Monday, August 31, 2020

week twenty four

This afternoon I started on some improvisational fabric play. I pulled out my bag of “precuts” that I made out of my scrap jars and went to town. I mostly made a mess at first until I landed on a set of 2.5” squares that I liked together. These are some of my favorite colors all pulled together into that Amy Butler floral print. It pairs very nicely with polka dots and penguins!

I saw a block online a few weeks back that I really liked. I decided to try to recreate what I saw using the pieces I had, no final size in mind. It turns out that you can definitely make a square in a square block using a 2.5” center piece as well as 2.5” squares cut in half for the edges. I read around a bit to see what different tutorials suggested and most had very specific, different sizes to use for the center vs the edge pieces. But I’m lazy. In the end just tried it out to see what would happen. All I had to do was trim a little bit when they were finished. It worked great. They were just a little over 3.25” and when everything was sewn together the block ended up being just shy of 9 inches square. The seams are crisp, the points match up, and it looks fantastic. I’m not sure this would work as well with bigger squares, there might be way more waste. I potentially landed on just the right size starting squares to make it work out ok. Dunno. 

I really liked how the first block turned out, so I decided more were in order. As I worked on my penguins and florals I noticed that the colors were slant rhyme complementary (red/green) and so I decided I would do a couple more blocks in the other complementary pairs. This block below is also from all 2.5” squares and is fashioned after a picture of a pillow I had saved in my Pinterest inspiration boards. I don’t like it as much as I like the first one, but for now I’m going to keep it around. I think I want less of the lighter colors if I’m going to use them together. Between the white and the peach print it feels a bit washed out when sitting with my first block. It is about a half inch smaller in dimension, too, so will be more difficult to put together into the same piece. Still, I stuck with my initial plan of not worrying about finished size to keep the freedom of playing intact. 

This last one turned out super cool. I actually was on the phone with a friend as I played around with squares and colors and layout for this one. I even sewed it while we talked. I started with some simple four patches from 2.5” squares and then from there made the other two blocks starting with large HSTs made from some 5” squares. I wanted more interest, so I started snowballing corners and using waste HSTs from that to do the same to the other side and ended up with two awesome looking blocks. They look hard, but totally weren’t - remember I was on the phone and randomly making decisions while doing this! When I sewed the four together I trimmed up the four patches to match the size of my improvised diagonals and that makes them look less symmetrical. I totally lucked out that the magenta triangles match up well with the two inner squares to make a cohesive shape. And I love it. It surprisingly turned out 9 inches square, the same as my first block. I think I may be making a different orange and blue one... 

What to do with the fruits of my labor? Well, the photo for the first block was part of a tutorial on how to connect blocks that have already been layered and quilted. I think I’d like to that with these blocks, too. They will be fun small pieces for me to work on my quilting skills. I want to play with some shapes other than straight lines and see how I can use different shapes to enhance the block designs rather than just using an all over design like I have before. Then I’ll join them together. I think a 3 block strip for a wall hanging might look pretty nice in my studio. Then it can serve as a reminder that a little bit of unplanned sewing can be satisfying, too. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

julekulers begun

Soooo week 23 post quarantine went by in a flurry of anxiety because of the wildfires. Ick. Not much of anything except reading CalFire updates, worrying, and more worrying was happening until just a couple days ago. We finally found a little bit of comfort the last few days in both the fact that the fires are getting more under control and (for me) in knitting these little guys. 

Julekulers are definitely comfort knitting! They’re quick and fun, and I really enjoy reading the little blurbs about the different patterns. I’m not sure how many of these will get made this year, but I’ve got a good start already. I’ve been mostly browsing through the book looking for patterns I haven’t made yet. I’m finding that I enjoy the ones where there isn’t as much behind the scenes twisting of the yarns. The red and white one had short enough color runs in each row that there was NO twisting. It went much faster and I was much less frustrated by tangled yarn. I would like to try some in chunkier yarn and in leftover colors that aren’t necessarily holiday related, too. I think they would look quite pretty as well. For now I’m sticking with holiday baubles for gifting. Can’t wait until I have a bowlful. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

week twenty two

 I’ve been wanting to knit lately. That’s somewhat strange given the fact that it’s so incredibly hot outside - in the 100s! - but there it is. I should say that I also did finish a couple more hexagons for my tree skirt this week and picked out a layout, but that’s for another post when I actually have it done... sometime before Christmas. Back to yarn. Current mood: use things in the stash.

These three lovelies are from my Honey Girl Farms Outlander Yarn Club that I was in for a while. I was accumulating too many skeins without using them so I paused it. The colors are so nice and I really like the silky yarn base, so maybe someday if she’s still got it going I’ll start up again. Along comes an itch to make another large shawl and boom, three skeins will get used. It’s a somewhat unusual combination, but that is just what I was going for. This piece will have narrow stripes and panels of lace. In theory the stripes could be very contrast-y, but I am curious to see how the blue and green mottled yarns play together. I think once the fabric gets larger the stripes will become apparent. It’s reminding me of a dragon’s scales or a phoenix feather right now. Such pretty colors.

The pattern is out of a book I got down at a new-to-me shop in Monterey sometime before the pandemic - The Before Time. It’s going to be an asymmetrical sideways chevron which is a new construction for me. It should be really interesting! 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Minion Madness quilt, finished

Ta da! My version of Nordic Triangles aka Minion Madness is done! To say I’m happy with this quilt is an understatement. Not only are the colors outside my usual yet super satisfying, I feel pretty good that everything except the big yardage (i.e. background and backing) was already in my stash and I found a way to combine them to make this awesome looking quilt. 

I’ve got lots of florals and more “feminine” prints so the challenge of making a quilt for my brother out of stash was a fun one to tackle. I think the liberal use of solids was a good idea, and even the oranges mostly read as solids. The only real print involved in the front is that blue Amy Butler ikat, but that’s got all the good video game colors in it (like old school Mario Bros!) so it’s pretty perfect. I kept the quilting simple and geometric, too. The orange thread really pops with all the gray and blue. The resulting puffy stripes work really well with all the angles and remind me of those super puffy winter coats.  

This binding makes me laugh, which I suppose was the whole idea when I bought it. I’m glad it worked out despite the larger scale of the print. The little eyes peeking around the edge of the quilt are truly goofy.

And then there’s the backing fabric. Along with a nice big stripe of eyes (which, after all, had to fully shine somewhere) I used a couple yards of minions in rockets. This print was what decided me in making a quilt for my brother’s birthday in the first place. Usually the backing is the last thing I think about but in this case I started from here. It’s a nice bright, hilarious print that is soooooo brother. 

I can hear the little minions all shouting with joy as their rockets propel through the air towards whatever misadventure they’re about to get into next. I used gray thread on the back so it blends in more with the print figuring the orange would be too much. 

It turned out to be 51” x 68” which is a pretty good size. He’s a tall dude so this should be a good couch quilt for him to hang out under after all the kids are asleep. It will get to hang around until his birthday in October when it will be packed up and sent over to him, hopefully with a minimum of minion shenanigans on the way. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

week twenty one

This afternoon had me enjoying my new clips as I started binding my brother’s birthday quilt. I used these for the quilted hexagons, too, but I think where I’ve really been missing them is in applying binding. This will make it so much more pleasant to sew my way around the quilt. These are the perfect size for this task, not to big and not too small, and they hold things together with a very firm grip. 

I have to say I’ll be sorry to give this one up. This binding makes me giggle, and I’m enjoying the fact that I had enough of it to also get a good section of the backing covered in surprised minion eyes as well. And that minion flying the rocket ship just kills me. COVID is crap and I am bummed I won’t be going home for this birthday, but I am extremely pleased with the way my stand in is turning out. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Lost in the Woods

I’ve really got that whole winter hat thing taken care of this year. Not that I didn’t already have enough as it was.... but in this case I used up some leftover yarn from making my Aslan cowl to try out a matching hat. I apparently can’t wait for cold weather this year. 

It’s a relatively straightforward pattern without too much difficulty. In fact the hardest part was just finding the right size circular needle in my drawer. I made the brim longer so I can fold it up to wear as a fitted beanie. It looks good as a slouchy hat too, but I like the beanie best. I like this colorway a lot; it reminds me of a piney forest on a gray day. The song “Lost in the Woods” from Frozen 2 makes me chuckle, so the moniker stuck to this one when I was searching my brain. Who doesn’t love a good 80s rock ballad?

Pattern: Squarshy Hat (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: madelinetosh chunky in ‘plaid blanket’
Needle: US 10 (6 mm) and US 8 (5 mm)

Monday, August 3, 2020

week twenty

August seems like a long way away from March. In fact it is just as far from August to late December and the holidays. I guess that’s a bit of a comfort that not much time has passed since COVID barged into life in a big way. Though then I suppose it’s a sign that there isn’t that much time until Christmas. Yikes! Alternatively, there’s a lot of time until Christmas, and it’s been a correspondingly long time since we’ve been hunkered down doing our best to stay away from people we don’t live with? Nevermind, I’m not sure either of those scenarios brings any comfort. 

I finished my hexagons for the new tree skirt last week, and those little piles of pressed puffs are very satisfying. I considered hand stitching them but decided to try a few top stitched and then quickly realized everything was gonna be ok. They looked pretty questionable pinned down. I wasn’t sure things were going to line up at speed in the machine vs being able to get it ‘just so’ with hand stitching. Turns out I worried for nothing. It’s just fine. I am still glad I used thread that matches the background fabric.

My current issue I’m having is that of layout. I (incorrectly) figured in my head that with three prints I would be able to lay this out without duplicates touching each other if I did equal numbers of each print. Ooooops. That turns out to be just wrong. Alas. So now I’ve got a few choices of layout, or as my mom so astutely observed, I could just make a few more hexagons to make it work and use the others for something else. 

I’m not in love with any of the designs I’ve come up with yet. I like the mixed up look in the first picture, and I also like this second layout with the red focal points on the outside and the candy cane stripe in the middle. I definitely don’t like this last option with organized wedges. It just doesn’t read right to me. 

What I might try to do is make as much of the shape as I can with everything truly mixed and see if I like the way it looks compared to the second picture. In the second design, I could just take the two innermost red hexies out, make one more each of the candy cane and trees, and try the innermost round as an alternating blue/white round. At least there’s plenty of time until Christmas! Or is there??