Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aunt Mug's Bed Jacket

With my fascination of vintage (or just plain old) stuff, I searched around on eBay one day and came up with this pattern booklet. It doesn't have a copyright date on it, but from the looks of it, I'd say maybe '30s? or '20s? It's hard to tell. I love the baby clothes ... and the bed jackets! I wonder why bed jackets ever went out of fashion? Maybe people don't do enough sitting up in bed with their morning coffees and newspapers anymore!
At any rate, my wonderful Aunt Mug is scheduled for hip-replacement surgery in June ... on her 81st birthday, no less! So, I decided I'd knit her a bed jacket for her stay in the hospital and the rehab facility ... and why not for home, too, when she gets back?
It was a super easy pattern to follow once I figured out what contemporary size needles and yarn would be equivalent to those listed. I even tried to find vintage skeins of Patons Princess yarn, but couldn't come up with the right thing.
I settled on a US size 10 1/2 needle for the old UK size 1 needle ... and a US size 7 for the UK size 7. They seemed to match the photographs fairly well. I used Cascade Pima Cotton yarn in sort of a seafoam color. I had to teach myself how to crochet the shell edging ... and, as my good friend and knitter/crocheter/embroiderer extraordinare suggested, I really should have doubled the yarn as I worked the shells so that it would end up as heavy as the jacket, itself. Sigh. I ran out of time and left them as they were, only doubling the yarn on the cuffs.
 The old pattern booklet.
 This is what it looks like ...
This is what it's supposed to look like.

All in all, not bad. I hope she likes it ... and that it actually will be a useful gift. (I'm also sending the miniseries of Little Dorrit for when she's sitting in bed, wearing her bed jacket and sipping coffee ... or tea, perhaps.)

Sophie's Park Excursions: Reedy Creek Park

The next park: Reedy Creek Park. This one is off of WT Harris Blvd, right near the Cato Campus of Central Piedmont Community College.

 There are plenty of forks along the paths ... hard to choose which direction to follow!

The sign points to "lakes" ... so there must be many more than this pond we happened upon.
I was here a long time ago when my now-adult children were elementary-school aged. Let me tell you, I'd completely forgotten just how enormous this park is! It's got acres and acres of nature trails for walking. It's got a pond where you can fish. It's got many different areas with swings and playground equipment for the kids ... even one area where everything is made completely from wooden logs. It has a small nature museum where classes are sometimes held. There are lots and lots of picnic-shelter areas and buildings for activities. It also boasts a pretty big fenced-in dog park, although we didn't go inside. The paths are like the Mint Hill Park on Fairview's paths ...wide and bright and easy on the feet. There are so many trails and woods that it can be a little intimidating. The day we went, we just took one path and turned around after awhile and came back.
I've not had nearly enough time to explore everything that this park has to offer. We'll definitely be back!

Sophie's Park Excursions: Mint Hill Park

The next park on the list: The Mint Hill Park on Fairview Road. We really like this park very much. It's super clean. It has a couple of age-defined playgrounds, ball fields, very nice tennis courts and a 3/4 mile nature trail. The trail has a very wide path on which to walk, which makes me feel really good, for some reason. It circles around, so that by the time you're ending the walk, you're just about back where you started.
There are a couple of picnic shelters, but not as many as Idlewild Park. There is also a Frisbee (or Disc) golf course and a few exercise stations posted along the way. It's very easy to get to from 218, off of Highway 51.

 I'm ready! Let's go!
 This sign is a little ominous at first glance, but I guess one should never walk along a nature trail alone.
 Benches are tucked away along the paths. See how nice and wide the paths are? No tree roots here!
 Sophie doing what Sophie loves best: Sniffing!
It's quite tranquil down in the middle of the trail, yet it's not nearly as lonely, dark and dank as Idlewild Park. All in all, this park is really great. We've been back lots of times so far.

Sophie's Park Excursions: Idlewild Park

Our dog trainer said, "A tired puppy is a good puppy." SO, with that in mind, I have been trying to take Sophie for a walk in the park every day. Coincidentally, at the caregiver support group that I attend, we are to make a plan each week to do something that we want to do. It doesn't have to be a big plan, it just has to be something, put down in writing, that we will really try to do for ourselves each week. For instance, I have been meaning to exercise more, but I just never seem to have time. Hey! Guess what? Tiring out Sophie and walking for exercise can be done at the same time! (I just love multi-tasking!)
To make it a little more interesting, I decided I would take Sophie to every park in the Charlotte area. I intend to take a couple of photos and write a little something about each one.
Here's the first: Idlewild Park.
 This park is pretty convenient, as it's only a few miles away.
 Sophie and I were confused by this ... we think someone must have made a mistake. Surely they can't really mean a 6" leash!!! Perhaps they meant a 6' leash!
 It's very dark and damp down in the middle of the nature trail, but Sophie didn't mind it a bit.
 There is a little bit of a creek that's very clear ... and some interesting trees.
 In addition to the nature trail/paths through the woods, this park also has several playground areas with some sort of outdoor padded flooring. There are swings, slides, balance beams, jungle-gym type of things ... along with a Frisbee (or just plain Disc) golf course. There are lots of picnic-table shelters, outdoor grilling areas and a couple of ball fields. There are, of course, rest rooms, too. The park is pretty big. The only negatives we found were the vast amount of bugs (probably from the damp conditions) and lots of tree roots bulging out of the narrow paths. Also, it feels kind of lonely when you're in the middle of the woods. I'd definitely not go alone.
Well, I had a good time!

Let the Wheeless/Walker Project Begin!

I have been all over the place with my knitting lately ... starting a project, then getting an idea for something else and starting that ... ordering tons of books, beads, sequins, sparkly threads, embroidery floss, new yarns I've never used before and the list goes on and on. I don't really have a complete explanation for it, except that I know I want to expand my knowledge base ... and venture out of my comfort zone. I want to try new things and challenge myself just to see if I can do it! Don't get me wrong, I still love designing toys ... and I have been working on a whole batch of new ones.
However, as much as I love toys, I'd also like to experiment with accessories ... from vintage-inspired hats to special hand bags and unique novelties that reflect an earlier era. Beginning this journey, I've been led down a path of learning new stitches and new techniques. Let me clarify that: I should say, new to me, rather ... as these are actually very old techniques and old stitches!  And that's how I came upon the not-so-knew idea of working on swatches. Not just any swatches, mind you, but swatches with a goal. I'm sure you're familiar with Barbara Walker's treasuries of knitting stitches. I recently purchased volumes I, II and III. I love every one. There are so many incredible stitch designs jam-packed into each one, I want to knit them all! And, in fact, when you read the beginning of the first treasury, Barbara insists that these stitches must be knit to be realized. You have to read the book with knitting needles and yarn in hand, trying each out as you go along. And then it hit me! That's exactly what I'm going to do! AHA! And that's when I came up with the Wheeless/Walker Project.
Remember the Julie/Julia Project blog that had the office-worker-by-day Julie Powell cooking every recipe in the Julia Child cook book? Well, I decided, why not take every stitch pattern in each of Barbara Walker's treasuries (starting with the first, of course), and knit it? I don't know if I'll make it all the way through, but why not give it a try? Swatches are small, and fairly quick to finish. (It seems I'm all about small projects these days.) AND wouldn't it be great to have a ton of interesting swatches to design something super special when I'm totally finished??? Or even not! Just take all the swatches and catalog them in a big binder for reference. It would make a great tool, don't you think?
One thing: I am not going to get hung up on correct gauge or blocking or anything else. I'm merely trying every stitch to get the feel of it. This is definitely not going to be a perfectionist kind of project.
If you're interested in more about swatches from other knitters working in the Barbara Walker Treasuries, take a look at The Walker Treasury Project. TONS of participants are knitting their swatches and submitting them to this project. I have to admit, my project somewhat pales in comparison; however, making myself photograph and write a little about each one will encourage me to continue my humble attempts.

Okay: Here goes. I started off on the first entry in the book, which is really four stitch variations in one. The simple garter stitch (all knit), followed by stockinette (knit rows/purl rows), followed by crossed stockinette and, finally, on top, twisted stockinette ... both of these are, as the name implies, using stockinette, only inserting the needle differently (through the back, for instance).
I have used Elle Pure Gold yarn for these first two swatches. If you click on the photo, it will get a little bigger and you can see the stitches a little better. I think I'll choose a different color font next time for the lettering of each separate little patch of knitting.

 You can tell that each patch became tighter and tighter as I went along ... the garter-stitch patch being the most relaxed of all four. If I were to use any of these stockinette variations in a project, I'd have to loosen up. Those twisted stitches are super tight! AAACKK!

The second swatch includes the seed stitch (bottom), the moss stitch and, on top, the double seed stitch. I really like the seed stitch patch a lot. In fact, I can see this stitch being put to good use as borders for things. It looks very rich to me and it's very easy to do. Wouldn't it look nice embellished with beads and/or sequins?
Coming up next: The Sand Stitch and the Dot Stitch (also known as the Spot Stitch). Check back soon for more updates!