Dove Knits

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Elephant and Santa

Remember the elphant I started for my friend L's two-year-old? The one that turned out to be monstrously sized and I ran out of stuffing? I finally finished.

So here are the many sides of Elephant:

Turned the other way:

Head on:

Sideways (note the hugeness). He's disproportionately long, but it makes him look curious.


Pattern: from Kath Dalmeny's World of Knitted Toys
Yarn: the finest Red Heart acrylic
Needles: size 4, various
Time to complete: about a week and a half of knitting and sewing up. Relatively quick knit for his size.

I'm also toying with the idea of making my mom a set of Christmas tree ornaments like this one:

(From Jean Greenhowe's 28-page Christmas special; also in acrylic, of course; about 3-4 inches tall.)

She generally loves my toys, alot, but I'm not sure she'll like the teeny ones because they're harder to make and are therefore sloppier. Plus, even if she does like them, I'm not sure how she'd feel about a whole set on her tree...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cinderella, dressed in yella...

"I am so unhappy! I am sick of housework!"

"My skirt is so old and worn, I had to patch it. And the patches don't even match!"

"My beauty routine consists of putting my hair in pigtails. Really, people, PIGTAILS?"

"The only nice thing is my cool laced corset..."

"AGGHHH! I'm morphing! AAAGGGHHHHH!!!"

"Ahhh, that's much better, and I am much happier! Look at my lovely dress!"

"Even my hair is done up gorgeously!"

"And the roses trimming my dress all match perfectly! But they had to be knitted and sewn on one by friggin one..."

"Ooooh, look, the prince has noticed me and smiled! Off I go to perpetuate the stereotype that no woman is happy without a man!"

(Jean Greenhowe's topsy-turvy Cinderella, from the 28-page Christmas special. Various acrylics, mostly Caron Simply Soft and Bernat Satin. Took longer to finish than to actually knit, but was great fun. The dressy side will eventually have a bag, and the patched side will have a bucket. More projects eventually coming up.)

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Monday, October 16, 2006

And now for something completely different

Namely, handmade soap!

I made this from scratch last night. I've been meaning to make cold-process soap for over a year, and just now worked up the nerve to actually do it. So, here it is! I made it from a recipe in my soap book (which I got at Barnes&Noble on sale last year, starting my interest in soap), and it's made with a ton of olive oil, bits of coconut and palm oils, and beeswax.

It was pretty easy to do, as these things go. Basically, you measure out water and stir in lye, then melt and heat the oils and beeswax, and then, when the lye and oils are at the same temperature (specified in this particular recipe at 150F), pour the lye into the oils and stir, stir, stir.

Well, I got paranoid about the lye fumes and set the lye jar outside. (I was stupid and didn't have a face mask or eye protection! Bad Dove!) Of course, it's mid-October in Chicago, so the jar cooled too quickly, and by the time my oils were heated, the lye was too cold, so I spent the next TWO HOURS trying to warm up the lye by pouring boiling water (212F, remember) into a waterbath in which the lye sat. The lye REFUSED to heat above 130F, so I let the oils (which I kept having to heat and cool, also) cool to 130, and then mixed. I poured the lye into the oils rather quickly, so everything reacted quickly, but rather than seizing, I got a nicely mixed, buttercream-colored soap! I scooped it into my mold (the weighing dish from my digital scale) and let it set overnight. This morning, I unmolded it without mishap (no separation, no sludge, just creamy, pretty soap!) and cut it into 8 bars.

I'm planning on hand-milling it in two weeks, and using the shavings to make different soaps, so I did not add any essential oils or anything here, so I can't say it smells great -- it just smells like soap.

Among the possibilities for the types of soap I'll make out of this are:

-Spicy shaving soap for my husband, my dad, and my brother (combined into a Christmas present with a mug, new shaving brush, and a nice razor)

-Coffee-scented soap and chocolate-scented soaps for a couple of girlfriends

-Cornmeal-containing peppermint scrubby soaps

-Lavender and/or rosemary soaps

I know, I'm very ambitious for a batch this small (30 ounces), but, of course, I can always make more soap.


Monday, October 09, 2006

What I've been up to

Ever since the knitting frenzy of early September, I really haven't had much time to knit! The shawl and a pair of socks were the only things I finished since then, although I now have stuffing for the elephant. There's no excuse not to finish!

I did, however, start some new things, and I know that you're just DYING to see what they are.

First up, a sweater for J's baby girl (J, if you remember, will be the lucky recepient of these socks. This is the Robin Hood from Adorable Knits for Tots, in Swish superwash merino, Dublin colorway:

(I love it. It's so soft and the cables really pop. However, I don't have enough yarn and will need to get more. Darn.)

Speaking of J, I started a topsy-turvy Cinderella doll (by Jean Greenhowe, of course!) for her older daughter. I think she'll get a kick out of it, despite the random colors :) (please excuse them -- I was determined not to buy any more yarn!)

Here are the completed skirts and the almost-completed bodies/heads. The lavender is the dressy skirt, and the yellow is the patched Cinderella outfit. I converted everything to knitting in the round to save time on seaming, and am knitting both bodies in one piece. It's been slow, because I've been getting home at 8 in the evening every night, and then still have chores to do, so I've had no time to knit.

Finally, the Sweet Mary Jane cardigan, which is apparently no longer available on Knitpicks. Boo. It's a very easy, mindless knit, so I usually take it on the train. It's in Shadow, Lost Lake colorway.

I'm about 3-4 inches in so far. It'll take a while. A train ride makes maybe a row, so...

I went to a book fair at University of Chicago last weekend, and got a ton of books, all for $9 total. I got The Once and Future King and the 6th Harry Potter (hardbound, for $2! Brand-new looking, too!), and a bunch of books I would never pay full price for, like a book on taking care of household plants, and one on household tips and hints -- everything from getting out stains to first aid. I also got two sewing books (one from the 60s, one from the 80s), because I'd like to have a reference handy.

And, of course, knitting books! I bought 5 volumes of the 20-volume Stitch by Stitch series, which was put out in the 80s, and contains instructions and patterns for knitting, crochet, and sewing. While the patterns are outdated (although the kids' patterns, blankets, and even some adult wear are still just fine!), they seem to be really outstanding books! They illustrate, step by step (or stitch by stitch!) how to make different stitches and patterns, various techniques, etc. One of the volumes talks about modifying necklines, for example. Another illustrates making cables in crochet. And the illustrations are excellent! And each book contains 20-30 patterns, for everything -- men's and women's clothing, kids and baby clothes and accessories, home stuff, toys...

So I'm very pleased with them, and I went on Amazon to see if I could find more volumes. And I did! I found the whole set for $8 new, including shipping! So...I think I'll get it! Yay!

Oh, I also got my copy of Vogue Knitting, you know, the reference book, and am very happy with it.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Finished shawl!

I'm sure y'all have been awaiting the nice pictures of my finished and fixed shawl with bated breaths.

Well, it's been in my freezer to kill off any potential moth larvae, but it's come out for 24 hours before being stuffed back in, so I decided it was high time for a photo opp.

Hanging on the fence (it's not pinned or anything, it's just resting on the woodgrain!):

Hanging on another part of the fence:

A detail:


Pattern: Fir Cone Lace Shawl
Yarn: Knitpicks Shadow in Grape Jelly
Needles: Boye Needlemaster size 6
Finished size:pretty darn big -- 36 inches deep, 64 wide. It covers me from shoulders to butt, and I'm 5'8"
Time to complete: About 4 weeks of knitting, 6 months of being stumped, and a night and a morning of fixing
Lessons learned: Triangular shawls are knit so that what you knit as side edges actually form the top edge of the shawl. I also kinda learned darning. And getting rid of moths.

I am very happy with it now.

In other news, I just started a swatch for the Sweet Mary Jane cardigan, which means I've completed the little satchel that serves as the swatch. I just measured it, and am getting more stitches per inch than necessary, but since it's might just be due to how I stretched it. So I'm forging on.

The colors are Lost Lake and the leftover Grape Jelly (both Knitpicks Shadow). As you can see, I didn't turn my work inside out after being done with the top lacy part, so when the satchel is actually beribboned and filled, its top will hang inside out. Oops. I also need to get ribbon.

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