Thursday, March 27, 2014

weekend warriors

My weekends have been full. Full of errands, horses, friends, husband, cat, and … home improvement. Last weekend Dave and I decided to rip off the proverbial bandaid and finish up our office in Palo Alto. We've gotten rid of almost every piece of furniture in there (except the awesome couch, which is now in our living room), painted, got desks and chairs, and thoughtfully placed artwork. There was just one last task: detail on the wall. 

We decided when we conceptualized the room that we really wanted some striking painted detail on the wall in a deep turquoise color ("Realm" by Behr, if you're curious) to complement a beautiful vase we got for our wedding. So we settled on a herringbone pattern. 

It took some time to decide where to put it, how wide to make the stripes etc. In the end it was all about improvising something that looked 'about right'. 

You can see my highly technical improvisation method here. Yes, that's tape in my hair.

Once I decided about how big to make things and what angle to use, I got out my trusty quilting ruler to help me along the way. It was a loooot of tape, four hands, and quite a bit of patience, but we got it all taped out in an hour or so.

And I even got to painting it that evening! The first coat went on with me feeling like the Karate Kid: paint the house, paint the fence.

My arms were pretty sore for the second coat the next day, but I'd say the results are worth it. We are both excited to have a space to work in that provides mental space and simplicity but is also reflective of our somewhat quirky personalities. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

wip it good

The thing about knitting is, there's a hierarchy. New projects are pretty much always at the top of the heap in my house. This leads to the hilarity of having several projects I've been working on for-ev-er. This project is one of those that I brought up to Sacramento with me and it's been languishing in the storage ottoman while I've knit literally half a dozen other things. I've been working on this sweater for quite some time now. That's totally fine with me, but I can't really rationalize trying out a multitude of other sweater patterns until I give one I'm working on a fighting chance.

Back to the hierarchy. When I end up working on a project that requires a lot of concentration, new projects look even MORE attractive. What I've managed to make my brain do now, however, is to want to work on this project because a) it's literally the only one in my possession right now (I left my attention-requiring project in Palo Alto by accident last weekend) and b) because it's actually not that brain-intensive now that I've read through the whole pattern and planned out how I will change it to be a cardigan instead of a pullover. I also think it helps that I've done a lot of knitting since I started this, and I've learned a thing or two. I'm hoping this also ends up being a learning experience that I can use to be confident in trying out a bunch of appealing sweater patterns I've been ogling on Ravelry lately.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

evening wear

Last night I looked down at my feet to see this: 

Yep, I'm at it again. True to prediction, now that I've started working on the hand quilting again, I've been thinking about when I get to work away at it next. That's a good sign. I put in an hour and a half or so and got a lot of progress made. My hands are letting me know, too. Those quilting betweens are tiny and hard to grip! Between knitting, quilting, and typing my poor metacarpals are getting quite the action lately. 

You can't tell, but the center panels are almost done. All that is left is 22 little squares to outline in the patchwork, not that I'm counting. When those are done it's on to the task of marking and quilting the moat of blue. That should actually go pretty fast because there won't be so many stops and starts, just those required to start another long piece of thread. But I'm sure that actually getting the marking done is going to be another activation barrier….

I'm reasonably sure I'm deviating from the class instructions on this, but that's ok. I'm just sort of quilting as I see fit. I especially like my choice to go with an off-axis 'x' in this corner patch here. Additionally I don't think I'm going to quilt in that Storm At Sea patchwork to the upper left. I just can't see anything that won't take away from the little vignettes I've incorporated from the toile I used. Vivre la difference!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Charm scarflet, finished

This evening I curled up in my chair, feet up on my fuzzy purple ottoman, and finished this keyhole scarf. It's headed to Tara, and judging by her response to my texted picture, she likes it already. I think it suits her quirky sense of style (a gal after my own heart, indeed).

I decided not to block it at all. Reviews of the pattern I read were mixed with some folks saying it looked a lot better after blocking and some saying the curling of the neck section made it nicer to wear. I settled for a compromise and hand-stretched the piece. It's sitting folded up on my ironing board right now and it's staying flat just fine. When I tried it on, I liked that the leaves puckered a little bit. It will look really nice peeking out of a wool coat or a trench rain coat -- something we are finally using up here in Sacramento. 

The pattern, Anthro-inspired Scarflet, called for aran weight yarn but I wanted to use this teal/blue that was DK so I just held two strands together throughout and it worked out just fine. A lighter weight yarn likely wouldn't hold the structure this requires with just a single strand. The 'ribbing' is less pronounced than I was expecting, in that the fabric is quite flat instead of heavily ridged. In the end I think that's ok because I'm not sure I'd want a big fluffy leaf sticking off my neck anyway. 

Happy to have had this project turn into a stash buster. I just about used up this yarn I bought in Delft -- a little left over for some fun scrappy project in the future. I remember originally wanting to make this yarn into panels for a purse that mimicked the Delftware motifs we saw all over the Netherlands. Alas, it never came to be, but I think this yarn is much more at home as a scarf and it's going to a good home.