Monday, February 8, 2016


Meet Alizarin. 

Aren't those colors wonderful? There's orange and fuchsia, purple, and of course the dominant rose. In the main body of this wrap they all mix together and average out to a lovely color, but it's fun to see each individual here in the cable and ruffles. 

Speaking of the wrap, here it is in all it's glory. I finally got around to weaving in ends and blocking. I wet blocked it by soaking it in the sink for about 20 minutes with a squirt of Dawn and then stretched it out on the blocking boards to about 62" x 21" using my wires. I didn't go very aggressive with stretching it, just enough to get the cable to behave and to straighten out the top pseudo point (an artifact of the construction) to a more or less straight line. It took a couple of days to dry, much to the cats' chagrin. They had to survive without access to the office for the duration. How awful I am!

In the end, it seems like that point at the top is returning somewhat as it relaxes to a native state of being. I think it's ok because look at the drape that creates. I haven't quite figured out how I want to wear it yet (I think a shawl pin would come in handy here) but it looks like it will make a great partner for a nice gray shirt and jeans, no? 

I remember the day I bought this yarn at Fengari in Half Moon Bay. I knew I wanted to make a Kir Royale and looked at just about every DK weight skein of yarn in the shop. I decided on this color because it wasn't a typical color for me but looked so pretty sitting on the shelf.

With this, I've finished up all the loose ends (pun intended) on every knitted project I bound off in 2015!

Pattern: Kir Royale by Melanie Berg (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Alizarin
Needle: Sizes 4 and 6

Sunday, January 31, 2016

commence operation moonraker

Having finished quite a few projects recently, both quilts and knits, I am treating myself to something new. This one will be a Moonraker, a fun and colorful asymmetrical wrap. I'm using a couple cakes of green that have been hanging around in my stash and taking the chance to use up some leftovers.

The pattern is pretty simple since it's mainly in garter stitch, but there are these neat little bobbles of contrasting color that are certainly anything but typical stitches. I'm a few rows in and I can tell this one will be a fun knit. I think if I keep at it little by little over the next few weeks I might have myself a fantastic St. Patrick's Day accessory. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


so. stinkin. cute. 

Our friends are having a baby -- and she's due in February! I thought it would be nice to make her a little sweater to keep her warm during these chilly El Nino months. It's not exactly snowpocalyse like it is on the East coast, but us West coasters are quite ok with some cold rain thank you very much! Either way, baby needs to keep warm and toasty. 

I whipped this darling little thing up in a few days. Worsted weight yarn + easy pattern = quick knit. Don't be fooled, the ease of knitting and the fact that the pattern is free does not mean that its a crappy pattern. In fact I quite liked it, and I can see lots of room for modifications and additions on this simple blank canvas. The only change I made was to use a contrasting yarn for the button band and collar. After browsing through the many finished projects on Ravelry I decided not to do contrasting arm and waist bands. There aren't many wth just a contrasting collar, but I liked those the best. 

I found a matched set of tortoise-shell-like buttons in my random bag o' buttons from Britex. They are sewn on with pearl cotton thread so they are nice and sturdy. Keen eyes and a good memory will reveal that these are the same colors in my Split Rotation. Indeed, I used up the remaining navy and have a small amount of the persimmon left. I still love this color combo and it's sweet for a little girl.  

Pattern: Baby Sophisticate (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Solids in 'Dark Country Blue' and 'Persimmon'
Needle: Size 8 circular (rosewood)

Friday, January 29, 2016

fun fun fun

I made a birthday pouch! One of the ladies I know from the barn celebrated a birthday recently. A few of us went out to dinner and I didn't want to show up empty handed. I know her well but not incredibly well outside of a horsey context, so I went with my traditional approach of giving something that I would want. This little pouch certainly fits the bill. And after working on mostly quilts and knitting for a while a small, quick sewing project was SUPER fun to make. 

Kepler really wanted to help. He jumped up on the desk and assisted (i.e. got in the way, but was cute nonetheless) while I cut out my pieces. 

I had a lot of fun picking out fabric. It had been some time since I browsed through my stash, and I unearthed this floral print that I just love. I think this kind of project is perfect for a large scale print like this, and the neutral toile and linen seemed like a good pair to combine with such a bright neighbor. 

It did all start out with this zipper, though. I have a few assorted zippers hanging around from the last time I went down to the San Jose Flea Market (serious deals!). The bright coral caught my eye as a color I think my friend would like so I started there and picked the fabrics to work with it. 

I used a Gathered Clutch Tutorial I found some time ago (thank goodness for Pinterest or I never would have remembered it!) with a couple of changes. Instead of using the interfacing, which I did not have, I used steam-a-seam lite, which I did have, and because you can't just attach it to one piece of fabric I adhered a piece of muslin to the back of each panel. The stiffness of the muslin actually helped give the whole thing a little more oomph than I think even the interfacing would have. 

The gathering and pressing wasn't as finicky as I feared, and the front panel turned out looking pretty neat. I chose a bright aqua thread to do my topstitching with, both across the band on the front and by the zipper. With the assembly of the pieces onto the zipper, as below, I think next time I need to take special care to be sure the zipper is set in enough from the panel edges. It was not obvious to me that you don't want to sew through the zipper piece in the final step. Counterintuitive, in fact. It still doesn't make that much sense to me. 

In the end, I fudged it, and it turned out looking just fine with no hole showing like I thought might happen. I'm not sure how! But next time I'll just make sure to leave a generous 1/4" instead of the scant 1/8" I had on one side... 

In general I'm not a great fan of working with zippers but I've gotten better at it. Just look at that nice neat zipper! And it even opens! The toile fabric inside is another one of my favorites and I'm tickled that I managed to get that lounging couple situated where you can see them peeking out when the pouch is open. 

The tutorial gives options for adding dividers, pockets, and even credit card holders to make this truly a functional clutch. I wanted to leave it as an all purpose pouch instead so I didn't add any of the options. I know I use them a lot, and I think it was safer to give a pouch instead of a 'purse' type of article since I'm not sure she would use a purse with no strap. 

I am so so happy with how this turned out, front, back, and inside, and I was amazed it only took me a couple of hours to make it. I bet it will be even faster the second time. Because there will be a second! And likely a third, fourth, fifth.... alas I have no more coral zippers so I can't make an exact copy, but I think I may make a couple more with this fabric combination for me and Mom because I love it so much. Then on to new ones for everyone else I know! I'm going to need more zippers.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wingardium Leviosa

Last weekend during playoff football, while all my picks were winning I might add, I finished my first pair of socks! Check it out, they actually look and fit like real socks. The combination of the pattern name and the yarn name made me think of the scene in Harry Potter where everyone is trying to make feathers fly. I give you Wingardium Leviosa. 

I don't know if it was the excitement of the football games or that I had in mind that the first sock was a little big on the leg, but sock number two ended up being a somewhat tighter gauge. It's pretty clear if you hold them up next to each other. Each fits -- after wearing them all day when they were done I found that I like the foot of the first sock and the leg of the second sock best.

My toes ended up being different on each sock. The first sock I didn't decrease on the 'big toe' side until the last four rows of decreases and on the second I started a few rows earlier just to see how it would work. I like the second version the best. Kitchener stitch is a little finicky and I had to look up how to do it both times but it is magical. The perfect join every time! The only noticeable 'seams' are the little diagonals from the decreases up the side. 

Despite the noticeable differences between the two socks, I'm going to leave this pair as-is to commemorate my first sock attempt. I really enjoyed this learning experience, and I'm pretty proud of myself for making a passable pair. I'm looking forward to finding some more patterns with different heel constructions, since it seems like that is an area where there are a lot of different options to play with. Until then I'll just sit back and watch this week's Championship games!

Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in 'Calligraphy'
Needle: Size 1 DPNs

Saturday, January 23, 2016

not-so-violent waffles

The moniker for this post comes from an inaccurate, but hilariously consistent, read of the pattern name: Violet Waffles. Turns out if you glance at the pattern title quickly, it - for some reason - reads as Violent Waffles. No waffles, violent or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this hat.

I started this just before we left for Chicago so I would have some easy knitting to do on the plane. It was supposed to be modified to be a double layer reversible hat (essentially two hats joined together at the brim). In the end, when Dave tried it on, he decided he would rather leave it just the one layer but with a longer brim than I made so he could flip it up and still completely cover his ears. Because of Plan A: double layer hat, I had used a provisional cast on so fulfilling that request was no problem. I forgot that the stitches would be offset by a half stitch when the provisional cast on was unzipped. Upon realizing that I thought that maybe I'd have a problem with the ribbing join turning out wonky, but I tried it out for a few rows and it doesn't look weird at all. In fact, if I didn't know, I wouldn't notice.

This is a great pattern to keep in mind for a quick gift. I finished the as-written hat in just a few days (though the extra brim had to wait a while because I only took one color with me on vacation). The pattern was knit in Madelinetosh DK with no modifications other than a few extra rows of brim and I didn't use the smaller needle for the ribbing. Court & Spark is the main color and the trim is El Greco, hand picked by Dave at Knit, Purl on our Portland trip. (Ravelry project page)

All in all, super happy with the pattern, the project, and the finish. I think maybe I should try some more hats! Alas it isn't that cold here, but maybe everyone in Chicago gets a hat for Christmas next year ;).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Retro Granny on its way

It's been nice to start the year off with a relatively clean slate. I have just a couple of knitting projects, a few small sewing projects (that have admittedly been hibernating a long time), and this granny square quilt. I've spent the last days brainstorming new things to work on, but I haven't really landed on anything that's truly grabbed me yet. Looking through my notebook of ideas reminded me that I had this (and those other small projects I mentioned) hanging out ready to be finished, so I'll likely spend some time finishing things before embarking on the new and shiny. 

My dear Retro Granny, as I've decided to name her, has been super fun to put together so far. I discovered I was smart and finished all the blocks up before tucking it away. All I had to do to get started again was take out my cutting board and trim squares. Mom bought me a 12.5" square ruler which has made the dreaded task of squaring up blocks SO MUCH EASIER. I've been doing fine without by using my 6 x 24" ruler and some basic geometry, but it's so much faster with this guy. I will never scoff at how expensive quilting tools are ever again. 

See how amazing that square looks? That's right, a perfect nine inches square. Perfect. It didn't take me long before I had the whole stack of 20 blocks all trimmed up and ready for the next step. 

I thought about skipping the sashing and instead sewing these together side by side. I'm 99% sure this is going to be a baby quilt for Dave's supervisor('s baby), but even given that I think it would have turned out smaller than I would have liked. Plus, after perusing Google images I found that I simply liked the versions with the space around the blocks better. So sashing was cut and sewn on, and before I knew it I had myself a finished top!

Right now I'm apparently a pro at finishing up quilts so hopefully basting, quilting, and binding won't be far behind. It's funny, you'd think after all the work I just did over the holidays I'd be ready for a break, but all I wanted to do when we got home was sit down and sew. Well, that and clean the kitchen, but we won't talk about that.