Friday, August 31, 2012

A Bicycle Built for Two

And now for something completely different... yarn. I started this scarf back in January when most of the work I was doing involved two needles or a hook. Somewhere along the way I transitioned into sewing more than I was yarn-ing. I have been very good and have not let myself start any new knitting or crocheting projects until I finished all my WIPs! That didn't mean, however, that I couldn't start sewing instead ;o) I think a lot of that had to do with this scarf.

I really wanted to teach myself to double knit with a nice easy project, like a scarf. The problem is, double knitting is kind of like doing 1x1 rib. I hate 1x1 rib, I'm really slow at it. With the more complex pattern, I was distracted by the pattern and it didn't really feel slow. Once I got to those long plain straightaways though, roadblock.

At any rate, it is a double knit scarf with a neat bike design at one end I adapted from a pattern I found on Ravelry (Tom's doubleknit bicycle hat). I thought about doing two bikes, but instead decided to go for a "reappearing checkerboard" type of thing at the other end to match the first rows. I made that up as I went along and think it turned out rather nicely! It kind of makes me think that the bike had some paint on the tires at some point and got those little dashes scattered across the scarf; Dave thinks it will make him look super fast.

Finishing up the last rows was a triumph, and I was happy to get to search around on youtube for a kitchener stitch tutorial so I could seamlessly finish up the edge to match the cast on and sides. Last night I blocked it using my trusty steamer, and voila! Nice and soft. And done!

What is really special about this scarf is that half of it is yarn I bought on a day trip to Delft while we were living in Amsterdam (details on my Ravelry page). It's not quite true "Delft blue" but it is for our purposes here. The bike is also a memory from Amsterdam, and Dave will be sporting this while riding his bike to and from Stanford (when it gets cold enough!).

Hooray for perservering, because Dr. Dave loves it. Y'know, like Napoleon would.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Well this just clinches it...

I love it.

It wasn't until I put on the linen border and the final round of scrappy strips that the whole thing really came together, but now I absolutely love everything about this quilt top. It was one of those magical moments where my eye finally went "ooh! look it's all working together!" and my heart filled with pride (and a little bit of relief, if we're being totally honest with each other).

There were times I wasn't too sure, like when I stacked together the fabrics from my stash and thought the colors were nice together but maybe a little uninspired. Or when I put the patchwork on and went 'ack! might be too bold!' And let's not forget all the hemming and hawing that went into the fabric choices for the on-point squares and the worry that maybe there was too much orange - then again maybe not enough. On second thought, let's.

Let's just focus on how this serendipitous stack of fabrics pulled from the cabinet with stubbornness ("I will NOT buy new fabric for this project!") became something totally unexpected and wonderful.

I need to think up an appropriate name for it, but I have plenty of time. I have other projects to move on to that have deadlines, but between them I will be putting together a back and then ambitiously *hand quilting* it. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Perfection in posies

After returning from our vacation, most of August has been an insane whirlwind for me in terms of work commitments so the sewing time has been at a premium. Isn't that always the way?

I was so happy this past weekend to get a chance to sit down and MAKE. I turned my nose up at my Modern Medallion quilt in a bid for something fresh and new to start and finish in time for my Mom's birthday (which was Monday). My summer so far has been mostly devoted to projects from handstitched class, so I picked one of the projects I missed out on during the weeks I was on vacation - the Meadow Pillow. This was my absolute favorite project from this class, hands down. I have really enjoyed seeing everyone's renditions coming through the flickr group, and was very excited to start my own. (fair warning -- lots of pictures ahead!)

For as long as I can remember, my Mom's favorite color has been purple. I had collected a lot of purple fabrics years ago in preparation to make a quilt from the cover of a magazine Dave's mom got me. That hasn't happened, I've been a couple fabrics short. It's really hard to find just the right shade of purple! So instead I decided to cut into some of those lovely (stashed!) fabrics, add some complementary yellow, and make a fabulous pillow instead.

This project was really fun for me because it combined all different types of applique techniques. I learned a lot in the process, and no step in particular was really all that time consuming. Just the type of project I was craving. Even the binding didn't take all that long!

I normally hate this part. Pinning and binding ... ugh. 

Here is the pillow cover is all finished up! I just love that I had all these fabrics waiting around for me to see them in a new way. The yellow and gray print and the yellow binding were fabrics I had bought for another project, but changed my mind about. I'm so happy I had these hanging around, they really worked perfectly.

There are three different handstitching techniques used here: blind stitch, running stitch, and stem stich. 

The back of the pillow cover is an envelope closure, and I made it out of this lovely flannel print. I think this will make it a cozy alternative to snoozing on the front side. 

I was thinking of purchasing a pillow form and modifying the pattern to fit it, as at least one other person in the class did, but I found a big 32 oz bag of fiberfil in the closet and decided I had enough large cuts of fabric worthy of a pillow form to just make my own like Rachel suggested in the pattern. 

Here is the finished pillow in all it's glory. I love it. Love love love love love. It's the perfect gift to give my mom precisely because I enjoyed making it so much and am so perfectly pleased with the finished product. Happy birthday Mom!!

August Finishes

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

x & + revisited

I'm very excited to be part of the Love circle at do.Good Stitches, an online charity bee started by Rachel of Stitched in Color. I've been wanting to be more involved in the online sewing community, and I think this bee will be just the thing. Our circle of 10 makes quilts to benefit children living in poverty through Wrap Them in Love. It's a cause I believe in, and a great and very talented group of ladies I'm looking forward to working with.

For my first month in the circle, I have gotten to revisit a favorite block, the x and +! The prompt was pretty flexible -- 3 blocks made from whatever fabrics and whatever colors we have on hand. Great!

I had lots of fun playing around with the different combinations of color, values, and scale in the three different blocks but tried not to worry too much about more unusual pairings (like the modern pez and floral print in the top left block). These are also really simple to make -- lots of visual bang for your buck in terms of time, that's for sure. I've already tried combining mine in different ways, it will be fun to see all the blocks come together in one quilt top!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aviary Patchwork done!

I finished! It took a couple months and most of that it was sitting around waiting for me, but I finished up the binding this weekend. Basically a picture post to celebrate:

I used the pretty yellow lattice print as the binding, and I like how it blends into the front and contrasts nicely with the back. I followed Rachel's zig zag binding tutorial, and I must say I'm quite pleased! I was planning on handstitching the binding to the back, but this was much quicker, and I think seems much more rugged and - dare I say it - modern.

The finished quilt is about 60" x 60" and is plenty big enough for two people to sit on and have some cheese and crackers at the park. 

Hopefully soon we'll see our friends so we can hand this over. Dave isn't wanting to get rid of it! 

August Finishes