Switching between crafts

For a long time I didn’t do a lot of knitting. I was spending my available time with quilts, and just didn’t pick up the needles much. And there was a time in there as well when I was spinning and spinning.

But now I seem to be back to knitting. I have several WIP quilt tops that I can’t be bothered to complete somehow, other than a baby quilt back and the start of summer. And my spinning wheel is getting pretty dusty. But the yarn keeps my attention, whether soft as a breeze garter stitch scarves or actual sweaters.

And I have a finish! After a lot of trauma with the pattern, restarting and revising multiple times, I’ve finished a sweater that I absolutely love.

This sweater is a combination of a Caramel cardigan for the background sweater and the floral chart from the Papa sweater.

More accurate colors in this daylight picture.

I tried really hard with the actual Papa sweater pattern. I knit the body almost completely twice, and a third time halfway. But I couldn’t get past the puckery gathers. Because the sweater is designed not to have any increases in the space where it is charted for the flowers, there are a TON of increases in a short space. And it just was too much for me and the yarn I’d chosen, a wool/silk blend from Cascade called Roslyn.

I tried variations on the increases, but it was never going to be something I’d wear.

Attempt number three to like this pattern

So, looking for alternatives, I found the Caramel cardigan. I’m always going to wear a cardigan more than a pullover anyway, and I liked the idea of moving the flowers to the lower border. I’d always planned to do them as duplicate stitch rather than stranded, so the number of stitches not matching was not a worry – I could fudge the chart when it came time to stitch them in.

Caramel is a simple and drapey pattern so it went smoothly. Then I had to audition a lot of reds for the flowers. A red Roslyn didn’t cover as much, and doubling up fingering weights didn’t give me what I wanted, but worsted weight did. So I ordered a couple different Cascade 220 bright and deep reds and one of them was perfect. (I just wish I could remember which one was the winner – I seem to have lost the ball band.)

I ended up trying five different red yarns.

I watched a lot of BritBox shows while doing this duplicate stitch. I’m a huge fan of Gardener’s World, and when I ran out of new episodes and had to wait, I switched to a favorite low-budget sci-fi show, Red Dwarf. There have also been a lot of district meetings about online teaching, so I added flowers during those too. (It helped with the despair created by that many Zoom meetings and training videos.)

The finished sweater fits, it is slouchy and comfortable and bright and cheerful and I am so happy I persevered through all the rows and rows of yoke increases that went nowhere.

And now a new sweater is being born on the needles. I like to try new construction methods and I don’t like to sew in sleeves, so the Spøjs cardigan is perfect. It is knit in two halves and then those are knit together while binding off the provisional cast-on. I’ve learned a new stitch making it: the half fisherman’s rib, which is easy but interesting to make. I’m using Roslyn again because I enjoyed its feel so much that I ordered two more colors (and a third just found its way into my shopping cart).

The color is a dull, dusty brown, and given my mood when I cast on – the PNW on fire everywhere and confined indoors because of the horrendous air, after months of being confined at home because of a still worsening pandemic, the latest weather news that they’d run out of letters for hurricanes and had to switch alphabets, and then RBG died . . . last week was like the world couldn’t get any worse. I’m basically waiting for the Big One earthquake or an alien abduction at this point. So I’ve named this sweater the Ashes of 2020. I’m hoping 2021 will arise like a phoenix from these ashes. Or, at least I’ll have a new sweater to wear as the authoritarian order cracks down and I have to join the resistance and live in the woods. The part that hasn’t burned down anyway.

Maybe too much warm?

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I finished up the quilting and binding of the baby quilt I’m making for my teaching team member.

I also knit a colorful sweater for the soon-to-arrive baby boy.  As I was knitting and sewing from stash to avoid leaving the house, the colors of the two presents don’t go together, which sort of bothered me through the whole process.  But I doubt the baby will care.

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Blankets and wool sweaters for a baby due to be born in the middle of the summer heat.  Maybe not my best decision making?

I did try to make the sweater a size for a slightly grown baby, hoping it will fit when winter rolls back around.  It was 91 degrees here yesterday, so the sweater is definitely going in a drawer for some months.

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But first it is going on their front porch, while I ring the bell and then dart away, masked, to avoid spreading viruses.   The world is so weird right now.

 

Top finished

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I’ve finished the baby quilt top for my friend who is due next month.

It’s definitely not traditional colors for babies, but she is very much a natural tones person. The baby’s room has pale gray walls and white furniture, So these colors will fit in. I was originally going to make it all neutrals, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding in the coral and gold. I love how it turned out!

It’s a little busy, which is part of why I love it, so I made the back just four big rectangles. They can flip it over if they need to rest their eyes.

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I hope to get it quilted and in the mail this weekend. Normally I would just give it to her, but these are not normal times.  It’s weird to think that I may not even see this baby in person for months.

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I have a couple of quilt tops now in the line to be quilted, but I’m hampered by a lack of a place to sandwich and pin them. I don’t like to do it on the hardwood floors for fear of scratching. Usually I do them at work on the concrete floors there but that isn’t an option now. Maybe the garage floor? During the stay at home isolation my son has really cleaned up the garage so that he could use it as a workout area. So the floor in there is probably clean enough to pin on now.

Finished scarf

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I finished my woven scarf and am declaring it a success.

You can read about the set up for this project in this post.

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I wove until I was having to fight to get the stick shuttle through the shed — the top and bottom of the warp get too close together to pass through smoothly, particularly with the mess of criss-crossing strands caused by using a variety of different yarns and spacing them randomly along the heddle.  When I weave with just one yarn I can be tidier and weave much closer to the end before I have to stop.

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Because the strands at towards the ends tend to resist moving up and down, especially the “stickier” alpaca yarn, I had to be vigilant to make sure I wasn’t skipping over (or under) any threads I shouldn’t have.  You can see in the picture above that I missed in one place.  The weft is going over three warp threads, when it should be under the middle thread.

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This was very close to the end of my weaving, so I just cut the warp thread, pulled it back through to the spot I missed, and then wove it in properly with a tapestry needle.

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Then I cut the rest of the warp threads loose and pulled them out of the heddle.

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Knots keep the whole thing from unraveling — every five stands together keeps things in place and makes a nice fringe.

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The finished scarf is a little rough and bumpy, so the next step is to even that out.

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A good sloshing soak relaxes the yarns and smooths out the tension.

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Some time drying in a slight breeze, a trim to even out the fringe, and I have a new scarf to put into the gift drawer.

 

 

 

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!

 

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.)

 

Done is better than perfect

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After more than two years, my red and white Xs quilt is finally done!  It waited in its box for a long, long time before getting quilted.

The background is all loops, really the only free motion pattern I can manage over wide areas.  But I did try some new quilting patterns inside the Xs.  I gave up quickly and picked out my free motion attempts at fillers, but I had more success with the walking foot.

I used the border to practice some simple dot to dot lines, marking my turning points with pins.  Then I went back and did more in the Xs that had relatively large open areas.  Nothing complex, but I got better as I went on.

There were a LOT of thread ends to bury!

I used the bright red for the binding which went on really fast after all the pulling and pausing and turning during the quilting.

We no longer have a house with an upper deck, so my tall husband did his best to hold it up in the kitchen.

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It is done just in time to put it on the couch for Christmas.  I guess I need to make a blue and white one for Hanukkah next since we celebrate both.  It is too late for this year – the last candle was a few days ago – but I can have it ready for next year.

I was really scared to put this one in the washer.  I would have skipped that step, but after being dragged around for all the sewing, the quilt needed to be cleaned.   I didn’t think to prewash the fabric way back when I was starting the blocks. I never prewash, but this time it would have been wiser.  Red and white – the bleeding potential was very high.

I did a lot of research about washing it and ended up putting it in with as much water as the washer allowed and double rinsing.  I also threw in six color catchers (the normal amount is one, maybe two for really strong colors).  They came out pretty pink:

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But the quilt did not.  Yay!

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The back is a crowded red and white winter village.  It is busy enough that the quilting doesn’t really show, neither the white or red thread.

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I especially like like the little snowflakes falling on the rooftops.

044A1B9D-AA48-44D6-8EAC-1A47500D0C3CThe quilt is done, the tree is trimmed.  Now I just need to do absolutely everything else for the holidays.  It may be time to start panicking.

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Grellow

One of my favorite color combinations is gray and yellow. My new kitchen floor and backsplash are examples of that, although with the yellow turned way down.  Add in a warm brown, and it really helps with the rather washed out falls and winters around here.

So when we got our new living room couch a while ago, I inevitably chose a rather gray toned brown fabric, to go with the accent walls my sister painted yellow for me.

But a new couch demands a new quilt, right?

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I actually made the top last winter, and pinned the quilt sandwich in my school library the day I had to stay late for evening graduation back in June.

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But then my beloved Juki had to go into the shop to repair a broken part, and ended up having to be mailed back to the factory when the injury proved serious.  It was gone all summer, and my Brother machine, while excellent in its way, doesn’t have the harp space or the heavy duty power to quilt easily.  So the WIP waited until summer ended and the Juki finally returned.

By this point, I really needed it to get done, if only to reclaim the pins.  I have enough projects sandwiched and ready for quilting that I was running out of the curved safety pins.  Only a small pile remained.

I auditioned a few thread colors: gray, variegated, a dark brown.  I liked the dull gold of a 50 wt. Aurifil best for tying all the fabric colors together.   I chose a fairly simple quilting, just double echoes of all the seams, so it went fast.  As you can see in the photos, the quilt is made up of 10” squares, half square triangles, and four patches of 5” squares.  Not at all fancy, but bright and rich colors that I love together.

Add a binding made of the remnants of the backing fabric after trimming and it is exactly what I wanted for keeping warm on the couch.

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Olympic gold finish

I’m awarding myself an unexpected gold medal because I did in fact finish my Knitting Olympics wrap before the extinguishing of the flame at the end of the closing ceremonies.  Of course, this was on NBC time, rather than the Korean peninsula time zone, but so was the casting on, so I’m counting it.

I owe my victory to two snow days and a late start, so thank you Canada for the cold front assist.

The blocking may have been a bit excessive – this thing stretches to the floor if I don’t double wrap it.  In some hazy future I will soak it again and reblock for width and reduced length, but for now, I’m just loving it.  I’m almost sad that spring is finally starting to show up because I won’t get to wear it for months and months.

Not sure why it then took me two weeks to get that finish posted, but life gets in the way.

I’ve moved on to another wrap, this one called Pralines.  I ripped it out three times in the early stages, twice because I didn’t like how I was managing carrying the light yarn up the edge, and the third time because I decided to change the contrast yarn altogether.  In stead of a greeny-blue yarn I dyed a while back with Olympic white left-overs , it is now the greeny-blue with a variegated lighter green.  Looks less like I’m knitting nautical wear.  If I had the brown yarn shown in the pattern, I’d have used that because I love the color combination, but I’m trying to knit from stash.

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Which, by the way, is totally my excuse for buying three new skeins of yarn at the Rose City Yarn crawl last weekend.  I needed the new yarns to go with three skeins I already had, so I could make some two color shawls I have my eye on.  can’t knit from stash if it doesn’t match!  None of my remaining sock yarns really went with each other.  So I was pretty much forced to buy more yarn, right?  (Oh, rationalization.  It makes for great shopping sprees.)

My friend Paige came down to spend the weekend, so there was much knitting and yarn shopping and making of bagels.

That last became a full family affair because the many stages of bagel making were so interesting.  Kneading and pulling, then broiling, boiling, and baking.  We had a great time, and then a fabulous bagel feast.

 

 

 

 

 

A finish, a start, and a revival

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My finish this week is my Aether shawl.  I’m sad to have finished it.  I loved the yarn, loved the pattern, loved the process.  And I suspect, if the trend continues, that I will love wearing it.

The before and after shots show the magic role blocking plays in lace knitting!  This shawl has a six foot wingspan, and that is after I skipped the final pattern repeat.

I finished it up in Seattle where I joined my fiber friends, Paige, L1 (AKA Seattle Leslie) and L2 (AKA Oregon Leslie).

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(A sample picture of the necessities for a knitting weekend. Plus wine.)

We spent most of the time hanging out with our knitting, but we did take a break at one point to drive over to Carnation, for a first time visit to Tolt Yarn and Wool.

It is a warm, friendly shop, and a sweater knitter’s dream.  So many beautiful yarn lines, worsted and woolens in a rainbow of solids and heathers.  Whole sections provided enough colors for any fair isle project.  It made my fingers inch to take up a project with lots of cables or complicated multi-color patterns.

There were less of the highly varigated or speckle dyed yarns that are the recent craze.  It fell into more classic styles in the yarn and in the samples.  It made for a very pretty shop.

So what did I buy? Yarn made of nettles. Not soft, not pretty, but it intrigued me. I think it will someday become placemats, or a table runner. They should be hard wearing and drapey after repeated washing.

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My new knitting start is another pair of socks, to become the tote bag project.  There always needs to be a portable project in my tote bag.  These will be made from another skein of Knit Picks Bare that I dyed in jars, this time in turquoise, gray, and a gray-blue.  The free pattern is called Petty Harbour, and I have knit it before.  It is a simple four row repeat, which is what on-the-go, frequently interrupted knitting needs.

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My revival is my handspun sweater that has languished in a bag in the craft closet for months.  I’m not sure why, other than it has so many different balls of yarn attached that it takes some effort and space to keep untangling them all.  The pattern is simple, the yarn wrangling is not.

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Just a simple raglan cardigan-to-be, made entirely from my handspun yarn.  It is using up a lot of the single skeins that had been piling up.

Overall, a yarn filled week.  That’s never a bad thing.  🙂