Growing Up Odd – a finish

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A windy photo shoot in the backyard for the finally finished Growing Up Odd quilt, based on a tutorial from the Wedding Dress Blue blog.

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We were racing to take the pictures in the last of the afternoon sunshine, hampered not just by the wind but by the fact that even on a chair and stretching, my son is barely 100” tall.  My husband didn’t need the chair but then he is 6’ 4” tall, before stretching.

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This quilt is made up of 2 1/2” squares from my precut scrap bin, sashed in Kona cotton’s windsor blue.  Nine-patch, 21-patch and 49-patch sections combined into 16 giant blocks randomly rotated to make a top that after quilting and washing is almost exactly 100” x 100”.  Bigger than a queen size, not quite a king.  It will be perfect for our bed in summer when the down comforter is too warm.

This is the quilt that I spent hours pinning badly, an epic fail of tape and will.  It ended up at Quilting Longarm Magic, a local service.

This was the first time I’ve ever sent a top out for quilting by someone else.  It felt a little bit like cheating, but then there are no quilt police, and I could never have done as well on my home machine.  It isn’t something I can afford to do often, but I can see doing it again for something equally large or a quilt that deserves really special patterns.  I don’t mind quilting, but it isn’t the part I truly enjoy, so I could finish a lot more quilts with the longarm help.

I chose a meandering squares pattern goes well with the multitude of square blocks.  With all those seams, I also wanted to anchor as many of the squares as possible.  A bed quilt will go in the washing machine and needs to be sturdy.

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The pattern shows up better on this section of the backing.  The thread used is almost the same blue as this backing fabric.

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He got it back to me in less than two weeks, on Saturday, and I spent Sunday squaring it up and then using the sliced off edges to make the binding.

It gives plenty of coverage on our bed.

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This is the largest quilt top I’ve ever made, and I have ambitions to make more now that this was a success.

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P.S.  I just did the math and there are 1,552 little squares in this quilt.  And I still have even more than those left in the scrap bin.  The scraps can never be defeated!

 

Snowflake #4 – Whisper

Last week I finally finished the 4th snowflake for the Paper Cuts BOM.  A little after February, but I am officially no longer behind.

This snowflake is called Whisper, which seems appropriate for the quiet that also falls when the snow does.

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The first four snowflakes in this BOM are the smallest at 9 1/2″.  Adding strips brings them up to 12 1/2″.  From now on, it looks like the rest of the snowflakes won’t need strips to get to that size.  The blocks will be on point when the quilt is put together, though I’ve been photographing them as squares.

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Paper piecing certainly generates a lot of scrap bits, both paper and fabric.  I spend a lot of time trimming the various sections.

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This time I managed to sew them all together in the right order, at least.

And the snowflake summoning magic of the blocks continued, because after I sewed the block, the next day the trees looked like this:

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Very rare for early March around here.

I’m a little worried about what happens when I get around to the March block at the end of the month, much less the April and May blocks . . .

Sweater and slipper progress

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I’ve finished the body of the Woolford sweater.  The last skein was rather a mess – multiple knots in the yarn mean I’ll be sewing in many ends.

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After a few trials and redos, I settled on a sewn bind off.  It flares a little now, but the lower half is supposed to widen, caused by a gradual increase in needle size rather than stitch increases.  So I think it will settle in during the blocking.

It is a comfy, slouchy sweater due to the rather loose gauge I ended up with because of my yarn and needle choice, but I’m still feeling good about it and the fit.

I also suddenly remembered the slippers I was making and pulled them out of their knitting bag.  I only had one toe left to graft, so I got that done in a couple minutes.  I’ve been throwing them into various loads of laundry and they are just about there.  The yarn is Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and it felts really well.  I’ve made many pairs of slippers from it.

Before – knit on size 10 1/2 needles:

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After the first washing and drying:

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Definitely felting happening (fulling, really, if I’m going to get the terms correct):

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A couple more loads of laundry should do it.  Luckily (?) my children generate a lot of laundry.

It’s getting close to the time where I need to look around for what the next knitting projects are going to be.  I’ll need a work lunch time project and a home project soon.

WIP status report

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Progress is being made, with minor setbacks.

My at-work knitting, a ribbed cowl made from wool and silk handspun is a visual joy to knit, though I ripped it back three times until I got a width and stitch pattern I liked.  The yarn gleams and there is so much variation in the green.  I’m loving every row, and it makes the meetings go faster.

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My Woolford sweater is proceeding as well.  I’m really looking forward to wearing it sometime soon.

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My row gauge doesn’t match well with the called for gauge so I’ve made some changes in the rate of increases and decreases and I eliminated most of the lower back short rows that would have dipped the back hem as I prefer it straighter.

I’ve reached the wide lower border, which means a lot of ~300 stitch rows that I can crank out during TV or book time.  The needles are getting progressively larger as well.  I’m speeding through the yarn, which is a little worrisome as I have only eight skeins in the same dye lot.  I’m hoping the difference won’t be as noticeable if I use the different dye lot just for the sleeves.  So the first has to hold out through the lower part of the sweater.

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On the quilting front , I finally faced facts and threw in the towel on the Growing Up Odd quilting.  I paid my very broke son $5 to take out all the pins (he wanted a milkshake and I wanted to save my fingers!) and called up a local long arm quilting service.

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I made the backing larger, ironed everything, and dropped it off yesterday with a nice man named Charlie who is going to cover it with blue thread meandering squares and get it back to me in a couple weeks.  He is far better equipped to deal with a nearly king sized quilt.

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It is a very impressive machine.  My plan for my non-existent lottery winnings has a new addition.

 

 

Row by row

My work on the Woodfords cardigan continues.  I’m still amused and amazed by how it grows out in all directions.

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To get to the current stage involved joining provisionally cast on stitches at the top of the back that form the neckband to the body, then knitting down the right front panel, complete with increases marked with safety pins. ( I can’t remember what these kinds of safety pins are called, but they don’t have the little circle, coil, at the end so they don’t get stuck in the yarn.)

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Then I unraveled the crochet at the start of the provisional cast on, picked up the live stitches, and knit in the other direction for the left front, still in progress.

Because of the nature of provisional cast ons, the stitch pattern is half a stitch off where I changed directions in the neckband.  You can see it in the pic below, but when I’m wearing the sweater and the neck scrunches up some it shouldn’t be noticeable.

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I’m still having fun, and the directions are very clearly written, so I haven’t run into any problems so far. Although, as usual, I’m a little worried about the gauge. I’m using a size 5 needle with this Silky Wool yarn, but I’m wishing that I had used a 4. I think this sweater may grow over time.

 

 

Madrona

1A84D652-93E3-4291-9AB5-B597BEEC1C7EI spent the weekend with friends at the annual Madrona winter fiber retreat in Tacoma, Washington.  Four days of classes and vendors and hanging out with people who understand that knitting is an appropriate activity pretty much anywhere.

There were opportunities to see all sorts of examples of the crafts, from the stylish sheep in the pic above to even more intricate samples.

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The inexhaustive options offered by yarn were inspiring.

The Murano hotel where the retreat is held is within walking distance of the Museum of Glass and the decor is all about glass – which is similarly inexhaustive in its varieties.

55CDAB07-5148-4A8D-B60D-620A4A5A9B0AOur favorite was the kind that came with a drink in it.  I highly recommend the Murano’s chai vodka sidecars.

I didn’t take classes this time and I didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, but I learned a lot from my friends and spent time knitting and spinning.  I also spent a lot of time wandering the vendors.  So many beautiful colors and ways to display them!

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I kept my head and came home only with a new bobbin for my wheel.

But I also found a pattern I loved that I had enough yarn for in my stash.  I cast on as soon as I got home Sunday afternoon, even managing to coordinate my tea mug with the yarn.

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The pattern is a cardigan called Woodfords, and the yarn is Silky Wool.  The construction is very interesting — I’ve had to trust the pattern rather than understand it in advance and just dive in to each section as the sweater grows out in various directions.

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So far I’ve cast on with long tail and provisionally, picked up stitches, knitted in three different directions in two different stitch patterns, and added a braid in what will become the upper back.  It all seems to be working so far.

 

Covering the walls

Our previous house had very few wall spaces that were free of windows or doors, so we moved into the current house without a lot of things to hang on the wall.  One of my favorites that we do have is a wood and metal framed mirror that I bought in a trip to South Africa.

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I bought it impulsively, and then discovered that it wouldn’t even fit in the rental car — I’m not sure how I thought it was going to fit in a suitcase.  I walked right back into the shop and they mailed it to the States for me, minus the glass.  Except I lived in Israel at the time, so it sat in a friend’s storage until we moved back.  I was so happy to be reunited with it several years later.

I love everything about it: all the metal colors, the cute animals, the little nails holding all the pieces together.

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The wall hanging I’ve been working on is for the same hall.  I wanted the colors and feeling to go with it, minus the creatures.

Today, yet another snow day (those foothills on the side of the school district keep even those of us on the rainy lowlands out of school) meant sewing time to finish up the binding and hanging sleeve.

It was hard to get a picture of it hanging because of the narrow hall.  I didn’t have a dowel so it is just pinned, and at some point I need to dampen it and toss it in the dryer as it got overly pressed in places while I worked on the binding, but it is done, and up, and works in the space.  I left room between it and the mirror to hang some smaller pictures in the future.

I started without a real design plan in mind and it morphed a lot along the way, but I’m calling it a success.

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(I stood inside the coat closet to take this picture.)