoint kit – specifically looking ahead to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.

Poppy Pillow Needlepoint Kit

So, while I was casting on my for knit event in Chicago during the opening ceremonies Dad was starting his own Needle Games in Georgia.

Dad starting on the poppy

Even though Dad isn’t planning to finish his project in the course of the games it is fun to know that “Amy Artisan” & “Dad Artisan” are both needling along with the athletes.

A few notes about the 2006 needlepoint – it is perfect for our family for a couple of reason: The Tiffany glass style (the whole family loves Tiffany windows & Dad used to do stained glass) & the California poppy (Mom is a native Californian, my parents met in CA & I have fond memories of growing up there while in elementary school).

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