Tuesday, September 22, 2015

cables for fall

I couldn't resist casting on just one more project! This is one of the skeins of yarn I bought at Nine Rubies earlier this month and it is working up nicely into a Hediye, a pattern from Ysolda Teague's Knitworthy collection. Each Knitworthy project I've done so far turned out great and was a fun, quick knit. This is living up to that as well.

I LOVE the color, whiskey barrel, and how this yarn is working up. It's so springy and the stitch definition is lovely. The pattern looks more complicated than it actually is, and by this point I've memorized the repeat. I'm also taking Ysolda's advice and practicing cabling without a cable needle. Since these are just four-stitch cables, I haven't had any problem with dropped stitches (yet!) and it does go much faster. I am really enjoying learning new skills with this, which makes me want to work on it all the time! It's been following me around, since it's still quite compact and portable. 

I've been reading so much about folks working on cabled projects for fall that it seems I had to join in the fun. With an Aidez, a Tree of Life, and this all going at once I can see the theme for this season is textured knitting! Lots of cables to be had. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

a bit of blanket

Before I got all the yarn I could get my hands on vacation week, I was limiting myself to finishing projects I had on the needles before doing more than just casting on and test tasting something new. That led to the completion of Mo Chridhe, Endor, Kelpie, and recently Fomhar. Not bad!! My sweater is still going but I needed another project to break it up. Can't have just one can we?

Mom gifted me yarn and the pattern for a Tree of Life afghan some time ago. It looks like a really fun pattern. Mission Finish Things accomplished, I now have a few inches done and one ball of yarn knit up. It is working up rather quickly for me because it's fun to see the motifs emerge with each row! 

I really like the gray she picked and am looking forward to an autumn of stitching up my little forest. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fomhar, stitched

Another side effect of Mom's vacation was lots of evening time to chat, relax, and work on yarny projects. Mom brought her Pendulum along and I had this stole to sit and work on. One day we even took our projects to a local park bench for a few hours in the afternoon. I was happy to see that a few folks who walked by peeked over and smiled. It was pretty funny though because while I was working on crochet and Mom on knitting, we are each actually much more comfortable with the opposite! I was teaching Mom wrap & turns while grumbling about tangling my stitches making clusters. It was one of my favorite parts of the vacation though. I wish we could spend more time on park benches whiling the time away like that. All I had to think about was what stitch came next and 'ooh how pretty the leaves look in this light'. Bliss!

Turns out there are a LOT of clusters in these borders! It made for slow going, but a few days of diligent work brought me to the end of the final round on the last evening Mom was here. I'm curious to see how the clusters and chain loops end up looking when the piece is blocked. (It's really difficult to photograph this yarn and get the colors to shine through, but in the photo below the color shows up really well.)

I'm super excited this is finished just in time for Fall. I hope it gets cool enough that this will be a nice layer to bring along to work and play. Stay tuned for the block.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

shopping extravaganza part 2: yarn

In this latest installment of "what I did on my Mom's summer vacation" I bring you yarn. In addition to visiting a trail of fabric shops, we also ended up at some yarn shops. And really, who goes into a yarn shop and doesn't come out with a little something? I have yet to figure out that skill!

These first skeins technically weren't purchased while Mom was here, but I did get them at a place we visited our first day, Fengari in Half Moon bay. I happened upon Fengari recently while visiting HMB Main Street with Dave, and I am so glad I did. Once inside one wanders through a jumble of colorful yarns piled high and low, in corners and on shelves. The lovelies below are Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK. The color, alizarin, is a wonderful pinky purple with streaks of orange and blueish purple mixed in. I think it's going to look great as a Kir Royale.

On our jaunt over to 'Joann's across the Bay' Mom and I enjoyed walking through their large yarn section. Again, the local store just doesn't have much but this one has more colors and more yarn types. There was a range of Lion Brand yarns including a variety of their beautifully colored fisherman's wool. I was actually really happy to see that many brands are coming out with some high quality acrylic yarns. I love my Madtosh, but wool sometimes gets to me. The yarn below is Red Heart Unforgettable, one of their boutique acrylic yarns, and it is as soft as it looks! All of the color combinations they had were gorgeous, though variegated. It would be nice to see some solids one day. I'm not sure what I'll do with this yarn, but Mom got both me and her a couple skeins to experiment with. 

No trip would be complete without a stop into Nine Rubies in San Mateo. We had fun walking around and looking at all the samples they had knit up and enjoying the orderly shelves of yarn. I'm going to figure out how to make it to a knit night there someday, though that might be hard on my wallet. I can't walk in there without coming out with something. Case in point: the top cake, Tosh Merino Light in Calligraphy, is a wonderful mix of blush, dove gray, and cream. I have decided I'm going to learn to make socks with it. The other two are Tosh DK in Terra and Whiskey Barrel. I've already started knitting them into a Hediye. Mom helped me pick out the colors. I had the brown in my hand and she suggested I branch out into colors I don't usually use (I was looking at greens and purples). The orange is going to make this a great Fall piece. 

After picking up all of that yarn you'd hardly think I needed any more. But the King's Mountain Art Fair was this past weekend and of course we took Mom up the mountain to enjoy it. There's a great mixture of artisans at this event: jewelry, paintings, pottery, clothing, even a haberdashery! In addition to the booths with already-made items, there were a couple of folks who had yarn, much to my delight. I wasn't going to pick any up, but Dave actually mentioned how pretty the variegated skein was and asked if I wanted some. How could I refuse!? We picked out the second to go with it so I can make a larger piece with both of them. They are a merino/nylon blend and feel soft and springy to the touch. Can't wait to wind these up and work with them. I'll probably try a triangle wrap with stripes!

All together this is quite the stash infusion. I've been really good at using yarn from my stash for projects this past year so I do feel like I had some room for these. It also helps that I've tried sticking to picking out a project, or at least a type of project, when I get the yarn rather than just buying willy nilly. That said, keep an eye out for these to start turning into projects soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Birthday Bouquet, finished

This is a very special finish. I made a quilt for Mom's birthday! A while back I was perusing Craftsy for fabric and other supplies (let's be honest - yarn) and I came across a kit for this beautiful quilt. The pattern is called Sweet Melody, and the prints are all from Anna Maria Horner's collection Folk Song. Looking at the fabrics with their bright colors and pretty flowers I decided it was time to make Mom a quilt and there was plenty of time left before her birthday in mid-August.

I cut the pieces back in July and, given that I could chain piece a lot of it, the quilt top went really fast. I had it done in about a week. I love the way the design shows off the prints in the relatively large HSTs and the trellis of checkers reminds me of McKenzie-Childs designs that Mom and I both really like.

Over-confident me figured I'd have it done well in time for her actual birthday and of course when I heard she was coming out to visit at the end of August I decided to give it to her in person and have even more time. Haha. I hemmed and hawed about what fabric to use for the back and before I knew it arrival day had come. Turns out that was totally fine because then I had a basting buddy! It was way more fun sandwiching and pinning than I usually have, plus I got to show Mom how quilts are made ;). 

For the back, I landed on this great print I got from Hancock's of Paducah a couple years ago. I bought a lot of it because I loved it and it turns out that was great because there was plenty for a quilt back and plenty to spare. In addition to the leafy waterfall, there are a range of swankily dressed women in hats, bell bottoms, and bright colors. While not a coordinating print to the front, all the colors are there and it pretty much sums up Mom and I. We should both pick out avatars from among the ladies.

After basting I lightly quilted some diagonal lines to mimic the trellis pattern. I set the sewing machine up on the dining room table and showed Mom my walking foot contraption and how I roll up the quilt to get it through my machine. All of this makes it sound like my mom is not sewing savvy. Nothing could be farther from the truth! This is the person who taught me how to sew, crochet, and craft. She can make clothes like nobody's business (still a weak spot for me) but she hasn't ever made a quilt. Hence, the super special let-me-make-you-a-quilt-in-exchange-for-all-those-clothes-you-made-me nature of the project. I'm hoping she feels like she can go home and try something for herself now that she's seen how everything is done. 

We were so happy when it was finished (the day before she left!) we dragged Dave outside for some family photo time. After binding, the quilt ended up about 44" x 60". I bound it in the navy solid, as requested in the pattern, but instead of a 2.5" strip I used 2.75". I also did something a little bit different in the application. Instead of sewing on the front and flipping to the back to secure with zig zag stitching like I normally do, I sewed first to the back and then flipped to the front so I had more control over where the stitches landed. I used a red-orange thread that stood out really nicely against the navy and just tracked down the middle of the binding, rather than the edge, for a decorative finish.

I'm really glad to have found the perfect project to use these ladies on -- they are a great quilt back. You can also somewhat see the quilting lines in this photo, just a simple diagonal lattice. 

Here Mom is pointing out how great the backing coordinates with the flower prints on the front.

I've named it Birthday Bouquet for reasons I imagine are obvious. This is one bouquet of flowers that will last and last. Happy birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

shopping extravaganza part 1: fabric

One of the best things about being together with my mom is going out shopping together! This trip was no exception, and I thought it would be fun to compile our crafty purchases in one place so I can remember when and where we acquired what. Part one, fabric.

I hadn't had much luck of finding a fabric store I really loved out here. I went to an amazing place in Portland that had a lot of modern fabrics that were up my alley, but never found anywhere similar near home. Instead, I've been relying on online purchases (when I make them -- I've been on quite the fabric diet!) which are not nearly as fun. Mom and I went on a quest to sample many of the brick and mortar establishments in the area, and we found a few gems! 

These first fabrics are from a place in Milpitas called The Intrepid Thread. I've purchased quite a few things from them online in the past, and was excited to see that they are making an actual store work. I much prefer to see fabric in person and they have a wonderful selection! Not only are there a great bunch of quilting cotton designers and collections, but it looks like I can go here for some lightweight canvas and knits as well. I would have loved to walk out with one of everything. These are Cotton & Steel; the two feature prints are designs by Sarah Watts. I started out picking up the horses (no surprise there) and picked a few coordinating fabrics with Mom's help. This way I can make a bag or a quilt and look like I planned it all along! Mom got a few yards of fabric, too. 

This next stack of fabrics is slated to be a quilt for my grandfather. I'm hoping to have it done in time to be a Christmas gift. It will happen! These lovely prints were purchased at The Granary in Los Altos. I must admit, I was surprised that I liked this store as much as I did given that their website and front window give the impression of a very traditional shop. But walking in they had one of my favorite quilts - Science Fair by Jaybird Quilts - hanging from the ceiling. How can that be a bad thing?? I found this unusual textured solid that I hope will be a great background fabric, and they have lots of blenders that I will definitely be headed back for in the future, including all the colors of that sketch print fourth from the top in the stack below. I had a hard time finding these because I had a very specific color scheme in mind and was looking for more geometric/masculine prints, but there were many fabrics that I liked that didn't fit my very specific shopping list this time around. On top of that, the women in the shop were very friendly, and it's a short drive to get there. 

And of course, there's my old standby, the Joann's across the Bay. Our local store is somewhat small and doesn't have a great selection of fabrics beyond fleece and flannel, but a jaunt across the Dumbarton gets me to a bigger store with a pretty good selection of quilting cottons. I've gotten Denyse Schmidt prints there before, and this time around I'm pretty sure I saw some Lotta Jansdotter sprinkled on the shelves. I stocked up on my favorite linen and found these two pretty prints. Not sure what I'll use them for but I liked the motifs and colors, especially the gray.

To top it all off, Mom got me a new rotary cutter (after trying to use mine on the hexagon blocks we made), a marking pen (after I used mine up on my Medallion quilt), and a 12.5" square ruler. I'm excited about the ruler especially because I hope this means squaring up blocks won't be as miserable, but the new rotary cutter is going to be amazing, too. Mine doesn't actually keep the blade out anymore unless you keep pressure on the switch. Armed with that and these new fabrics I've got quite a few fun days ahead!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Modern Medallion, finished

It's finished!!! I missed August by just two days, but I put the last stitch into the dogwood border of this quilt THREE YEARS after I finished the top. Yikes, that's a long time. I started this as part of an online class ('Handstitched' from Stitched in Color) in June 2012 and finished the top by the end of August. It sat for a time until December when it was basted, and then hung around for hand quilting until last February when I was in Sacramento. I stuck to my resolution to take my time and work on the quilting when I felt like I'd enjoy it instead of feeling like I had to get it done. After all, this one's for us.

All of these fabrics were pulled from my fledgling fabric stash, and include some non conventional bits and bobs: corduroy, toile, lightweight canvas, linen, even an old shirt. I like the texture from all the different fabrics and they turned out just fine when I washed the quilt (after an unfortunate run-in with Newton mid-quilting). 

For the back, I used a single piece of linen print I got at IKEA. It's busy enough that I wasn't concerned about my quilting stitches being perfect on the back -- wise for a first attempt, methinks. 

I'm tickled with how the dogwood quilting in the border turned out. The colors stand out nicely against the blue linen and the puckers from the stitching add more texture. This part was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Similarly to the rest of the quilting, I didn't use a hoop. I felt like I could get into a pretty good groove and had better luck loading the stitches evenly without one.

There's a bit of straight line quilting in the other parts of the quilt -- though I left these Storm at Sea blocks in the corners alone. I fussy cut a few of the fabrics for these and I didn't want to quilt through the little vignettes. 

These little appliqu├ęd dogwood blossoms are one of my favorite parts. 

The blossoms are second to this amazing embroidery setting off the center medallion. That was super fun to do and I love the design. 

In the sprit of hand stitching I even hand stitched down the binding on the back! That's a departure from my usual zig-zag sewn on bindings, but it seemed appropriate here. I used the same blue linen as I used in the main border round. It was a pain to put on but should be pretty sturdy.  

All in all, it is really fun to look back on this quilt and see all the lessons I learned along the way. I'm really happy with how it turned out -- unabashedly bright! I also think this design strikes a chord with my tastes: modern but with a nod to the traditional. One important takeaway is that even if it takes three and a half years, that's a-ok! What's the rush, anyway? Creativity takes time and I'm sure rushing the process would have ended up with something I was less than happy with. As it stands I think I'll be changing my duvet soon so we can spread this out on the bed and enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2015

a helping hand

Mom came to visit last week! For a whole week! I got to show off some of my projects in progress in person, which was a real treat. One of the first things I got out of my closet was the pieces of Samara's Lonestar Hexagon quilt. Everything is looking pretty great, I just needed to make two more blocks. I enlisted Mom's help pretty much as soon as she walked in the door ;). 

It was fun having a buddy in the craft room, and we made pretty quick work of picking out fabrics and cutting all the pieces. Sewing them up took a little bit longer, but with Mom at the ironing board pressing all the seams and me piecing at the machine, we finished both blocks before bedtime.  I think the one above is one of my favorites from the whole quilt! There's just something about those navy polka dots.

Next step is to fit these two into the layout with the rest of the blocks and to get the top pieced. I can totally imagine this being done for the holidays this year - finally!