Saturday, July 15, 2017

instant gratification

I love green, blue, and aqua in almost anything. These are some of my favorite fabrics I have in my stash, and I am so pleased with how pretty they all look together! That starburst fabric is a particular favorite of mine, so it was a perfect pick for the pocket of a little gift I made a couple of weeks ago. 

I followed the Crochet On The Go Bag pattern I found at Sew Mama Sew (here) and ended up with a cute birthday gift in an hour or so. Super easy and fun to play with fabric. The idea is a bag you can throw your yarn in and hang over your arm as you crochet (in lines, walking around (!), etc.). I also think it's a cute project bag even for someone who doesn't want to wander around with their work.

The part that makes it really fun is the pocket. It adds interest to the outside structurally and is also a place to mix and match different fabrics. Let's also not forget how much difference the perfect button can make. There is no orange in any of the fabrics, but just that little bit in the button pops and makes everything else look even better. I could also say that the round shape ties in nicely with the round starbursts and polka dots, but that might just be too much design speak for me to describe a situation where it really was 'I just picked the coolest button I had in my stash'. 

There are several pockets on the inside, and the way it is sewn onto the bag makes a deep pouch between the pocket and bag that is good for holding larger things (a printed pattern maybe?) as well. The pocket is slightly smaller than the pattern calls for, just by an inch or two. This is primarily because the fabrics I wanted to use were scraps that weren't large enough for the pattern as-is, but I think if I made this again I'd still like the pocket smaller like this.

I added top stitching around the handle because I like the way that finish looks, and it also helps make it feel sturdier. The bag is large enough to hold a couple of full skeins of yarn, and I included some of the more commonly used crochet hook sizes in the pocket. 

It was so nice to start and finish something in the same day --- similar to the smaller knitting/crocheting projects I don't think to do very often because blankets, shawls, and quilts are so much more tempting. Lesson learned at the sewing machine as well! Do the small things, they're super fun too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Retro Granny

It's so funny to go back and track down when I last picked up any given project. My last post on this quilt was from January 2016 and full of optimism that it would be done very soon. hehehe. It took me until early April 2017 to do so, and it's now July and I'm writing about it.

First off, Kepler would like me to explain to everyone that is is very hard to be a cat in the Schoen household. But he does appreciate all the opportunities to help out with craft projects.

Secondly, I can explain that the long gap was partly due to a new job taking up time, but mostly because I didn't have quilt batting. A normal person's solution to that problem would be to go out and buy some batting the right size for the quilt. My solution? Order a huge roll of batting online. Seriously. I have something like 40 yards of batting on a roll in my closet now. It's a beautiful thing. Of course, it required totally reorganizing the closet to get it to fit in there, but now I have the convenience of cutting off whatever size batting I need for all the quilts I'm going to make. (For like the next 10 years....) 

Back to the quilt at hand, the roll o' batting really did make it very easy. I had a gray flat sheet hanging out with my fabrics that I think works with the 'cool' colors in the Millie's Closet fabrics really well. 

I thought about hand quilting it, but ended up machine quilting using straight stitching along each side of the sashing strips and adding in diagonal lines across each row of blocks. The photo below shows one of the diagonal quilting lines where I chose to stitch three parallel lines. I did this every other diagonal, which made a really neat looking pattern that for some reason makes me think of argyle socks. Maybe it's more of a slant rhyme to plaid, but either way it's cool. White thread makes it just a textural effect rather than additional color. 

I used leftover strips from the Millie's Closet jelly roll to make binding. Jelly rolls make binding oh so easy. The colors progress from pink to yellow to green to blue around the edge of the quilt rather than being assembled randomly. It's probably not noticeable to anyone else, but I'll know it! I stitched the binding on by machine as well, tacking it down with a zigzag stitch in green thread. 

The final quilt is 43" x 54" which is a pretty good size.

Friday, June 30, 2017

christmas catch up

It's really too bad that I didn't get a picture of all the things I made for Dave's family last Christmas because they were pretty awesome. So awesome that Dave wanted to pack the up and ship them off before I took pictures! :) In addition to the couple pairs of socks I've already written about, I made my sister-in-law a hat, my brother-in-law a set of fingerless mitts, and my mother-in-law a scarf. The scarf at least I have a picture of (as it dried from blocking late on Xmas Eve....):

I'll start with the mitts. Dave requested them for his brother after I finished his Endor gloves that he loves so much. Knowing that I wasn't going to have time to finish the fiddly finger bits, I went looking for another pattern and found Lambing Mitts, some super cool open top mittens. I used the same heavy duty yarn, and they turned out looking much like Dave's pair, only no fingers. Success!

The hat and the scarf were both patterns from a slip stitch knitting book of patterns from my new local yarn shop in Los Altos. The hat went SUPER fast, and I made it with forest green yarn that I had in my stash from another project. Yeah for stash busting. The amount of yarn (about half a skein) was just enough to finish the Siska Hat and it took me like a day (and an extra half a day to tink back and add in a repeat I skipped). With the pattern and the color, it ended up looking like a pine tree forest all around the hat. The fit was great (on my head at least) and it was a hard one to give up. 

The scarf, as you'd think, took longer to make. It is interesting in that you don't knit width-wise and make it longer; you knit length-wise and make it wider. That means each row takes forever, but it isn't as mentally painful as the "normal" way of making a scarf, in my mind anyway. Dave picked out the colors, which I think are really great and a departure from what I would usually pick. The pattern was really fun to knit with all the slip stitching and color changes keeping it interesting. Sure enough (just to keep up with my m.o. of course!) I finished it on the plane to Louisiana and weaved in ends and blocked it the night before Christmas, letting it dry until morning.

Whew! Hopefully this will clear up my writer's block now that I've got this post out of the way. I haven't been doing too much this year, but I have been getting some crafting in here and there. More to come. 

Be a Lamb mitts (my Ravelry page)
Pattern: Lambing Mitts
Yarn: Newton's Yarn Kroy Pencil Roving 
Needle: US 6 dpns

Wayward Pines hat (my Ravelry page)
Pattern: Siska Hat
Yarn: Lion Brand Heartland in King's Canyon
Needle: US 5 and 7

Peachy Keen scarf (my Ravelry page)
Pattern: Volna
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Grove Mix, Barley, and Candied Yam Mix
Needle: US 8

Saturday, April 8, 2017

indie quilt

The last time I wrote about this project was Labor Day weekend - a month before the wedding for which it was due. In true "me" fashion, I took it right down to the wire, but it got done and turned out to be a really pretty quilt that I hope my cousin will enjoy.

I like to think of these wedding quilts as 'picnic quilts' because when Dave and I first met one of our favorite ways to spend time together was on picnics with a basket full of fruit and cheese. Nothing like sitting in the sunshine on a nice day with a book, a guitar, or a nap. (Oh How California!) It does feel a bit decadent when we manage to do it now - less often, but no less appreciated.

Because it will end up on grass and dirt and ground the back is a very sturdy flat sheet I had in my stash. The red sets off all the colors nicely and will certainly hold up to use. I brought the backing around to the front as the binding as well, so this sucker is ready to go.

It's been a while, but I'm 99% sure I took this just as the finished front and the sheet for the backing to my parents' house so I could finish it before the wedding. Rather than taking a bulky batted thing along we just popped out to her Joann's and got some batting and I decided to give my trusty old machine (my first sewing machine) a break and tie the quilt instead of doing a lot of quilting. I remember at some point Dave had a tied quilt and I liked the look of it - turned out nice here too. I used salmon colored pearl cotton with some complicated knot to make sure it doesn't come undone.

Dave, my trusty photographer whenever we go on vacation, snapped a bunch of great pictures literally minutes before I wrapped it up in ribbons to go the wedding. What a sport. I loved working with these fabrics and colors. The saturated berry and teal were my favorite colors, and any one of the creative florals are just amazing. These Anita's arrowhead blocks look great with a combination of solids and prints, and I like the way the whole thing sparkles. It ended up being a nice blend of modern and traditional, something that suits my cousin really well!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

belle fleur at long last!

It seems fitting that I start writing after a bit of a hiatus by sharing a project that also enjoyed a raaaaather long hibernation before I finished it this week. 

I started this blanket May 1, 2010 according to Ravelry .... and it took me until this past weekend to finally get Kepler to help me finish sewing it all together. 

I loved crocheting all of the individual flower motifs - they go really fast and are all super interesting. What took much longer was sewing it all together. I think I was just intimidated at not knowing what I was doing there. Mom did quite a bit of assembling on one of her trips, and helped get me jump started. Of course that didn't mean it didn't enjoy more hibernation while I knit all the other shiny things. At least I knew what I was supposed to do with it ;).

I must admit I was not convinced even while assembling that this would end up looking any good. I was imagining huge gaping holes, comparing to pictures on Ravelry where others had filled in with extra motifs or in fact HAD huge gaping holes, and just generally thought I'd end up with a big floppy swamp thing.

Well I didn't! It looks great and I'm glad I persevered. The one modification I did make was on the tassels. I left out the last round on the tassel cap, used fewer strands in the dangly bit, and sewed 5 of them directly onto the largest flower motif instead of making long cords to hang 5 off of each end. They are still begging to be cat toys, but at least it's not as bad as having way danglier things to play with.

Of course, given how awesome it looks, the cats are NOT allowed! Because look. It totally fits in with our new duvet cover. Good job picking a color, past self. That pea green pops. It's a super dimensional, super cool blanket that I'm proud to say I made. At last!

Monday, November 28, 2016


I think these are my best socks yet. Practice does indeed make perfect! In the continued spirit of our handmade holiday this year with his family, Dave asked me if I could make his dad a pair of wool socks. Sooooo, this pair is destined for my father-in-law's feet. Convenient since Dave's feet were a perfect stand-in model to make sure they would fit right.

As you'd expect, each sock solidifies the general construction principles in my head a little more. Eventually I'll be able to work less off of a pattern as I turn the heel, but for now I remain glued to the line by line instructions to tell me how to work that magic. The toe decreases I've got down. That's progress, at least. 

This yarn, Swan's Island Merino, is what I would imagine butter would feel like in yarn form. I don't know of a better way to describe it than that, but suffice to say it's fun to work with. The kicker is that this color, dyed with indigo, rubbed off on my hands and made it look like I contracted a weird knitting related illness. This phenomenon, upon Google searching, is called "crocking" and totally normal with a pigment like indigo. Apparently if I wash these guys in water until they stop bleeding then they won't rub off on Steve's feet. Hmmmm...... ;) 

Pattern: Petty Harbor (free on Ravelry; link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Swan's Island Natural Colors Merino in "Teal"
Needle: US 1 1/2 DPNs

Saturday, September 17, 2016

labor day weekend

I had an extremely productive Labor Day weekend! In addition to all the lovely knitted things, I managed to get a good chunk of work done on my Indie quilt and even photograph the finished top.

I took advantage of the legislative session finally being over on September 1 to finish work at a reasonable hour and sew in the evening sunshine. Our home is oriented so the late afternoon sun shines into the office and dapples the room with sunshine spots that the kitties love to chase. In addition to the furry company, I also like the way my sewing area is actually lit up so I can see! It's not nearly as nice to sew in the evenings as it is during these few sunwashed hours. I suppose sewing in the sun is my equivalent to kittens sleeping in it. It's pretty relaxing. 

The remainder of the blocks came together quickly and with perfect points on nearly all of them. I'm still amazed at how complicated they look but how easy they are to make. Then I spent a bunch of time trimming to size. In the past this hasn't been my favorite step because it was so cumbersome to flip and snip. Mom got me a big square ruler on her last visit - game changer!

It's all finished and ready for backing now -- just look how it sparkles. I'd make this pattern again; in fact I have lots of fabric leftover to make another with these colors.