Friday, January 4, 2019

mosaic crochet

I had so much fun with my last project using a Caron cake that I'm starting another one. While it is tempting to take all three skeins I bought and make that fabulous shawl three times, I decided to try something else. I'm not certain how I found this pattern on Ravelry, but mosaic crochet is a technique I've never done before and it looks like self striping yarn with long color changes will do the trick nicely. The resulting fabric is certainly very striking with this color combination and it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

I'm finding that it takes a little bit of attention to get the first side done (it is worked in the round), but once I get the idea of that row's pattern I don't have to read the instructions anymore. It's been really good early morning and late evening handwork for the past couple of days. It's starting to grow a little more slowly as the rounds get longer... I'm excited to see the finished square and to decide how to finish it. Right now I'm thinking pillow cover if it is smaller or maybe adding more yarn in this pinky peachy color family if it is almost big enough to be a throw once the colorful cake is done. We'll see!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

poulet quilt top

Well I guess I really was excited to work on that new quilt! I found myself on a quilt-venture from mid morning to mid afternoon today. And it was fun.

Dave is going to visit some friends who are expecting, and he wanted me to make them a baby quilt from us. What a compliment, thanks hubby! After some perusing around on the great world wide web  for "chicken quilt" (chickens are part of an ongoing joke with these friends) I found a quilt I really liked on a blog called Quilty Love (link). The whole thing is chickens! The original and easy to follow tutorial she used for the block was at another blog (here), but I link the first quilt as well because it was the bright colors and fresh setting that really caught my eye and inspired me to make it.

We pulled fabrics together a couple of days ago and in the process of moving my supplies from closet to cabinet we also found some leftover blocks from an old project that seemed like the perfect fit. We're going for primary-ish colors. Dave really liked that bird print at the top right for the backing, so I pulled in one print with similar colors for the front and that also made that orange and turquoise nine patch fit in better, so it got added in too.

The cutting didn't take very long, which was good because it's my least favorite part, nor did it really take up that much fabric. With the largest piece for each block being 5.5" x 6.5", this is a great project for leftover odds and ends. I have no idea what the exact color name for the background I chose is, but I'm sure it's a Kona solid and it is off white. I happened to have a bunch of it on hand; thanks, past self! 

The blocks came together surprisingly quickly, and before I knew it I had a flock of chickens on my hands. I really liked the simple construction - just a few seams and a nice big piece to show off fun prints. Also, the design is just so cute. I feel like each chicken has its own attitude. Being able to freehand cut the combs is part of it, but also the way they are standing they're just proud little chickens. So fun. 

I hemmed and hawed over the quilt layout for a while. I wasn't certain how big I wanted it to be. In the end I figured eight chickens plus the four other blocks was enough if I used wider than usual sashing. This decision was helped along by just throwing the blocks on the floor and moving them around until I was happy. I thought to myself "hmm how big are those gaps? maybe i'll just make my sashing that wide." They were about 3" and the overall size with all the blocks spread out seemed big enough so I went with that. Then the next question was to square or not to square? The orphan blocks are 8" squares, but the chickens are 7x8". I thought about adding a strip of background on the bottom of each chicken to square them up but then decided it would be less annoying to trim the patch blocks down to 7x8". 

I deliberately chose to make the longest piece of sashing the horizontal ones and to piece the vertical ones in order to emphasize the slight rectangle-ness of the blocks. I also set the directional fabrics in the patch blocks to be stretched horizontally as well. I really love the way it turned out! The squat little chickens and their patchwork friends look very hip and modern despite the traditional setting. I liked the way the inspiration quilt looked being completely chickens, but I really think those orphan blocks found a great home in this quilt and give it that extra bit of quirk that I love.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Welcome 2019! The past year was one of many knits, a lot of yarn stash busting, and a little bit of quilt making. I've got my eyes set on more knitting (of course) and also hoping to get a lot more sewing in. We rearranged some things in our office and now I get to stare at all of this potential whenever I am in here. 

I can feel the creative juices getting going on fabric again, and I already have prints pulled for a new quilt project. I need to finish my medallion quilt (sandwich, quilt, and bind) and I have a french braid quilt in progress that I'll pick up again as well, but I'm not going to be strict about finishing them if I'm excited about starting something new. Here's to a crafty year ahead!

Monday, December 31, 2018

it's a wrap

This project was my airplane knitting for the flights out to Kentucky. Knowing that I didn't want to work on the mittens in the tiny plane seats, I started a few stitches of this the night before we left. Here it is on the bed of our super hip crash pad in Louisville all finished up. I got a lot done on the plane trip, and then working on it in the evenings I bound off with a day to spare. 

The pattern, while a little confusing the way it is written, is really quite simple. It is designed for those nifty long color change yarns - this is a Caron Cake. The stitch pattern changes with each color change along the yarn and voila you have a sampler. And just TWO ends to weave in! The confusing bit is in the way she notes the increases and marker placement. It's just increase on every wrong side row with a yarn over after the edging and keep your markers two stitches in from each edge so you remember to work the edge stitches. The rest of the words are really not necessary. The piece grows really fast since it's on size 10 needles and it's really rewarding to finish such a lovely thing in just a few days! I love the sampler effect and if you pick the right yarn, it ends up looking really trendy.

It blocked out well yesterday with just a light steaming. The lace sections hold their shape better and the whole thing drapes nicely now. All in all this was a fun knit that was ideal for chatting and coffee drinking. The stitch patterns were easy to memorize and there was no row counting necessary, just go until you run out of color. The hardest section is the lace shown in dark gray here, and I think I did that during a movie I was half watching, so there you go. Not that hard. Given that the cake I had was almost 400 yards, it's pretty big - 60" across that long edge and 30" from that down to the point. Very pleased with this, my last finish of 2018. More to come next year!

Pattern: Another Cake Shawl, free on Ravelry (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Caron Cakes in 'Zucchini Loaf'
Needles: US 10
Size: 60" wide x 30" deep 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

mandarin votter

Vacations are for knitting! This is Dave's happy face when I finished the second thumb and his mittens were all but complete. Worth every stitch. 

I started these just a few days before we went to visit his folks for the holidays and ended up taking them with me to work on while there. Not airplane knitting, but definitely couch knitting. (Maybe someday I'll want to do serious color work on a plane, but I'm not there yet.) I finished them a couple days before we left for home.

This is another wonderful pattern from Arne and Carlos in their book Favorite Designs that Dave got me for my birthday. I've had an A&C end to the year for sure! They are called Akle Mittens and use a diamond motif found on traditional tapestries hung in Norwegian homes (or so the book tells me). The pattern says they are sized 'for women and girls', but since finished measurements were also listed, I ended up making the girls size for Dave. These would fit me too. Maybe they like their mittens very large? Or they have large hands? Regardless. These fit. 

I used the same leftovers from the hat I made for Dave in October plus some white I had as one more accent color and the blue I bought last month for the background. I really like that blue, especially with these colors. I did not end up using up any of these yarns so I added one more leftover to the stash, but I still think this was a marvelous stash buster project as I had all but one of the yarns already handy and ended up with these fabulous mittens. In the balance there is likely less overall yarn in the stash. 

There were, as I told Dave this morning with yarn needle in hand, approximately 35,000 ends to weave in. But I ripped off the proverbial BandAid and sat down to do it last night as soon as we finished unpacking. I managed to finish one mitten before declaring defeat and heading to bed. The second got finished before breakfast. Just look at how satisfyingly neat the insides look. The double thickness of wool will make these especially warm. 

The knitting went fairly quickly because, unlike most of the Christmas balls I've been working on, there was no float twisting required. Since the floats are relatively short the way it is designed, I could just set up with one yarn on each index finger and knit away. In that way I think this pattern is actually a really nice one to start learning stranded knitting. 

Mandarin Votter is Norwegian for Tangerine Mittens, to go along with the Tangerine hat. Of course, since these are some of Dave's favorite colors these mittens will go with several of his other hats and scarves as well. For blocking I did a quick press with a hot iron and a damp cloth around the mittens. These are comfortably snug right now so I didn't want to stretch them out anymore like I did the stranded mittens I made for myself. In this case I think they will loosen a little bit with use to be perfect. 

It is no exaggeration to say that these were one of my favorite knitting projects ever. I love the geometric design, making them was relatively easy (it's always hard for me to do thumbs), and they worked up fast. VERY satisfied.

Pattern: Akle Mittens from Arne and Carlos Favorite Designs book (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in 'Barley', 'Grove Mix', and 'Persimmon', Patons North America Classic Wool in 'Winter White', and Cascade 220 Heathers in 'Blue'
Needles: US 2.5 and US 4 dpns

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

jingle all the way

Well here is the answer to "what did she do with all of those Christmas balls???" Door hangings! (The deer head stayed at home with us but was also a cute place to take these pictures as well as where we hung ours this year).

I found the large bells at the beginning of the holiday season and snapped up a few with these in mind. Putting it all together was relatively simple; it just involved cutting some decorative twine, some square knots, and deciding the right relative length at which to hang everything. I thought there were hoops at the bottom of the bell too, but turns out I was wrong. Luckily stringing the twine through the bottom of the bell the way I have it doesn't affect the ringing at all.

First, the one we kept: Moose, Christmas Stocking, Squirrel

One for my brother's family: Decorating the Tree, New Snow, Hospitality

One for my parents: Halling Border, Mittens, Dovre

One for Dave's parents: Selbu, Christmas Bells, Poinsettia

I love the way these turned out, and I had so much fun making them. I am really glad I managed to make something for everyone this holiday. I love the handmade decorations and ornaments I have and enjoy remembering their makers every year when we deck our halls at home.

Friday, December 21, 2018

more barn gifts

And what to my wondering eyes should appear... more Christmas balls! And these are horse themed for barn friends. After getting gifts for my family squared away, I had a few days before leaving on our trip to Kentucky tomorrow to get some fun ornaments done for horse people. 

This one is for someone who really likes unicorns. I searched around online and pretty easily found a chart for a knitted unicorn head and made just a couple of modifications, moving a stitch here or there in order to make it work for the size space I had to work with. Not bad!

This second one is for a woman I recently got to know who has also just gotten herself a new horse! Lucky lady. He is black and sweet and lovely, so I thought this rocking horse would be appropriate in black and white. The pattern is another out of the 55 Christmas Balls to Knit book which says the rocking horse is a symbol of good luck and prosperity - something I certainly wish for the two of them!

This last one is another case where I found a chart online and adapted it for the ball pattern. This guy had columns taken out in the belly region to shorten his body and I changed his head a little bit too. I am actually really pleased with the black on red look. It's actually quite elegant looking and the contrast is really strong, something I wondered about. 

I'm super happy with how these turned out, and everyone really enjoyed receiving them. I think they are really great gifts, and now I know they can be hyper-personalized if needed! It was so easy. I suspect some more of these horse themed baubles may be coming along in the new year...