Category Archives: Uncategorized

CORDAGE FILET AND FINISHES

Over the holiday weekend, I found myself between projects, with a yen to play.  The summer adventure in yarn-bombing was the first time I’d touched crochet in years, and left me hungry for more, so I decided to try something off-beat.

I had a large cone of a rather industrial heavy cotton cordage.  It’s about worsted weight equivalent in thickness, but is much, much denser than regular cottons of that weight offered up for hand-knitting.  I got it at the old Classic Elite mill end store, when it was still co-located with the mill itself, before it moved into a location a few doors down from the mill, and long before it migrated down from Lowell.  I’ve used this yarn to model various lace knitting problems, relying on its size and durability to help me figure out the problem section before I tried the same bit in the fragile lace yarn being used for my main project.  But I’ve always wondered what else could be done with the stuff, so I decided to experiment. 

My first thought was a market bag, done in filet.  So I picked out a simple 35 unit square from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  It quickly became apparent that my gauge with a 3mm hook for this yarn wasn’t square.  I didn’t like the look of it for this style with a larger hook (filet should have a strong contrast between the solid and meshy areas), so I kept going, in spite of the skew.  In a fit of serendipity, while my finished proportions were way off for a bag, and I doubted I would have enough yarn for an effective throw, what I ended up with was perfect for a placemat (mug shown for scale).

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This crocheted up quickly, in one weekend.  I plan on doing as many more as my cone of string will allow.  A set of four for sure, probably six, and remotely possible – eight or four plus runner.  Oh.  With the wealth of 35×35 squares in the book above, each mat will be a different design.  Mostly mythical beasts.  Possibly some other motifs if I tire of those.

And I also have several finishes to report.  The most important is to finally post the baby blanket knit for new niece Everly, born to Jordan and Paul (the Resident Male’s brother) last week.  I had finished it some weeks ago, but I hesitated to post pix lest I spoil the surprise.  Yes, I did end off the ends and wash it prior to sending.  🙂

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A home-grown pattern, based on the Frankie Brown 10-stitch garter spiral concept, and an original edging previously posted here.  It’s knit in Bernat Handcrafter cotton (pink and cotton were special requests), a washable worsted weight yarn.

The other finishes include two pairs of socks.  Younger Daughter’s Bee Socks, plus a pair of “briefcase project” socks of my own. Pix of those when they are out of the wash, having already been integrated into our wardrobes. 

There’s also this scarf for me.  This one is based on Sybil R’s Little Rectangles pattern.  I changed the proportions of the blocks a bit to better suit the very short color segments of the Madelinetosh variegated merino fingering.  Note that the original called for two skeins of yarn (about 780 yards/722 meters), but my variant (about 5 inches x 80 inches/12.7 cm x 203 cm) used every scrap of just one skein, making it a spectacular but economical gift item.  Gauge is about 9 stitches = 1 inch; each little block is about 1” x .75 inch. 

Apologies for the blurry photo.  Artificial lights at dawn aren’t my forte.  The second detail shot is not color-true, but shows the garter construction a bit better.

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MORE BEACH!

Time for the annual promotional post here at String.

Love the beach?  Want to enjoy it up close and personal?  We have the place for you!

Our summer condo in North Truro, Cape Cod, right on the beach close to the Provincetown line is up and available for booking. for the summer 2017 season.

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View from the deck looking back towards Wellfleet, and sunset over Provincetown in the opposite direction (arrow on the map is back towards Wellfleet).

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We are at Beach Point, with parking for two cars, right at a bus stop for the local shuttle to Provincetown – a quick trip to restaurants, galleries, theater, and night life, with or without your car.

The condo is on the second floor, with a covered deck (the one with the red deck chairs, below).  The Shoreline development has its own private beach, and offers picnic tables, lounge chairs, kayak and bike racks, and grills to all who stay.

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The apartment itself is two bedroom, with a full kitchen (full size stove with oven, fridge and microwave, sink, coffee maker, blender, lobster pot).  It is air conditioned, and also has a washer and dryer, and a full bath with shower and whirlpool tub.

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There is TV in the living room and each bedroom, cable, and WiFi.  The bedrooms each have a queen-size bed, and the living room sofa also converts to a queen size bed.

Pricing and availability are listed at the agent’s website.  Prices vary by week, with significant savings in the shoulder seasons.

So, come and pull up a chair.  Put your feet up, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and feel the relaxation!

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ESCAPE KNITTING

So here we are at the beach again, seizing a weekend unoccupied by renters, to enjoy our place in North Truro.  It’s not as warm as it can be in full summer, but it’s plenty comfortable enough for lounging on the beach, wandering the shoreline, and nosing around Provincetown.

And what’s lounging on the beach without a knitting project?  It can be difficult to knit from a complex pattern on the beach – hard copy pages get damp, and tend to blow around.  It’s often too bright to knit from designs stored on the iPad, the screen washes out in the sun.  So I tend to look for projects that are mindless, memorized, or free-form.

So here’s the latest, photographed in full sun on our deck.

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I’m working entirely without a pattern, using a rustic style Aran weight wool.  I’ve got several skeins of well-aged Bartlett two-ply Maine wool, that are taking up all to much room in my stash boxes I’d prefer to put to other use.

I have a couple of heathered garnet red; a couple that are ragg-mix of one ply of the garnet, and one of a navy; and a couple of a medium blue which is too light to use in combo with the others.  None are enough for an entire adult sweater but it’s time they earn their keep.  Also the ragg style blue/red mix would overpower most texture work.  So what to do?

A unisex, simple raglan, worked top down was the obvious choice.  No pattern, no gauge.  I started by casting on 100 stitches, and working a rolled stockinette collar on a US #8 (5mm) needle.  I changed to a US #10 (6mm) needle.  I’ve now got about 172 stitches around – roughly a 44-45-inch chest circumference.  The fit is slouchy and sweatshirt-like, and the high lanolin content rustic yarn (though a bit itchier than Merino, and hand-wash) guarantees a hard wear sweater ideal for cool weather hiking, and winter sports.  It’s a bit small for me, but between spawn, and a huge army of nieces and nephews, plus lots of outdoorsy friends, it’s bound to fit someone.

So, what do I call this no-pattern piece?  The Wesley Crusher, of course.  Named for the ubiquitous shoulder-colorblock casual sweaters and uniform blouses worn by him and the rest of the STNG crew.

Minor discovery during the course of this one.  Many circular needles in larger sizes have a noticeable “bump” where the needle part slims down to the cable’s thin diameter.  It can be annoying to shuffle stitches up that steep incline as you knit in the round.  But you can minimize the problem if you are using an interchangeable needle set.  I’ve outfitted one of the circs with a size #10 on one end, and a #8 on the other.  Since stitch size and gauge is dictated by the needle you are using to form the stitches (as opposed to the one being knit from), the smaller size needle sits on the “feed” side of the round, and its slightly smaller diameter presents less of an impediment when shuffling the stitches around into “knit me” position.  Give it a try!

And in other knitting news, I have finished the leaf shawl/scarf:

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It looks like work/home will crawl back to a more manageable schedule, so I hope to be posting more regularly again in the weeks to come.  Next up is a tutorial on a simple method to finish out a sampler into a backed hanging.

BELATED FINISH

A very hectic month, between work and other obligations.  I’m glad to say we’ve gotten Younger Daughter off and installed at college, purple hair and all:

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And I finished her vintage shrug:

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An interesting project, this was a very quick knit, but it did take a bit of attention in finishing.  The instructions for seaming in the original are pretty rudimentary.  Here’s what I did, in case you want ot make one of these for your own:

  1. Leave stitches live instead of binding off the final row
  2. After blocking, graft live stitches to the cast on edge, taking care to match the drop stitch ribs.
  3. Next, sew up the two sleeves, using grafting along their finished edges.  Again, match the ribs.
  4. You now have the final seam left. Carefully match the center back seam to the center of the shoulder strip, and pin.
  5. Use mattress stitch to join the two strips together.

In effect, what you end up with is a T-shaped seam in the back, with the horizontal running between the lower edge of the armholes, and a vertical seam at the “spine” of the lower strip forming the center back.  Both are hard to see in my photo of the back because (to brag) I took great care with my grafting and seaming.

Quite pleased with this one.  Younger Daughter is into swing dancing, and will wear it not with t-shirts as shown, but with her 1940s/1950s-style dance dresses.

THE BEACH PLACE

And now, a blatant advertisement from the Management of String.

WANT BEACH?  WE HAVE IT, AND YOU CAN STAY THERE.

Seriously – we are now the happy owners of a beachfront condo in North Truro, Cape Cod – just one shuttle bus stop away from the Provincetown line. Our newly renovated two-bedroom upstairs unit is available for week-long rentals for the balance of the summer and through into September/early October.

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As you can see from this sand-side photo, the building is right on the beach, on the quiet bay side.  Our unit (indicated) has a covered private deck.  It sleeps six total, with two bedrooms (a queen size bed in each), plus a new queen-size sleeper sofa in the living room.  One bedroom has views of the bay beach, the other looks out on Pilgrim Lake.

It comes with a full, new kitchen, including a four-burner stove, oven, dishwasher, full size fridge, plus coffeemaker, blender and toaster.  There’s a full bathroom with both a stall shower and whirlpool tub; and an in-unit washing machine and dryer.

The great room has an eat-in table that seats a cozy six, and the aforementioned sofa in a comfy seating overlooking the bay.  The unit is also air conditioned, with WiFi and cable TV (including HBO) in the living room, and additional flat screen cable TVs in both bedrooms.

Outdoor amenities include full access to the private beach; two numbered, reserved parking places; a grill/picnic area open to all residents; bicycle racks; and a stop for the Provincetown shuttle bus directly in front of the building.

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The address is 556 Shore Road, Unit #12, North Truro, MA in the Shoreline development (the map arrow points back to Wellfleet, and ultimately, the mainland.)
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UPDATE:  We have changed our rental agent. You can reserve the unit on-line via Kinlan-Grover – the unit code is WSALA.

I leave you with a sunset picture of Provincetown, taken from our deck.  Admit it – you really want to get away and admire this view in person.

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A HECTIC WEEKEND, WITH MORE TO COME

We’re in the final glide path to high school graduation here, plus birthdays.  We spent the weekend cleaning and gardening like crazy – and there’s still a ton to do.

That means removing a frosting of construction dust from every surface of the house; unpacking and placing the remaining kitchen goods (sorting out stuff to save for future spawn-apartments, or for charitable donation); washing all the floors; replacing the rugs stowed away from the chaos; waking up the garden from winter doldrums; building the new bean trellis out of last year’s giant grass canes; planting the beans; attacking the colonizing blanket of unwelcome weeds in the flower beds; staking the peonies; scrubbing down the bathrooms (similarly affected by construction dust); and generally putting everything to order.  We didn’t finish, but we put a huge dent in it all. That means no time spent on detailed photography of the new orderly and in-service kitchen, and precious little time on needlework or knitting (although I did finish the last of my stack of Birthday (and Un-Birthday) socks in time).  Plus the normal weekend regimen of cleaning and cooking for the ensuing week. I am now exhausted just tallying it all up.

Here is what I can report photographically.

The kitchen works!  This is old news already – The Resident Male making short ribs last weekend:

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Younger Daughter and The Denizen got all decked out for the Senior Prom.  The went with a herd of friends, and had a great time.

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Spiffy, no?

And we had an amazing joint birthday cake – home-baked, of course, courtesy of Younger Daughter.  She used the America’s Test Kitchen Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake recipe in her first trial run of the new ovens.  Oh, so good!

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SO CLOSE I CAN ALMOST TASTE IT…

We’re finally closing in on the last leg of the Great Kitchen Rehab.

Cabinets are in.  Appliances are in and working.  Most of the drawer and cabinet pulls are installed.  The protective covers on the tile floor, soapstone counters, and range hood are gone.  All that remain are the missing pulls (the hardware order was short), a minor electrical fix on the overhead fan and its controls, final clean-up plus oiling down the soapstone, and painting.

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Most of the missing pulls are cup-style, as seen on the left, below.  And one detail that wasn’t seen before is the leaded glass panel suspended in front of the transom window.  Apologies for the odd lighting – it’s tough to get a photo of a clear window in the late evening.

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The backsplash extends across the entire wall below the cabinets on the sink side, and behind the rangetop, under the window and up the other side of the window (a skinny strip) on the other side of the room.  The end wall surrounding the door to the dining room is bare.

The soapstone will darken considerably when oiled/waxed.

The painter should start next Monday, possibly earlier if he is available.  It’s just the one room, so it shouldn’t take long.  The walls are a very pale dove grey, with the now-poplar-color window, door and baseboard trim done in an enamel, one click darker.  The ceiling will be white.

After painting we have the next challenge – moving everything back into the kitchen, figuring out where it goes and stowing it all safely away.  I’ve already ordered oilcloth to line the pull-out drawers of the pantry, so with luck we’ll avoid those sticky circles under bottles of oil or molasses, that happen no matter how carefully they are wiped down.

The next post on the kitchen rehab will be the last one, with everything done, plus a before and after set to finally banish the ghosts of the vaguely Colonial style cherry veneer that used to be.

What will we cook first in our new kitchen?  Hmmm…..

THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM

I’m still plugging away on the Mixed Wave pattern scarf for Elder Daughter:  It’s based on a cowl pattern of the same name.

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Now, why has it taken me two full rip-back and start again cycles on this one?  Mostly because I can’t resisting tweaking here and there when I work from a pattern.

In this case, the recipient and I decided that a narrower piece was more desirable for wear with the target coat.  So I removed a ten-stitch unit.  Then we jointly decided that instead of two contrasting colors, we wanted to use three, in combo with our neutral color (black).  It’s hard to see here, but I’ve got a cranberry red, a maroon, and a variegated that ranges from cranberry through maroon, with shots of turmeric here and there. After that it was the traditional matter of Not Paying Attention, forgetting to move counting markers, and getting incredibly tangled from all of the flipping as the short row segments (the almond shapes) are formed*.  And let’s not forget the last forgetting – neglecting to make sure that stitch count was stable after every left and right edge segment pair.

But I’ve got it well in hand now.  I’m even beginning to remember to alternate left and right leaning almonds, along with choosing which segment to work as an almond, cycling through the colors, and remembering to work the row-beginning decreases and row-ending increases that give the piece its rhomboid slant.

I will continue on this piece, making it a bit longer than the original, and eventually either graft it into a true infinity scarf, or finish it off as a straight scarf with pointed ends.  We’ll see how my well my composure handles the all-too-frequent stopping to untangle.

 

*  Yes, I know the trick of always flipping clockwise on front side and counter-clockwise on wrong side rows of the short row sequence.  It isn’t helping.

IT’S GETTING CLOSER!

Don’t look behind you and duck, I’m only talking about The Second Carolingian Modelbook.  Here’s the tentative cover

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It’s getting closer to publication.  I am NOT ready yet to take pre-orders, but when I am, I’ll post here.

What it will have:

  • 180 or so pages, including 75 plates of graphs – 50 line unit, 25 block unit.
  • Over 250 individual patterns, with museum citation sources, degree of fidelity to the source, and (when available) date and provenance, plus height and repeat width stitch counts.
  • Articles on stitching methods, commonly used names for the styles, etc.
  • Index, source bibliography, research bibliography
  • Photo illustrations of some of the patterns, worked.

To chivy myself along towards completion I post my to-do list:

  • Finish the description and how-to photos of the meshy stitch, so often used as background in historical voided pieces

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  • Finish the last few entries in the index
  • Correct some of the earliest drafted pages, updating a typo in the background frame

Once these things are done I can do final prep for electronic publication, and finish up the legal/infrastructure needs of setting up the business end of the offering.

I know everyone has been VERY patient.  I promise the thing will be worth the wait.

FLYING HIGH

Regular readers here know I rarely post anything work-related. Today however, I make an exception.

The team here at CyPhy Works has launched a kickstarter for a new photography drone – the CyPhy Worsk LVL 1 – a hex-copter simple enough for anyone to fly. LVL 1 is the first drone for absolutely everybody.

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Click on the photo above for a cool video, or here for the full Kickstarter page.  I’m enthused about the thing because I’m really proud of and impressed by the men and women here who invented it.

LVL 1 is controlled with a simple Smart Phone app. It employs a novel flight technology, so photos and videos stay steady and true. There’s a whole raft of tech features including geo-fencing –the ability to pace off a flight arena, to keep the thing corralled in a manageable area, and the ability to post your pix and vids to your social networking platform of choice in real-time. It’s a ton of fun to fly, and even has practical uses beyond hobby, nature, and family photography. For example, it can be used to check out roof damage after a storm, or to inspect solar panels, gutters, or other inaccessible home or business areas.

Plus, as Helen our Fearless Leader says – “Robots are cool!”