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.