Tidying up odds and ends

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I went through my project drawers and bins this week and pulled out a lot of knitting projects that were finished, but not yet absolutely finished.  It is a continuum!

They all were fully knit (knitted?) but still had ends to be sewn in or needed to be blocked,

These cowls just needed the ends sewn in.  They are my brioche and eureka cowls.

 

Blocking is sort of an issue since we redid the floors.  I can’t pin quilts or block knitting without worrying about scratching the floors.  It leaves only the rec room for blocking – not a safe place due to all the kids-jumping-during-video-gaming going on, and our bedroom.  The still carpeted bedroom works if the cat doesn’t get too interested, but the largest floor space is between my side of the bed and the closet.  If I forget that something is pinned there, I step directly onto the pins and wires when I get out of bed in the morning.

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But we must suffer a little pain for gorgeous hand knits, right?

The red crescent shawl is the Puaka Shawlette, and the gray zig-zag wrap is Volt.

And I have a lot more to wear now after all this tidying up – two cowls and two shawls added to the quite-full-already drawers of wearable knitting.

 

 

We interrupt the silence to bring you a smidgeon of crafting news

Life has gotten a bit crazy lately.  We’ve spent a lot of our non-working/sleeping time house hunting, and now we are in the throes of house buying, with all the paper gathering and emails and phone calls that entails.  In the meantime, the kids still needed to eat and have clean clothes and get to track and Cub scouts and who knows what.  Some balls have been dropped, and getting anything crafty done has been one of those balls.

But I did abandon my responsibilities last weekend for another trip to join my fibery friends.  We rented a place through AirBnB and raced off through the rain storms to catch the ferry to Anderson Island for the weekend.

 

There was a lot of spinning on my part.  I finished the blue two ply yarn in the pic below, and filled another bobbin with the third single I needed to make another yarn.  I also worked on the I-cord edging on my Volt wrap.

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There was also a lot of learning.  Paige taught us all how to do two color brioche knitting, and Leslie 2 was quick enough at it to knit a shoulder wrap/cowl thing.

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We also learned it takes a great deal of junk food (and pineapple cider) to fuel so much creative effort.

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It was hard to leave and go back to the real world.  But we had a satisfying pile of progress to show for it.

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Scrappy stars finished

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My children claim that staring too long at this quilt makes their eyes burn, but my boys are prone to hyperbole.

I like the overly bright and busy look of it, though I do agree that the eyes occasionally might need a break, so the back is calmer.

So many little 2 1/2″ squares went into this quilt!  When I look at them I see so many of my earlier quilts represented in the scraps.

I free-motion quilted loops all over the background, trying to get in close between each point of the stars but leaving them unquilted so they’d be more prominent.  Some of my loops are rather wobbly, but I just remind myself that perfection isn’t a requirement, improvement is.

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I figured with a quilt this bright there was no point being subtle with the quilting, so I used a rainbow thread for the top, though I stuck to cream for the backing. (The photo makes it look Christmasy, but what looks green was really blue.)

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I had some trouble with the stitches, with long skips that were driving me crazy and causing a lot of picking out.  I had to keep marking them with pins to come back to later. Eventually I realized it was a needle problem, not just my rusty free-motion skills. I changed the needle and it stopped happening.  You can see one of the long unsecured threads in the picture below.  I don’t understand why a dull needle leads to skips, but I’m glad that the fix is easy.

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There are several ways to machine bind a quilt.  My preferred method is to sew the binding to the back, iron it flat and then fold it over and iron it down again, securing it for sewing with wonder clips.  (I am so on the wonder clip bandwagon – so much less pain than when I used straight pins and stuck myself all the time!)

I like this way because I can do a better job of catching the binding if I can see the edge I’m sewing down rather than trying to catch it on the back while stitching in the ditch on the front.  It does show more on the front, and it leaves a sewn line a little out from the binding edge on the back, but I don’t mind either of those.  In the two pictures below you can see the binding going under the walking foot and what it looks like as it comes out the other side.

On the back it looks like this:

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This is a photo of the crinkly version out of the dryer – you can see the straight line of the stitching that results from top stitching the binding on the front.  I need to work on getting the stitching closer to the edge – I’ve been using the side of my presser foot as my sewing guide, but it makes the binding a little wider on the front than in the back.  Having the two more even would move the stitching closer to the edge of the binding on the back.  Really though, it blends to be pretty unnoticeable.

The finished twin sized quilt out of the dryer:

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The puffy spots on the back where the unquilted stars are stand out the most in the blue section. (The color in the photo above is more accurate.)

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I think I need to make another one, only with a low volume background and dark colors for the stars next time.  There are certainly a lot of scraps left in my bins.

This is the second quilt finished in the last couple weeks.  My goal is two more finished before the end of the year.  That would mean all my finished tops were completed quilts, making a big dent in the WIP pile.

Saga of the Christmas wedding blanket

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The centerpiece of our recently completed finishing weekend was Seattle Leslie’s blanket.

Or rather, her sister-in-law’s partial blanket.  Intended as a wedding present for a son, it was handed to Leslie as a pile of red, green and cream rectangles after Leslie made the strategic error of saying she’d finish it up when her sister-in-law hit a time crunch.

So Seattle Leslie’s big goal for the weekend was to get all those squares sewn together.  And hey, Portland Leslie and Paige like (don’t hate) seaming.  So while I spun and embroidered, the three of them sewed many rectangles together.  Some of those rectangles were rather rough, and the sizes were more “identical” than identical, but they plowed through, and the blanket grew.

So did the doubts about the back and edges.  They just did not look good, and no one was happy about it as an intended-to-be-cherished wedding gift.

Which is when we came up with the idea to add a fabric backing, to treat it as a quilt and hide all those uneven edges and knots and yarn ends in the middle of a yarn and flannel sandwich.

Leslie and I hit the nearest fabric store Saturday evening, where I promptly freaked out at the thought of paying $15 a yard for flannel – it isn’t woven with real gold thread! it’s freaking flannel! – and dragged her to JoAnn’s where the magic of sales and phone coupons turned the $75 price for backing at the first store into $18.

And it was a lovely soft and cuddly flannel after its trip through the washer and dryer for pre-shrinking.

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We seamed to get a wide enough piece, then spread it out on the floor for pinning and folding.  We cut it about two inches wider all around, then folded in the fabric edge and folded that over the blanket edge.

I zig-zag stitched all around to anchor the binding, and we all took turns knotting yarn through the intersections of knit rectangles to finish it off.

Leslie was so happy to have it done and without having to crochet edges or worry about the back.  We were all pretty happy with the finished blanket, and I am pretty sure I’m going to make one of my own someday.

 

 

Finishing weekend 2

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I just spent wonderful weekend in Seattle with my fiber friends.  It was the second finishing weekend of the year, a time when we dig out WIPs that have been languishing and dig in to get them done, along with a lot of catching up and some fabulous food.

Finding knitting projects was a little difficult for me as the last finishing weekend took care of most of mine that needed just a bit of seaming or ends sewn in.  Plus I frogged so many of my knitting WIPs.  Quilting WIPs weren’t going to work as I didn’t want to haul my machine and all the necessary bulky quilting supplies.

But I did have my blue sweater that just needed one sleeve sewn on, and my Volt wrap.  And there were some embroidery projects to sort through for possible finishing contenders, and spinning fiber in progress.  So in the end I had plenty to do.  Enough that it took several trips to get all the bags and bundles out to the car.

It was such a great time!  So much laughing and helping and exchanging projects and sharing ideas and accomplishments.  Portland Leslie likes to seam, and Seattle Leslie and I needed a lot of that.  Paige loves to sew in ends (so weird!  so handy!) and I was useful with machine binding.

Have you heard of Slow TV?  I hadn’t – apparently on Netflix there are hours and hours of Norwegian television that takes a topic and sticks with it through every possible second.  There are eleven hour celebratory hours of a boat traveling a Norwegian canal.  Eight hours of knitting talk. An entire multi-hour train trip captured on film.  And our personal favorite for weekend viewing, five or six hours about wood chopping.

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Everything about wood chopping.  How to stack, how to chop – and all the possible variations of both.  Wood deliveries, wood tool, music with chopped wood, contents on wood stacking, how to cut a piece of wood so that it is a burner for tea and a stool.  The apparently bitter controversy over bark up or bark down in the wood pile.  It was both tedious and mesmerizing.  And all in Norwegian and subtitles!  We had it on for hours, and yes, I’m aware of how crazy that sounds.

Another highlight was the tour of Seattle Leslie’s fiber stash.  It is impressive!  Walls of IKEA bins full of spinning fiber, and more cases and boxes and bins of the yarn she has gathered since the days when she worked at a yarn store and was paid in yarn.  We treated it with the respect normally given to museum visits.

We ate, and drank gallons of tea, and laughed, and got so much done.

I finished my embroidered undersea scene that I started in a class I took a couple of years ago.

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I also got the last four oz. of my Ashland Bay merino spun and plied both bobbins into finished skeins just needing their bath.

My Volt wrap is just two rows away from needing the attached i-cord edging, and my blue sweater has its last sleeve attached. Just needs a zipper now.

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Everyone walked away with a lot they could cross off the WIP lists.  The photographic evidence of all we accomplished:

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That blanket at the bottom was a major team effort and is going to get a blog post all of its own very soon.

We are already planning the next get together.  There is talk of an AirBnB in Olympia in the new year.  Can’t wait!

Petty Harbour Socks finished

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I had just the toes on each sock left to do when we got home from our mini road trip up the Columbia Gorge, and I finished those this morning.

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The pattern is Petty Harbour, with a type of broken rib stitch. They took me about a month to knit, but that was pretty scattered knitting. It is a very simple, fast pattern.

The yarn is Malabrigo sock, Zarzamora colorway. I used about 3/4ths of a skein, so around 330 yards.

I had to Kitchner the first sock’s toe twice – I lose the rhythm if anyone talks to me, which leaves holes.  For the second sock, I threatened all within striking range so I could do it without interruption. (Yeah, I’m a lot of fun to have around.)

Perfect fit, cushy, comfy yarn – and now it is time to hunt down another pattern to cast on.

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WIPs

My commitment for March is to work on long neglected projects – no new starts!  Some are old enough that I don’t remember they exist, so I dug through the closet to find what I could list.

In the to-be-done pile:

scrapitudeScrap-in-a-box quilt top – needs trimming, pinning and quilting

imageFloral diamonds quilt top- needs pinning and quilting

imagePurple floral quilt top – needs quilting

imageScrappy stars quilt top – needs pinning and quilting

imageStrings blocks table runner – need more blocks

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Red and white quilt blocks – need more blocks

Oceans QAL - Manta ray - finished blockOceans quilt blocks – need to finish the message-in-a-bottle quilt block and make the rest

imageSnowflake quilt block – finish paper piecing and sew into pillow

Then there are various orphan blocks that need to be turned into something.

Those are just the quilting projects (that I found – more may be lurking).  Knitting, embroidery, crochet and spinning will need their own long lists and finishing months.  Wow.  I’m really much more of a starter than a finisher!  I knew this, but writing it all down has made me realize that I really need to become more of a finisher.

I am working on it.  I finished the Night Sky quilt this month, and I’ve started quilting the purple floral.  I finished my spring mini-quilt yesterday.  And this morning I trimmed off the excessively wide border on the square-in-a-box quilt to make it more proportional.

This coming week I’m going to try to get over to my sister’s classroom so I can pin a couple of quilt tops.  There just isn’t enough room or suitable floors around here which is part of why they sit neglected.  I also like making blocks more than quilting which doesn’t help.