So, I got a request from a friend for some earrings for her mother-in-law’s Christmas present. I went digging around in my stash and found some carnelian teardrops I always wanted to wrap with wire and did that. I practiced a bit with some damaged and/or super cheap stones first, so in the end I was able to do this reasonably gracefully:
I think she’ll like them, but I also wanted to do some alternate things–and why not. I’ve certainly got the materials.
Lots and lots of materials. All over the place. (And a new work bench, did I mention this? My husband made it for me last month. I absolutely love it.)
I spent a lot of time digging up beads and findings and wire and whatever else, moving things around and trying to pair this with that. I forgot how difficult it could be to come up with something that actually works physically, practically, and aesthetically. I’ve decided that until class starts again in mid-January, I’m just going to play around with all this stuff I’ve been accumulating and actually make things without worrying too much about what I’m “using up” and whether I’m just wasting it. (Honestly, a lot of it isn’t great quality anyway, so why not have fun?) I need to get that creative mindset back. So far, I’ve got these going on:
I stamped these washers, what, two years ago?
Bought a bunch of Swarovski beads & danglies three years ago . . .
And went nuts over little silver-over-pewter beads that, in truth, tarnish easily and weren’t worth buying.
Aside from that, I’ve got something going on that I’ve been meaning to do–a project from a book that I actually made a copper piece for some months ago. I’ll get to that next time.
That’s a pretty dopey title, but (1) I did make a skirt of sorts this month, and (2) any excuse to use this awesome 60s fashion photo is all right by me:
He Skirt by Dorcus
And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a little Jacques DuTronc!
Okay now. My project, based on the Retro Ripples Skirt in a 2009 issue of Crochet Today, is a miniskirt for my 4ft. Christmas tree.
It’s “mini” because I started with fewer stitches (73, although I think 83 would have been perfect) and made fewer rounds than the pattern called for. I also changed it up a bit by making it almost entirely white (on Ravelry, though, there are some real stunners with lots of stripes for a truly retro look.) My goal was to use up a ton of old sport weight acrylic my mom gave me years ago, and I succeeded in that by using a double length throughout. I also got rid of a bit of very old green and red worsted weight Red Heart, so I’m happy. And I like to make at least one holiday thing every year if possible, so that’s done.
As you might remember, I was working on jazzing up the 20 gauge hammered band I made last year in beginner’s class. It was a bit uneven (first time I ever used the cutting shear, what can I say), the seam was awfully visible, and I just never loved it. So, since this round of classes was all about bezel practice, I decided to slap a stone on it. Well, not slap: do a good job on. So I rolled out a strip of 20 gauge sterling in the rolling mill (it was probably about 22 gauge in the end) and got down to work.
Now this, I love! The stone is probably a smoky quartz (it came from an inexpensive grab bag of cabochons) and it gave me a bit of trouble. The bezel I made was just perfect . . . until I soldered it and found it was now just a bit too small. I cleaned out the inside of the bezel box with files and grinding tools, and that worked just fine. I made sure it it had a good 45 degree angle around the rim and a neat, subtle notch at the point. After that, my problem was actually moving the metal, because this ain’t no 28 gauge fine silver strip. This is hard.
I didn’t have anything at home that would really do a good job, but in the studio I found a nice bezel pusher (it looks like a small square rod of steel with a wooden handle on one end.) I put the ring into a vise (with protective leather on each side!) and held down the stone with some fingers while sort of holding the pusher in place with some other fingers and gently hammering with the other hand. It was a bit awkward, getting at all the sides, but I went back and forth and got it done. (I don’t know if it was strictly necessary, but I’ve read that it’s best to set the point first, so I did that.) After that I used a burnisher to get the edge smooth and nice. I definitely want to get both of those tools for home, not to mention one of those vise clamps with a ball socket so you can get at all angles more easily. Ah, someday.
Here’s the way the band originally looked, by the way.
It still has some tool marks and such on the inside, which I will take care of in January when I (fingers crossed) have my very own flex shaft at home. If not, I can do it in the next round of classes, especially since the studio just received a donation of a bunch of flex shafts–enough to have one at each of the ten benches now. Yay!
Well, five months, three audio books, who knows how many movies and t.v. shows and . . . it’s done. I am done with the Kayleen Pullover.
Whew! There are a few areas around the seams and such I wish could have been smoother (literally smoother–worsted weight cotton shows up lumps and bumps like nobody’s business) but overall I think it went well and looks fine. (Blocking might help, too.) It was harder than I thought this “simple” pattern would be, but challenge is good.
Just for a laugh, look how much yarn I have left. Boy, did I cut it close!
I understand it’s good to keep a bit of leftover in case of repairs in future. Maybe even wash some of it every time you wash the sweater, so it ages at the same rate. Not a bad idea.
Before I move on, I just want to share a picture of me knitting with my old kitty, Mongo. He hadn’t been in great health for a while, and his time to pass on came this week. As difficult as it could be to knit with a cat in your lap, I often made an effort to let him do it because I’m sure the warmth was good for his old bones.
He’s been a part of my life for ten years and I miss him. Maybe I’ll make a piece of tribute jewelry for him soon, I don’t know.
If you have any idea what that title means, you have obviously seamed a sweater before.
It’s not hard to do, but there are things to learn, and so I’ve procrastinated a bit on getting down to the set-in sleeves of my Kayleen pullover. Seriously, I had to search around the web and learn horizontal-to-horizontal seaming, horizontal-to-vertical, vertical-to-vertical (oh wait, that’s just good ol’ mattress stitch!) and all THAT was just for the stockinette side. The front of this sweater is reverse stockinette, so . . . ? Turns out it’s not hard to seam, but you have to pay attention to which stitches you’re picking up (and how cute: those that curve up are smiles, and those that curve down are frowns.)
So, here’s where I am today.
All those ends . . . all those ends to weave in . . .
I’m not 100% sold on how those seams look, but I do appear to be doing them very neatly and in accordance with the pictures in the pattern (note: pattern is no help in matters of seaming.) I’m a bit afraid that (1) left will not match right and (2) I’m going to run out of yarn before I can do the applied I-cord around the neck and sleeves.
Still, there’s a certain meditative concentration to this that I like, constantly focused on just where to put the needle next. I . . . think I enjoy it!
My idea of fun these days.