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.

Friday, September 9, 2016

skipping stones

In a frenzy of finishing Labor Day weekend, these mitts made it to the finish line. I wanted to clear some end weaving off my plate before I moved on to my next pair of gift socks, and I decided to include these in the mix. Recall that the knitting itself took only a week or so and then I put them aside because I had to figure out how to attach the straps and find buttons. 

For future reference, here's what I did and I think it ended up working out really well. I used a length of yarn and, holding the strap in place where I wanted to tack it down, started a few stitches to the right as if I were weaving in ends. When I got to the strap I included the edge in my weaving, and then kept on going a few stitches after. This way there isn't a noticeable set of whip stitches or wonkiness showing on the front and I think it should be pretty secure. As to where to position the strap, I just picked a random spot I thought would work and tried to match it as best I could on the second one.

I totally lucked out on these buttons. They were in my miscellaneous grab bag buttons from Britex Fabrics - the purchase that keeps on giving - and they are awesome. I took another length of yarn and stitched these down ending with a simple square knot on the back, the snipped ends of which you can see above.

It's getting a little bit chillier here, at least at night in that still so mild Bay Area way, so I'll be sporting these lovelies around town with my Kelpie scarf soon.

Pattern: Rye (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in 'Big Sur' and 'El Greco' (leftovers from last year's Kelpie)
Needles: US 2 1/2 and US 4

Thursday, September 8, 2016

a little bit of glitz

The end of this project snuck up on me. It's been great TV knitting since the pattern is so easy to remember. It's a simple cowl so there's not much to say about the making, though if I could change one thing it would be to make that bind off tighter so the ribbing on the left in the photo below doesn't flare out so much. I'm sure it won't be noticeable when worn. 

This was yarn I bought the day I flew back home from vacation in Kentucky so I'd have something to work on during the flight. It was a bargain bin find at the back of the store and I have to say, it's great yarn. The purple is a regal shade and the sparkly nylon strung through it varies from gold to copper and back. It's tres glitzy. 

The texture from the Andalusian stitch is enough to keep it interesting without competing with the rather busy yarn. It's fluffy and soft, and since it's acrylic I bet I can wear it without getting itchy! There may be a small headband in the future from the leftovers... 

Pattern: Andalusian Garnet Cowl (free on Ravelry, here's my page)
Yarn: Premier Yarns Isaac Mizrahi Craft University in 'Fordham'
Needles: US 10 (I didn't bother changing for the ribbing -- 10 was the only size I had at the time)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

somewhat dutch

The colorway for this Regia is 'orchard' which I suppose I could see with the colors of apples, oranges, sky, and clouds (perhaps?). When I look at these finished socks though, I just think of Amsterdam when we were there during Queen's Day 2011. Now King's Day with the new monarch, the holiday is celebrated with a riot of bright orange everywhere.

That said, this yarn is very clever. All that complicated looking design work is a result of the way the yarn is dyed along its length. They are 'made' to be for socks, so I'm sure it looks best worked up as a small tube though I'd be curious to see how it turns out with other patterns. Each knitter will have a slightly different gauge and socks are a range of circumferences depending on the wearer, but within error the patterns still shine through with only a little bit of muddiness.

By sheer accident these socks ended up looking very similar in pattern from top to bottom. You may notice the mismatch at the toes, showing that I had a yard or so difference in the 'start' position between the two, but not much. The other difference is the heels. I wasn't going to try to match them so just knit from wherever I broke my yarn. This was an afterthought heel, meaning while knitting merrily along a growing tube of fabric, you get to the part where the heel goes and use waste yarn on half of the stitches so you can come back later, rip those out, and put the heel in. 

The afterthought heel was super easy compared to remembering how to make a more traditional heel flap and picking up stitches to turn the heel etc. I'm sure that gets easier with practice since I've only done it once, but after one go-round of this version I could make a sock this way from memory. 

I'm pleased with this, my second pair of knitted socks and I've got a few more pairs to join this one for holiday gifting. I'll be trying some different patterns for those next few pairs, though I'm sure I'll return to this one as I continue exploring this new genre of knitting. 

Pattern: Afterthought Heel Socks (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Schachenmayr Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in 'Orchard'
Needles: US size 1 DPNs (2.25 mm)