Tuesday, December 29, 2015

iced in

The first week of our stay in Chicago was warm and green, with the grass and trees confused as to what they were supposed to be doing. Is it Spring already?? Now that Christmas is past it's a different story! Yesterday we had a whole day of tiny pellets of ice falling from the sky. Welcome back, Jack Frost. Everyone decided that skating down the roads in a car didn't seem like a very good winter sport, so we stayed in all day. It was awesome. I literally spent all day in my pajamas, knitting. Just what a vacation should be! Well, one day at least. Dave got me a set of Knit Picks rosewood interchangeable circular needles for Christmas - I was happy to get to test them out.

The Sunday after Christmas, my sister-in-law wanted to make a trip to Joann's to get some yarn for the girls to use with their new knitting looms, so I tagged along. Along with picking up some holiday fabrics for a new tree skirt (holiday prints half off!) and fun novelty prints to make a couple of travel laundry bags (couldn't resist the foxes) I also grabbed myself a skein of yarn to make myself some mittens. This neon purple is a Deborah Norville acrylic that is SO soft. I've mentioned before the improvement in the acrylic yarns I've been seeing recently, and I'll add this one to the list.

Give a Hoot is a free mitten pattern on Ravelry that I found in my favorites. The yarn is worsted/aran weight and suits the pattern perfectly. The only two changes I made were using needles one size smaller than the pattern called for and making the thumbs just a row longer before decreasing. They fit great (like a glove?!) and I really like the construction for the thumb gusset.

I've decided to name them 'Bubo' which is the genus of the great horned owl. Kind of a funny name for an animal with such gravitas, isn't it?
Pattern: Give a Hoot (my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Deborah Norville Everyday Soft, Bright Violet
Needles: US 5 and US 7

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mission accomplished!

Well I said I'd do it, and I did - three quilts by Christmas! I keep joking that I need to set up a "satellite card table" at Mom's... I still have my first sewing machine here and it certainly rose to the occasion this year.

I managed to baste and quilt two of the three quilts before we hopped on our flight to Chicago. The Lonestar hexagon turned out to be too big for the backing I had planned for it, so I just folded up the quilt top and packed it in my suitcase. I think that was a good thing, because our suitcases would have been even more stuffed than they were with the other two.
I got some fabric for the backing at Joann's, and Mom also helped me pick out prints for binding all three. I spent the next few evenings stitching away at the dining room table and finished the last stitches on Christmas Eve. The new year will bring more details about each one, but for now I thought I'd share a pile of the finished projects. Whew!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

posie progress

Another project that filled up some November evenings was finishing up these EPP flowers. Recall, they are from a paper piecing bee a couple years back and are destined to adorn my youngest neice's quilt. Jasmine is a pretty girly girl so I think she will enjoy all the sweet prints and the rather central focus on pink.

Another part of my day long sewing extravaganza on Monday was figuring this quilt out. I somewhat amorphously had in my head that I'd put these flowers on a background of one of my favorite peachy pink prints and that would be that. Well, I don't have enough of that print, but it is big enough to serve as a foundational piece for a larger effort. I improvised the rest of the background with a strip from a coordinating Amy Butler print and a couple pieces of linen. I actually really like the way that little detail balances out the flowers, and that second flower with the pink petals was totally lost on the background print so the linen is a big improvement there. The best laid plans are often improved upon by sheer luck!

I'm still figuring out how I am going to attach the flowers. They are safety pinned into place for now while I consider my options. Most likely I'll fight with the sewing machine and all those little angles, though recently Mom suggested I fuse them then do my quilting which sounds quite appealing. I could put the machine into FMQ mode and get around the flowers relatively easily though likely with very uneven stitches as I'm not very good at that yet. We'll see!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

all. the. yarn.

People! I went to Knit Purl! In Portland!

Dave and I went up there for a long Thanksgiving weekend and stayed downtown at the Ace Hotel. It is across the street from a living room movie theater, a block from Powell's books, and a mere two blocks to Knit Purl. Perfectly situated in my humble opinion. 

Needless to say I came home with some yarn. All Madeline Tosh by coincidence, not design. But with those colors is anyone surprised? I was sorely tempted by a beautiful silvery silky skein of Bumblebirch, but managed to put it down before Dave's head started to spin.

These three skeins of Tosh Merino Light are destined to be a Sunwalker, a relatively recent asymmetrical shawl design by Melanie Berg that caught my eye on Ravelry this summer. The colorway, Shire, is a stunning mix of dark greens and aquas with few streaks of yellow in there. I can't wait to see how it works up. Though, you will notice the yarn is still in hanks. I purposefully left them unwound so I could work on a few other things before tackling this. Aren't I good? 

These two skeins of Tosh DK are going to be a hat for Dave, by special request. He picked out these colors himself, El Greco (above) and Court & Spark (below). I am going to try to do a reversible version of a relatively simple beanie design, Violet Waffles. I think the texture will be easy enough to do and more visually pleasing than the plain stockinette he initially asked for. There will be lots of yardage leftover for some hip looking mitts to go with it, too.

I've been really good about having a project in mind for yarn when I buy it, but of course there is an exception (or several) to every rule. Tosh Chunky in Cloud Dweller was just too pretty to leave behind. Light blues with a lavender blush may make some gloves or a hat. I actually found on this trip, and the subsequent closet scrounging after, that I could use a pair of gloves so that may be the most likely place this will end up. I haven't really committed to that though. The sky's the limit (ha!). Well, the yardage actually but that was just too punny to pass up. 

Like the first time, this trip to Knit Purl was a real treat. Despite how busy they were, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful in taking the time to find me another skein of Shire, winding Dave's yarns, and recommending different neighborhoods to check out. One of them even recognized my Fomhar stole, doing duty as a scarf that day, from their Ravelry finished object forum. I was surprised she remembered let alone thought to say something about it! It made me feel welcome, and certainly impressed the heck out of the husband. ("Honey! You're 'that girl from the internet'!")

I may have had to expand my suitcase on the way home to accommodate my purchase, but I'm totally legit now having received the official Knit Purl tote for buying so much yarn. It was an unexpected but happy surprise and will be a great project bag for my larger endeavors. So go forth! Support your favorite yarn shops! They are little havens of creativity in a busy busy world that should be given every opportunity to flourish. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

quilt top comin' right up

Yesterday was my last day off between jobs, and I took advantage of the moody fall weather to make. I managed to put in a whole day (!) at the sewing machine part of which was dedicated to finishing the top to my grandpa's quilt. A week and a half ago I had stacks of squares and a mild sense of 'hmm is this going to actually happen?'

Little by little the squares were crafted into half-square triangles and then into quarter blocks. Today I took those quarter blocks and played with different options for combining them into the final blocks. The written pattern has a scrappy multi-colored look, but I ended up using the light and dark prints in each color together in one block for a more pulled together look.

I went with linen for the sashing squares. I considered using orange or red, but really like the way the natural color and texture of the somewhat rough linen plays with the gray fabric. That little bird in the background of the picture above pretty much sums up my feeling about sashing though. Not being much of a pinner, I have a hard time keeping the long strips of fabric behaving and lining up properly as I go along, so the going gets slow. In the end it all worked out and I finished up the early afternoon with a lovely looking quilt top ready for basting. 

Next I need to figure out a back and check to see if I have enough of the prints left over to make a scrappy binding. This one is well on its way!