Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Bag

The past few weeks I have been lucky enough to have several days off of work, and I've been keeping myself busy. I started this bag over the summer, and have been gradually working away at it.
Each of those blue circles were sewn by machine and turned inside out. There are slits in the blue where they were turned. Then I sewed them together into the shape above. I put batting and the green batik in the centers of the circles and am in the process of stitching each of these down by hand. Once all of the batting is in, I think the bag will have a good deal of structure. I love the way it is coming together.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knitting for others:

I usually make things for myself. I don't feel guilty about it: I knit for myself, both my mind and my wardrobe. I'm getting to the point where I wear something I've made almost every day, but I still have a list of things I'm working on. I have worked on things for a few other people I'm close to, but it's not frequent.

Until the end of August. A dear friend of mine emailed me and asked if I would be able to knit shrugs for three bridesmaids for a wedding in November. I wasn't sure about it, but I agreed. Yarn was purchased, and a pattern was determined.

This is the yarn, Webs Merino Tencel in the Grape Jelly colorway. I'm using it double stranded for an almost-worsted yet still lacy gauge. The knitting goes pretty quickly, but I'm going to have to fiddle a bit with the finishing to make sure it fits their needs.

The only problem? I am halfway done with the shrugs (finishing not included) and have less than three weeks left. Hmm! I know where I'll be during this time!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Little Behind the Times

I have some summer knitting that I'm finishing up this weekend -- just as the heat is about to turn on. It is part of the cotton kick I have been on, and let me tell you, I can't wait until I cast on for my next new project so I can use 100% wool.

The yarn for this is great, though -- it's Elann Sonata in a burnt orange color. It's a deep, rich color and it shows off the texture pattern very well.

This is the Josephine Top by Deborah Newton (in last summer's Interweave Knits). I'm not the only person knitting this pattern, or even in this color. I'm happy with the pattern and am now almost finished with it, except I have a problem: I might not have enough yarn. I'm carefully reorganizing the order in which I do the finishing steps (the neckline, the cap sleeves, the bottom edging) to make sure I have enough. Then all it will need is a good wash, and I may be able to wear it before the warm weather disappears completely. I also think that this pattern will look good as a layer, so it might get even more use before next summer.

So, soon this will be officially off the needles, and I will only have two things on the needles. But also 3 projects that are only half complete (Laila's Socks, Mom's mittens, and one more sock) so there are many unfinished ends. It's kind of hectic.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Red Strip After Red Strip

So in April I was at home and finishing up a quilt, and my mom said to me, "I would love something like that on my kitchen table." I had been eyeing a pattern (Bargello) in Stashbuster Quilts (by Lynne Edwards) that used strip piecing techniques to create a quilt with a wave pattern. I bought the fabric for it right away, and then started the project in August. The blocks came together pretty quickly:

You start with color strips that are sewn from light to dark, and form a tube with the strips.

You cut the strips into various widths (the smallest one there in the center is 3/4" wide) and rip one of the seems forming the tube.
The strips then form a nice, neat pattern of undulating waves.

And then you sew. Something this wide (about 22 inches) ends up looking like this:
Each block ends up being about 16". (I haven't gotten around to measuring them exactly, yet, but that's the ballpark figure.)

Above: A block and a half. Do you see the penny for scale? I love the tiny, itty bitty pieces.

Six blocks sewn together equals this:

This is the way it will be oriented when it is finished.

Now, I'm not intended on making a full quilt with batting for a table. I'm going to layer this top with another one (more on that later) and use a layer of flannel in the middle. It's going to serve more of a decorative function than anything else, and no -- the table is not in a place that receives a huge amount of sunlight that will bleach out all of these beautiful reds too quickly. It's still a departure from tradition, but I'm enjoying it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fair Isle Socks

I spent the summer exploring new things: new places, new crafts, new organization and new techniques. One thing I decided to explore further was fair isle knitting.

Up until I made these mittens, I wasn't completely sold on colorwork. It was interesting, but it just took too long to knit, and I still conjoured up thoughts of reindeer sweaters when I thought of it. Not that there's anything wrong with reindeer sweaters, they just aren't a style I would like to wear out in public.

Enter Laila's Socks. This pattern must have been knit close to 1000 times already. (Or so it seems. I just checked on Ravelry and there are only 47 projects.) It's a great colorwork pattern for socks because you don't need to carry the second color of yarn with you around each of the rows. I decided a long time ago that they would be my first attempt at socks with a fair isle pattern.
About a year ago I found this Essential Tweed yarn at Knitpicks. I loved the slight contrast between the slate blue and the deep brown tweed yarns, and ordered enough for my socks. I don't like to knit my socks out of very light yarn -- I just imagine the soles getting terribly dirty and the socks getting ruined. I liked the idea of a fair isle sock that would only reveal its pattern to someone nearby. When the yarns came I wasn't sure they would work together: the values of the two colors seemed very close. I procrastinated a while after the yarn came, and started these socks around July. The first was finished over a weekend, and then other things got in the way. I have a few other things I need to get off the needles before I can cast on for the second one.

I like the way the sock has the looks of colorwork without being double thick. One of my other concerns about the pattern and stranded socks in general was that they might not fit in any of my shoes. That isn't even a concern with this pattern, as most of the rows are knit single-stranded.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Over the summer, we did some organization of our apartment. This included buying another bookcase for all of the things that have yet to find a home. I also had to go through my stash and reorganize it once again. Ikea to the rescue!

As always with Ikea furniture, the assembly process was a little tedious. Astro fit perfectly in the shelves of the new Expedit bookcase from Ikea. The shelves even match him! I now have a place for baskets of supplies, toolboxes and even my sewing machine.

Best of all, the bookshelf holds everything that has a function while still being very discreet. No one would ever know that my sewing accessories are in the basket, or my knitted swatches are in the tin behind the candles! I do need to organize it a little bit more -- I'm thinking about making some fabric boxes for the rest of the organization.

I also unearthed some of my oldest Ikea furniture. This is just a plain pine utility shelf that I refinished in a dark stain. At one point this functioned as my dresser/closet, and now it's the stash. I have four of the white bins with my fabrics (along with some other fabrics elsewhere), and the yarns are in the larger green bins. Everything is organized by function: my worsted weight yarns are together and sock yarns are together; upholstery weight fabric is separate from quilting fabric and apparel fabric.

I think I could probably keep myself entertained for quite a while with what I've built up. I keep on wanting to purchase new yarn for other specific projects, though. Given the current status of things, I might be quite happy that I have such an abundant stash in the future, though!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuxedo Camisole

In the beginning of the summer I went on a kick knitting with cotton. I have knit almost exlusively with wool since I started, with the exception of a few dishcloths.

This was knit with what has been my favorite cotton yarn to date: Knitting Fever's Intermezzo DK.

I love the crispness of the stitches in the lacework. I actually wore this to work today.

I love the lace bib of this pattern, and the details of the purl buttons. It is an A-line shaped top, which is comfortable, but if I were going to make another version of this, I would definitely make the waist more fitted.

I'm not sure if I'm sold on knitting with cotton. The summer sweaters are so heavy that I don't get much use from them; they also are difficult for me to wash without a washing machine. I will be knitting some more of them, but I can't wait to get back to knitting with wool! And it's that time of year.

Pattern: Sleeveless Tuxedo Shirt, Interweave Knits Summer 2007
Yarn: Knitting Fever Intermezzo DK, 4 balls
Completed: July, 2008
Modifications: Knit 8 rows of garter stitch at the bottom of the sweater to prevent the reverse stockinette from rolling inward.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The best so far....

Towards the beginning of this year one of my closest friends told me she was expecting her first child. Immediately, I started planning what I would give Baby. I knew I wanted something handmade and special, and I began to look for some great kid-friendly fabrics. I wanted lots of color, recognizable prints and a classic color palette. Nobody knew whether Baby would be a boy or a girl, but I knew it would be okay if I stuck with stronger tones.

When I browsed through ReproDepot I found several prints that just happened to work together, and ordered a yard of each. Later on, I found a few more at Joann Fabrics, as well. This all happened in June and July.

Once the fabric was in hand, I needed to begin to think about the quilt I would make. I wanted something I Spy-like, where the novelty prints would be front and center. Something a little scrappy, where there was plenty of new stuff to see without getting sensory overload. The parents like edited and clean, so I had to keep this in mind, too. I decided on making big I Spy blocks, about 6.5" square, surrounded by a border print or solid.

This is my favorite block, personally: giant turtles tesselating through bubbly water. After I made each of the blocks, I had to make a decision about the quilting. I sew on an old featherweight, and the throatplate is tiny. It would be impossible for me to quilt an entire quilt on that machine right now, especially given that my quilting skills are not the most refined. (Yet. I'm going to get there.)

It's a good thing I had so much time to mull this project over, because sometime between purchasing the fabrics and sewing the intial blocks I reread the book Sensational Sashiko. I had looked at it when I first purchased it, even before I made any quilts, and have browsed through it occasionally. Never before did I notice the technique for quilting blocks separately and then joining them together using sashing. I made a test scrap using the instructions in the book and it worked out -- the batting nestled together and it all looked proper.

The problem was, what would I do for the second side? I needed blocks that were the same size, and I could do something a little scrappier. I also wanted something that could keep a child's interest as he or she grew up. So I decided to make tic-tac-toe blocks using scraps of fat quarters and fabrics I already had. I quilted each of the squares, paying close attention to the orders of the blocks -- not only did I have to match up the right front and back blocks together, but I also wanted to get the orientation right. Each block was quilted with parallel lines 1" apart. I wanted to quilting lines to indicate that each square was quilted individually (and also to avoid mismatching lines through the sashing), so I arranged the quilting lines vertically in every other block and horizontally in the rest.

After each block was quilted, I assembled all of the blocks and put the border on the quilt. There was a lot of hand sewing for this part, as each of the white sashing strips needed to be sewn down by hand and I also sewed the binding by hand.

A Baby Quilt for V.
It was all worth it, though. I am so happy with the way this quilt came out! These pictures are before washing -- after I washed it it crinkled up and is really cosy.

I labeled the quilt on the back with Baby's name and birthday, packed it up, made a tag and mailed it off, and they love it. Each of them has their favorite squares, and baby boy is doing well.

Project Specs:
Pattern: My own
Fabric: from Repro Depot and Joann Fabrics, various designers including Alexander Henry, Eric Carle, Denise Schmidt and others.
Finished: September 9, 2008
Contents: 100% Cotton

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's all a blur

Finally, some new pictures for the blog.

My computer hard drive crashed, and the photo-editing software needed to be reloaded. Since we take raw images, we needed the software for the images to be read, and it took a while. I'm sorry.

In the meantime, something big happened in my family.

It was a crazy weekend: two cakes, four loaves of bread and three full meals. No knitting, sewing or quilting, but plenty of baking. These cakes are made by scratch with nothing more than flour, eggs, sugar and the basics. Including the frosting.

Yes, 100. That's my grandmother. I'm holding the second cake that's on its way to the table in a blur. Happy 100th birthday, grandma!

(Oh, and my grandma's best friend, who made the trip across the country to be with her, said that my pie crust was as good as hers. That's one of the best compliments I've ever heard in my entire life, given that I have been hearing about her own talents in the kitchen since I can remember.)

Up next: reorganization, quilts and socks.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Empty Spools

As you can see, I've been busy. All of those bobbins were full a week ago, and the spools of thread, too. One great thing about quilting is that I get to use up all my extra thread on my bobbins.

I know you're supposed to match the thread content to your fabric content. In theory I agree with it, but the practical side of me likes using up every last inch of thread in my bobbins. Especially when piecing and such.

I've been thinking about this project since May, and it's finally finished. Much of the thread was used in it, and I can't wait to show you. You'll have to wait a few more weeks, though. It needs a good, supervised washing, and for that I need to be around a washing machine I can control more than the laundromat ones. I'm looking forward to the crinkly goodness that will come out of the dryer.

The rest of the thread was used to make these:

This is only one of them, but there are really six. And what you can't see is that each of these strips is 44" long. This is going to be a present for my mother. Another one of those promised gifts that I am terribly late on delivering. The goal for this one is September 18th, which might prove to be difficult. The strips are going to turn into a quilted tablecloth, and we would love to use the tablecloth to celebrate my grandmother's 100th birthday. (I have good genes, I guess!)

The hard part about that will be quilting the tablecloth, since my machine only has a small throat. I might try to do some hand embroidery instead. We'll see how close I come!

There is also a reason I've been sewing more than knitting. I have 5 stitches in my left hand index finger that I got while (rotary) cutting some strips for the projects I've shown you. It's healing nicely, and I went last week to get them removed, only to hear I need them in for another week. I can knit, and have been a little, but haven't been able to do too much of it. I am, however, PLANNING a lot of knitting. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mittens in the Middle of Summer

I have a horrible tendency to promise my mother I'll make her something for, say, Christmas, and then be very tardy with the project's completion.
Here is the first (unlined and thumbless) mitten she asked for. When she looked through Magnificent Mittens, she loved the wide cuffs that go outside of your jacket. I said happily I'd make her some using some leftover yarn she had.

This is Harrisville Cashmere Blend, and is a marvelous yarn to work with. I'm so happy with the smooth stitches. This mitten isn't even finished, much less blocked, and my stitches look fairly even. I had some other colorwork experiences recently that did not go so smoothly, alas.

I was sidetracked by a busy summer and craziness, and so I have not gone back to the second mitten. As I recall, the hand of the first one did not take too long, but the cuff -- and especially the fringe -- were rather painful. I'll finish it up, though, hopefully in time for Christmas!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Quilt

I started this one a long time ago, after I saw some of these on blogs. After the Flying Geese Quilt, I had a ton of extra 5" squares, and I loved the idea of color floating in white space.

I did modifly the pattern after my experience with the Flying Geese quilt. I think most of these quilts were made in strips, but I knew my strips wouldn't be even because I still have not perfected the 1/4" seam allowance. Instead, I chose to make this pattern into a block that was 4" x 6". Each block has a 4 x 4" white square on the bottom and on the top a 2 x 2" color square and a 2 x 2" white square. This allowed me to check my measurements for accuracy and square up the blocks before I joined them. It might not have been necessary, but I enjoyed doing it this way.

I still haven't figured out how to quilt straight lines -- but I kind of like the wobbles. I'm enjoying them right now, and I'll branch out later. The back is a lovely Kaffe Fassett print surrounded by the front border print. I bought both of them on, and did not intend for them to go together. Then, when I put them together they worked well, and the border gave the front of the quilt just the right amount of unity.

See how nicely all of the squares line up in this overhead shot? That's the reason I used the blocks. I'm happy now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A summer of new things....

I traveled this summer. It seems like I've been away from home almost the entire time. Things are finally settling down, and I had a chance to take some pictures this morning.

In my travels I made some discoveries. None of them really surprised the people who know me well.

At the Corning Museum of Glass I discovered I enjoy glass-blowing. They have workshops where you get to blow your own glass. (To be fair and provide full disclosure, you get to choose the colors and blow into the glass rod, but the museum workers do the majority of the work). We had to get our ornaments shipped to us, and I was so happy when I opened mine up.

I'm lucky enough to live in an area where I can take glass-blowing classes. Hopefully there will be one in my not-so-distant future.

On San Juan Island outside of Seattle I found a basketweaving kit. A friend called and as we were talking, she asked me what I was doing. "Basketweaving," I responded. I think it's pretty funny that she didn't question it at all.

This was a great kit, and it was affordable, also. They supply to national parks, museums and historical reenactment sites. I'll be keeping my eyes open for some more.

There was some quilting going on. This has been sitting around for a while, and I finally got my act together to finish it. Once I got motivated, it was quick work.

And, of course, some knitting. I haven't been knitting as much as I had been, what with all of the distractions. I do have a lot more to show, though!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I have not forgotten...

This is Wordle, which I borrowed from Lolly. It's called Me, and I did it here.

I have not forgotten about the blog. I'm still around, and I've been keeping myself busy. I haven't taken any pictures recently, and am about to disappear again, but I'll keep you posted!

Happy summer!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer is Here

About a month ago I looked outside and realized the weather was changing and summer was approaching. I have been trying to wear something handmade every day, and with the new season I was running out of opportunities. I bought some more yarn, and started a few more projects.

This is the Frock Camisole, out of Elann Adara in Fern. I love the pattern, especially the way the shaping around the neck creates a lovely curve. Unfortunately, I had been paying too much attention to my sewing patterns, and added a few inches around the hips, since I am a size or two larger there. I also did not wash my gauge swatch before I made this decision. So, not surprisingly, the completed Frock Camisole is far too wide. This will be easily remedied, as I have run into this problem before. Normally, I do not advocate machine stitching knit fabric, but in order to alter a garment without ripping the whole thing out seems like a reason to change it.

Here's what I plan to do, just as soon as I am near a full-length mirror and a sewing machine in the same place:

1) Sew sideseams into the Frock Camisole using mattress stitch. (It is knit in the round.)
2) Try it on and make sure it fits appropriately. Perhaps even wash it to make sure it doesn't grow anymore.
3) Zigzag stitch outside of the mattress stitching. Densely.
4) Stitch in a straight line between stitches on the outer edge of the zigzag.
5) Cut just to the outside of the straight stitching
6) Zigzag the edges one more time
7) Repeat steps 3-6 for the other 3 sideseams

I'm actually wearing Isabella today, and just took a peek at the side seams I chopped off. The stitching is holding fast, and I think it will last a considerable amount of time. I think the tradeoff -- finishing not quite up to snuff but a wearable garment -- is worthwhile. I know some people may disagree, but I don't want to knit the same pattern twice....

Monday, June 2, 2008

More finishing....

So, in order for the needles to have been empty yesterday, I needed to have a few more finished pieces, right??

This is the Flower Basket Shawl blocking.

I loved knitting this, although it took me ages. I wasn't able to work on it consistently, which is why it took me so long. You can only kind of see the variegation in this picture, but the yarn's semi-solidness made it beautiful to knit with. If only I had more things to wear peach with!
Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark
Needles: Size 4 bamboo circulars
Repeats: 18 of the second chart, plus the first and last charts
Mods: None. This says something about the pattern quality. It's beautiful.
Yarn: Zephyr, dyed by me this January. Actual weight unknown, slightly over 2 mini-cones

I also finished up my portable project:

These are the Candy Socks. They are knit on 66 stitches, and the only thing that makes them remarkable in the least are the heels. Can you identify which heel is the Dutch heel and which one is the regular heel-flap heel? That's right -- it turns out that when I was knitting the second sock (on the right) I forgot how one does the short rows to get a nice trapezoid on the bottom of the heel. So that sock turned out with a Dutch heel. Both socks fit, so I'm not too concerned about their fraternal nature.


Socks, on 66 stitches. Rib is 2x1.

Yarn: Knit Picks fingering, dyed by me in January


This is a simple stockinette swatch for my next project. Actually the first half of the project is off the needles, and the second half is not yet cast on. The yarn is cotton and so it shows every glitch. Usually on my reverse-stockinette sides I row out, and you can see the gaps. This time I didn't, at least not that much. I love this yarn! It makes a fabric that is truly smooth and sleek. It's Intermezzo DK.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Finishing Up Loose Ends

This morning I woke up and realized I had NOTHING on my needles. Now, that never happens. Ever. I usually have 3 projects going on: one lace, one pair of socks that stays in my bag, and one garment. Sometimes it goes up to five. I've been tearing through things, though, and decided to finish the pair of socks that has been languishing since March.

They, however, are not making it to this post. A lot has happened since then!
I have been admiring Juliet from afar for a while now. Towards the end of last summer, I bought some Knit Picks Shine Sport and I thought it would be great to combine the two. The yarn knits up at a much smaller gauge than Juliet, but I thought since it is cotton it would work well. I did some adaptations and came up with this:

The raglan increases at the shoulders. I love Cat Bordhi's method of doing left- and right-increases from New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I use them all the time now, because they turn out so neatly.

I saw one project on Ravelry that had a button on either side of the closure and a tab across it like a military jacket. I decided to adapt that look, and made large i-cord tabs with delicate buttons.

I'm very happy with how it all came out. It was hard to tell whether the lace was right when I was knitting it up. I did stop a little bit earlier than I thought, because I knew the cotton (and lace) would grow and lengthen. Now it hits me perfectly at the hip. I would give you more information, but I don't remember any of it. I think I used size 3 needles, but I'm not really sure.

I've begun spinning some more, but more importantly, I made my first project with my handspun! I ended up with a lot of yarn left over, so there may even be a second project in the future with it!

This is Cat Bordhi's Moebius Cowl. I found it on Ravelry, and got to fiddle with the Moebius cast on. It's unbelievable how you knit both sides at once.

I love the way the colors change so gradually. It's much more subdued than I anticipated when I spun the yarn. It's just too bad that the weather is getting warm enough that I barely need to bring a jacket with me, much less a wool cowl!

And lastly, I bring you something not crafting-related:

This is another project I have been working on, with five other people. I wrote about a third of the top book in the past two months. It's what has been sucking up my time, especially when a colleague and I had to edit and format the entire two-part document into 450 pages of useful text. Now it's done and in the final form, and I'm proud!