Sunday, November 8, 2015

an ode to my new rotary cutter

Another treat from my mom's visit in September -- this little guy has been hanging around in my desk unopened while I finished up a bunch of knitting. Tonight I cut a few things for my three quilts I'm aiming to finish soon, and I LOVE IT. It's an Ergo Control 45 mm from Fiskars. 

My original Fiskars rotary cutter has seen lots of action and just doesn't keep the blade out anymore. It pops back in at even the slightest pressure. This version has a new action to lock the blade out that seems like it's quite an improvement. The blade is super sharp and cuts through multiple layers like butter. It's even way better than having a replacement blade in the old one. Don't know why, but there it is. 

Tonight I cut filler triangles for Samara's quilt and all the pieces for my grandfather's quilt and my hand hasn't even thought about hurting. Thanks mom!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

bumpity bump

I've been working my way through the center section of a Kir Royale for the last couple of weeks and loving it. It was my companion during playoff baseball until I realized I was knitting VERY TIGHTLY because the poor Cubs were playing so poorly.   

Check out the texture on this! While it looks complicated, it's really just a clever use of slipped stitches and garter stitch. I'm enjoying not having to purl yet, though once I get to the cables it's all over. Still, that will be a while because this has been somewhat slow going as the rows continue to increase in size. As an aside, this is the first time I've done a garter tab cast on and while it seemed overly complex and silly at first compared to just casting on a number of stitches, I have to say the resulting straightness across the edge is worth the few extra steps.

This yarn is the lovely Madeline Tosh Merino DK I bought this summer at Fengari. The color is alizarin, such a nice mix of warm tones! I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks as progress continues.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fomhar, finished

This stole got finished on the last day of October along with Samhainn. October is the end of Autumn and harvest (fomhar) in the Gaelic calendar so while unplanned, it was appropriate that I finished my Fomhar as well. I started this piece last November and worked on it occasionally over the course of the year aiming to have it finished by this fall. I completed the stitching in mid-September and finally found some time and space to sit down and block.

I'll be honest, I have no idea what the best way to block a lace shawl like this is. As usual, I looked up the finished measurements in the pattern and, once I determined that I used a similar amount of yarn, started from those numbers. While pinning I added some extra stretch where I had the give for it, which made my piece slightly wider. The thing that stumped me was how to deal with all the detail along the scalloped edges. I tried several ways of pinning out the chain loops and shells but in the end I did what I will dub 'the lazy man's block' and just spread the points out evenly along the wires. I'm sure there is a more correct approach of pinning out each of the motifs, but I didn't find a shape I liked.

I should have measured it before I blocked because for sure it grew. And as one might expect, the lace panels in the middle look totally different and super fancy with all the fans and clusters spread out. 

My favorite thing about this piece is the color. The coppers, golds, and greens swirl around and mix quite pleasantly. To be somewhat poetic, it reminds me of a forest floor in fall. I'm happy to have a bit of this yarn left for another project. 

I scratched several crafty itches with this project: do some crochet for a change, use yarn from the stash, and make a project out of one of my books/magazines (this was from an Interweave Crochet magazine). I really enjoyed the change of pace from knitting and, while I'm not very sure how one wears a stole with panache, I'm sure I'll figure something out. I just hope I can find something to show off the wonderful colors!

Pattern: Inspiration Stole by Lisa Naskrent (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Prairie in 'Filigree'
Hook: G (4 mm)
Dimensions: 64" x 20"

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Samhainn!

To celebrate in style I revisited my Samhainn shawl this afternoon. I set up the card table and my blocking boards for a quick steam block. Once I got the wires in and started pinning it was amazing to see how much wider the cable border got. After drying I have a nice heavy piece measuring about 56" wide by 22" deep. 

Dave and I took it outside for some glamour shots in the festive looking plum tree. 

And just for fun here are some pumpkins we carved with friends camping last weekend! Mine is the smiley bat all the way to the left, and Dave carved the scary guy right next to it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

paper pieced posies

Well. Here's a project I haven't shared in quite some time. I intend to finish at least 3 quilts before Christmas. Typing it here it makes it kind of real and feels like I've committed a little more concretely to the idea. Take that, self. This is one of the three, for my youngest niece. I had a few blocks to finish the last time this appeared, and it turned out having a little EPP pouch of supplies and basted hexagons handy by the couch really helped with that. Any evening we were relaxing in front of the TV also involved stitching.

I started out thinking I'd add another round to these diamonds before stitching them together in rows to form a center panel, but after playing around with them for a while I decided that I could make a couple of flowers with them by combining them into groups of six. Mom, who was visiting at the time, agreed so I took that as a stamp of approval and started sewing. Once the flowers are done I'll take a big background pieced from linen and one of my favorite pink fabrics and artfully sew them down to finish the top. Avanti!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

seeing the forest for the trees

This blanket of mine is just flying off the needles! I've zipped my way through a few balls of yarn and quite a few inches. It has been following me around for whenever the itch to stitch strikes. I love the fact that I've had that bag since I was a kid and the horse crazy phase is still around. 

The first few rows of just knitting or purling all the way across took a bit of determination to get through, but once I hit the flowers and trees the pattern repeats kept it interesting and rows were ticked off in no time. Funny how that works isn't it? I have one section of flowers and one of trees finished, which is about 1/3 of the blanket body. There's a border though, so I'd say I'm about 25% of the way through overall. Not bad!

The tree branches are just a series of small 2x1 or 2x2 cables, made much easier from having worked a bunch of cabling on the project I just finished. The knit stitches that make up the trees pop off of a background of purls creating a 3D pattern.  

These flowers are quite interesting in construction with clustered stitches for the heads and overlaying a single knit stitch for the leaves. I had never seen anything like this before, it's neat! Took me a few tries to figure out what the instructions meant, but once I did it once it made perfect sense and remembering how hasn't been a problem. 

I've done a few crocheted blankets, I haven't ever knit one before. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Samhainn, finished

Wow, this was such a fun project! As soon as I got my second skein of whiskey barrel wound up I finished this in a flash. The center garter stitch section only took me a couple evenings (and an hour in the lovely garden by Memorial Church on campus on lunch break) to whip up. Mom helped me pick out the color combination and I really like the way it turned out. Despite the fact that California doesn't have much of an autumn in my neck of the woods I'm starting to feel it looking at this! I've got some acorn earrings that will pair so nicely with this, too. 

The yarn, madeline tosh dk, is my new favorite. I have been using so much of her single ply fingering weight yarn because that's what I'd been able to find in my local yarn shops, but it looks like Nine Rubies will be carrying this multi-ply dk weight yarn now. It's dense and squishy and absolutely lovely to work with. In true madtosh form all of the colors are stunning. It also works up very quickly compared to lighter weight yarns. It took me no time at all to get all those inches of cables off the needles. 

Speaking of cables, I learned a lot on this one. Cable patterns have seemed like something I would never be great at being able to do without referring to the pattern every step, but a few inches into this one and something finally clicked and I can cross stitches pretty intuitively now. The other thing that was so handy, and which I think contributed to the aforementioned click, was learning how to cable without a cable needle. Being able to just rearrange the stitches and keep on knitting really sped things up and made it so much simpler. Of course it's best when there aren't many stitches involved, these are all 2x2 crosses. The blanket I'm working on has small cables, too, and since finishing this I've found myself able to work through those charts much better.

This will need some light blocking to even out some puckers in the middle, but even without it drapes nicely and is plenty 'neat' enough to wear right away. I *really* like the cable border -- the texture, the color, the pattern, everything. Also the way the border joins with the center section looks quite professional and a testament to the detail Ysolda puts into her patterns. It looks like a running chain all along the edge, but was accomplished with some simple slipped selvedges that flipped over like magic after picking up the center stitches. I'll update the dimensions once the blocking is done, but for now the specifics:

Pattern: Hediye by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Madeline Tosh DK in 'Terra' and 'Whiskey Barrel'
Needle: Size 7
Dimensions: 56" x 22"