Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Winter Woe

I am not a fan of Winter.   The world is cold and gloomy, the threat of snow and ice and freezing rain looms on the horizon.  I’m doing my best to stay cheerful, but it’s hard. 

My little house decided to stage a winter protest last week. The radiators went cold, the water heater decided that lukewarm was the new hot, and the circuit breakers kept tripping.  My stress levels were pretty high, and none of my projects were making me happy.   I needed to switch gears in a major way.  So, I went looking for something new, bright, fun, and slightly challenging.     

Summer Fruit 2 – Apples  WIP
Apples is the 2nd pattern in a 4-part series titled Summer Fruit by Chatelaine Designs.  The series features Pears, Apples, Cherries, and Pineapples.  I stitched Cherries a few years ago, and it has always been my intention to eventually make them all.   To my delight, I had all but two colors in stash.   

I’m stitching on 30ct. linen fabric from Weeks Dye Works in their Cornsilk color.  The rice stitches at the top of the design call for 1 strand of Gloriana silk thread.  Well, I plowed right through with 2 strands.  After they were done, I could tell they were too plump, and that's when I realized my error.  What good are pattern instructions if you don't take the time to read them?  Oh well.  They’re staying as is for now.  If it really starts to bug me, I'll rip them out.  Can I just take a moment to swoon over Gloriana silk thread? It's so soft, the colors are beautiful, and stitching with it is a dream.  I love how the silk catches the light.  I stopped by Rittenhouse Needlework to pick up the Peacock Blue colorway that I was missing, and became entranced by their wall of Gloriana.  They carry the entire line and it's a sight to behold.  I had to force myself away.  When I hit Powerball, I'm going Gloriana crazy.  Needless to say, this little project has brought a lot of joy my way. 

Sweet Cables WIP
This sweater by Joji Locatelli is on my Make Nine list.  I’m using Madeline Tosh Farm Twist in the charcoal colorway.  So far, I’m really enjoying this project. The yarn is exquisite and I already want to make a few more sweaters with it.  I'm knitting on US 7 needles.

Storm at Sea Quilt WIP
Another project on my Make Nine list. These are the fabrics that sparked the idea for this quilt.  

It's being made to fit a King sized bed, so more fabric was necessary.  Craftsy (now called Bluprint) is usually my first stop when shopping for fabric online. There I found the Majestic Flight collection by Boundless.  Perfect for what I had in mind.  There was even a kit in the Storm at Sea motif.  Its’ final dimensions are smaller than I want to make, but together with the fabric I already have, I should be able to double the size easily. 

These fabrics are gorgeous.  The picture above simply does not do them justice. The kit came with a FQ bundle and a couple of yard cuts.  Many of them are shot through with silver.  I wasn't quite expecting that, but it's very pretty.  The Storm at Sea block is a bit more complicated that I imagined.  After laying out a few rows, I noticed that some of my corner squares are too small.  I believe the square in the very center of the block is off size.  Unfortunately, the pattern doesn't specify the exact size of that center square piece.  Rather, the instructions has you cut rectangles from a strip.  When it came time to sew, it was obvious that the rectangles should be squares.  So, I just cut them in half.  

I’m not going to sew any more of that block until I figure out exactly what's wrong.  Right now, I have little fabric pieces in marked piles all over my dining room.  I need to get moving on this quilt, if only to get my space back. 

Originally, I'd planned to make this entire quilt with repeating Storm at Sea blocks, but now I've decided to modify the design a bit.  Even within the small portion laid out above, I can see movement in the blocks, and I want to explore concept that a bit further.  

We're a few weeks into the new year and I've decided that my word to describe 2019 is Fulfillment.  Specifically, I want to focus on fulfilling my goals, tasks, lists, projects etc... .  That means I need to improve my follow-through.  I’ve invested valuable time, energy, and brainpower on projects (and people) across multiple areas in my life.  But I haven’t truly put forth effort towards getting stuff done.  Looking back, I can even see this lack of follow-through reflected in my stitch life.  I worked on a lot of projects last year, but didn’t actually finish much.  2018 ended with too many things in my life left undone and/or incomplete.  No wonder that I closed out the year feeling empty and dissatisfied.  This year will be different.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 Make Nine Challenge

This year I’m joining the Make 9 challenge.  

1.       Tavie by Meiju K-P
I’ve got a good start on Tavie, but haven’t picked it up in a few weeks.  I've got to get it back into rotation.

2.       Three Colors Sweater by Amy Gunderson
This sweater has a whole lot of colorwork and steeking.  Am I nervous?  Just a little bit.  Every time I think about cutting into my knitting I shudder.  But I saw a sample at Vogue Knitting Live a few years back and it was stunning.  I want this sweater.    

3.       Socks for me 
Because you can never have too many. 

4.       Waxed canvas bag
I saw a woman with a gorgeous handbag made from waxed canvas.  As soon as I find the right pattern, I’m planning to make myself one in red. 

5.       Majestic Flight Quilt by Laura Piland
I've been looking at storm at sea quilts on Pinterest a lot lately.  When I saw this pattern offered on Craftsy, I immediately put it in my cart.

6.       Quilt Idea
The guest bedroom needs a quilt.  I pulled fabric for it from stash, but the pattern stuck in my head wants softer colors than what I’ve picked.  This one is going to take some thought.

7.       The Aline Dress by the Avid Seamstress
My first attempt a making a dress.  Fingers crossed.

8.       Vintersol by Jennifer Steinglass
They say “third time's a charm”.  My first attempt was twisted at the join.  On the second attempt, I somehow got off count and the tree trunks ended up crooked.  I couldn't find my mistake and had to rip.   I am determined to make this sweater, so I’ll be casting it on… AGAIN.

9.       Sweet Cables by Joji Locattelli
The name is so fitting, because it is such a sweet sweater.  I love the curved hem on this one.  My goal is to have it done by late Spring/early Summer. The short sleeves will be perfect for that time of the year.

This list was easier to put together than I first thought.  With the exception of waxed canvas, I already have yarn and/or fabric for all of these projects.  Wow!

Do you have any project goals for 2019? 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cranberry Cravings

November was whirlwind of a month.  Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday with family, food and thankfulness all crammed into a day of celebration.  I haven't quite had my fill of cranberry sauce.  It’s just too good.  I bought another can this past weekend.  Project-wise I’ve been busy as well. 


These socks are so bright and fun; they just make me smile.  I used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the Lagoon colorway and Cascade Yarns Heritage Solids in White for the heel.  The Hedgehog was terribly splitty.  I didn’t enjoy knitting with it, but the saturation of color is showstopping.   These lovelies have been getting lots of foot time.

Is a sock truly finished if the ends haven’t been woven in?  The fact that I’m asking is a testament to how badly I wanted to be done with this yarn.  So far those dangling ends haven’t been a problem. 

I’m always hesitant about purchasing yarn online, particularly if I’m not already familiar with the yarn.  But I’m glad I put aside those reservations and ordered from Hazel Knits.  The colorway in the sock above is called Stick o’ Butter and the yarn base is their Artisan Sock.  It’s fantastic and I’ll be ordering more soon.  Really, they have so many colors I want to try.  It’s hard to decide.

The stripe of color partway down the leg is knit with Misti Alpaca Handpaint Sock in the Enchanted Forest colorway.  I used a seed stitch there to add some texture.  The idea of using alpaca in socks gives me pause.  This yarn is left over from a pair of socks I knit for a good friend of mine.  Considering the many yarn stores she has patiently visited with me, I couldn't deny her socks when she handed me a skein of yarn one afternoon.  It's been a little over a year and she says they are holding up well.  I have another skein in a beautiful emerald green that I may cast on for myself.  Has anyone else knit socks with alpaca?  

A Girl’s Best Friend Shawl  WIP
In my last post, I was wavering between shawl patterns.  I decided on A Girl's Best Friend by Isabell Kramer.  From the small picture on the pattern printout, you can’t really tell that there is texture in the main color section, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it knitting up.

The colors I’m using are Knerd String 4-ply Fingering in the Tainted Love colorway, JulieSpins Glimmer in the Haystack colorway, and Into the Whirled Pakokkou Sock in the Pomegranate Blossom colorway.  My main color, Tainted Love, is a muted red that pairs well with the sparkle in Haystack and the bright gold in Blossom.  I'm knitting this up on US 4 needles and thus far, it has been a very satisfying knit. 

Take Flight Quilt  FINISHED

Finished dimensions are 69” x 73”.  I used fabrics bought from Craftsy and my local Joann Fabric. The pattern came from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I love their videos.  

I’d like to take a moment to talk about quilt batting.  When it comes to batting, I’ve always bought what’s on sale.  My focus was on the piecing and I didn’t give much thought to batting; as long as it was cotton, I was satisfied.  

Well, those days are over.  When I unrolled this batting, it was thinner than what I expected.  When I compared it to leftover batting, I could see that it was noticeably different; less substantial somehow.  Now that it’s finished, I can honestly say that it feels different than the other quilts I have in the house.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what brand of batting I purchased.  This means that I don’t know what to not to buy next time. Going forward I’ll be keeping detailed notes on my quilting projects.  Has anyone else found a big difference in batting quality?  If you have a favorite batting, I’d love to hear about it.

Project Bags  FINISHED
When I saw this fabric, I immediately knew I wanted to make a project bag. 

I love it.  Of course, now I want to make myself more bags to hold all kinds of stuff.  The tote bag below is high up on my list of favorite things right now.  

I might sew up a few more to give as gifts this year.  That thought has sent me diving into my fabric stash and coming up wide-eyed.  There is fabric in those bins that I had completely forgotten about!  I set a few pieces aside for bags, but I also got some inspiration for another quilt.

Right now, I have about 3 yards total of fabric in the above color scheme.  My aim is to make a queen size quilt, so I'll need a bit more than what I currently have on hand.  Nevertheless, it's a good start.

I’m taking a hard stance when it comes to stash acquisition in 2019.   Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no problem stashing (obviously), and I have no plans to stop buying yarn.  But I want my stash to turn over regularly.  I’m trying to avoid having a stash full of yarn “too special” to knit or  "never quite right” for a project.  I need to put the yarn and fabric I buy to good use.  In short:  I’ve got to work the stash.  Lately, I’ve been looking at skeins that have been hanging out with me for years and thinking about how to incorporate them into new projects.  Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Swirls and Cables

Take Flight WIP
Working free-motion on this quilt was unbelievably satisfying.  

I experimented with several motifs and found my groove with swirls.  Being worried about messing up the entire thing, I choose white thread on white background fabric.  In retrospect, I wish I’d been more confident about my quilting and chose either a cream or ecru colored thread, instead.  Not too much of a contrast, but just enough to make the quilting slightly more noticeable. 

I echoed around the sides of my flying geese triangles using my walking foot because, making straight lines in free-motion was not going so well.   Initially, I’d planned to quilt within the triangles too, but decided the quilt top didn’t need anything else.

I broke up the swirls by randomly quilting wishbones in some of the blocks.  All in all, I am very pleased with how it turned out. 

Still have the borders to quilt. 

Tavie  WIP
Tavie by Meiju K-P  is a beautiful cabled cardigan.  The yarn is Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio Worsted in the Old Towne East colorway.  It falls somewhere between teal and royal blue with highlights of navy.  My pictures are simply not doing this color justice.  It is swoon worthy.  I like everything about this yarn.  The color is gorgeous, the yarn feels great in my hand and it knits up like a dream.

Tavie has a saddle sleeve construction, which is new to me.  It’s a little fiddly, but I’m confident that I worked it right.  And I can certainly see the benefit in having that extra bit of structure at the shoulder seam.  The pattern instructions are very clear and the charts are easy to follow.  I’m aiming for extra room in the finished product, so I’m knitting the XL.  Because it requires lots of concentration and switching between charts, Tavie is not conducive to carrying around.  This means I'm not working on it as much as I'd like.  Nevertheless, I am totally smitten with this project.  I can hardly wait to wear it.

I’ve been itching to cast on a new shawl.  The two that have really caught my attention are A Girl's Best Friend by Isabella Kramer and Thielenbruch by Assel Knits.  I’ve been pulling out skeins of yarn, playing with color combinations and doing a lot of “fantasy” knitting in my head.  But I’m resolved to finishing all socks currently on the needles before starting another project.  Restraint is hard.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Knit, Tink, Rip

Lately, I feel like I’ve spent more time ripping yarn out than actual knitting with it.

RIP Loop

I cast on the Loop shawl and made it about halfway through with more frustration than enthusiasm.  The colors I’ve chosen are lovely together, the pattern is well written, and I like how the shawl looks knitted up.  Unfortunately, I don’t like knitting it.  Last week I pulled Loop out again and thought long and hard about why I wasn’t enjoying the knit.  From early on, I disliked the look of the yo’s forming at the edges.  These holes combined with carrying the yarn up the side of the shawl, look messy.  At the time I considered starting over and working a different type of increase.  But I convinced myself that it would turn out just fine, and I kept knitting.  Well, my edges are not fine, and it bugs me. 

A few months ago, I switched to a pointier needle to make knitting the “loop” rows easier.  The loop stitch involves k3TBL and each stitch is a struggle, even with the prior row knit more loosely.  I love the way that row looks, but I hate having to work it.  After only 2 rows with the new needle, I put the shawl away again.

Although I like my color combination, neither of these two colors (dusty silvery purple and muted rainbow) are in my usual color wheelhouse.  This has severely impacted my desire to see it finished.   Sure, the colors are pretty, but I don’t think they’re “oh my gosh” gorgeous.  A skein of yarn means that I’m going to spend hours not just knitting with it, but also looking at it.  If I’m not enjoying the yarn, I’m not enjoying the knit. 

Which brings me to the final reason this shawl is not working for me.   My main color is a single-ply yarn.  I know that singles are all the rage right now, but I don’t like knitting with them.  I’ve knit with them before, and considering it’s pretty much everywhere these days, I probably will again, but I’m not a fan.  Perhaps if this yarn was in a color I adored, I would power through my other issues and it wouldn’t be so bad.  But as it stands, I made the decision to rip this shawl.  My knitting time is just too precious to spend on projects that do not bring me joy.

Vintersol WIP

I was making beautiful progress on my Vintersol Sweater, only to realize that the trunks of the trees in my yoke were looking off-centered.  Somehow, somewhere, I had messed up.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out where the mistake was, but I knew it was several rows back.  Just thinking about undoing 5 rows comprised of 310 stitches/row made my head hurt.  But I did it.  

With so much trouble in Knit Land, I put down my needles and pulled out my sewing machine. 

Take Flight Quilt WIP

My quilt top is finished, my layers are all basted.   I ran out of white thread and and had to make a quick run.  The fantastic ladies at Stitch Central got me sorted with coordinating color threads as well.

I had practically no plan of how I wanted to quilt it, but I knew it would involve free-motion quilting.  With so much plain, white space, I figured now would be a good time to put some of my free-motion practice to real use.  I pulled out my books, brushed up on some of my favorite FMQ how-to videos, and got to quilting.  I still don’t have a real plan; just randomly working different motifs in the open spaces.  Not quite finished, but I’m very pleased with what I’ve done so far.
Recently someone asked me how I could spend so much of my free time making stuff.  She doesn’t understand why I do this.  I gave her the standard “satisfaction of knowing that I have created a thing” type of answer.  But really it goes so much deeper than that.  With every project I start, I gain something.  Sometimes it’s a new technique, skill, or a better way of doing something.  Very often it’s insight into my own creative process; what I like and don’t like, what I want and don’t want; what works for me and what doesn’t work.  And every now and again it’s the courage to scrap an entire thing and start over (or not!) and being okay with that decision.  With each success and with each fail, I gain confidence in my choices, in my own skills, and in my knowing. That confidence, in turn, makes me better at the next project.  In making, I’m also learning and growing, and it feels fantastic.  That is the reason why I do this.

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Joy of Knitting

Hello Friends!

I’m at a place where I want to knit ALL THE THINGS.  So many patterns calling out to me, so many beauties just waiting to be knit.   Luckily, my stash is not very large, so the urge to cast on has been forcibly contained.

I’m not quite sure where the summer went, but September is here.  NY Sheep & Wool is happening a month from now and I have no Rhinebeck sweater.  But I’ve got a plan.

by Jennifer Steingass

Back in June, I made a pretty good start on Vintersol before noticing that there was an error in my colorwork.  I couldn’t figure out how to correct and had to rip back.  But since I didn’t really one of my colorwork choices, I didn’t mind the frogging.  And so, the yarn sat.  Until this weekend when I started thinking about Rhinebeck.  My version is being knit with Malabrigo Rios in Cerveza and Pearl Ten, and I decided to use O-Wool O-Wash Worsted in Barn Owl instead of my original choice of Malabrigo’s Pearl for the yoke background.  I’m much more at peace with these colors. 

That yellow yarn is part of a provisional cast on.  Vintersol has shaping at the back of the neck, so I brushed up on short row techniques before settling in with shadow wraps.  I like them a lot and it had me thinking about using short rows in sock heels.  I cast on a pair. 

Does anyone else get bored with K2P2 ribbing?  It’s so tedious and it takes forever to get through.  The yarn is by Into The Whirled on their Pakokku Sock base in the Irohamomiji colorway.  These colors are the embodiment of fall and when I cast on, I ran into a problem right away.  The yarn blended with my sock needles so well, that I could barely see the stitches on the needles.  My favorite needles for socks are Knit Picks Rainbow DPNs. But they just wouldn’t work with this yarn.  So, I ordered a set of DPNs in the Caspian colorway.  I get such a thrill when everything in my knitting world comes together. 

The pattern is the Hermione’s Everyday Sock pattern by Erica Lueder.  It’s a fantastic pattern that I’ve knit a few times before.  I did try a shadow wrap short row heel on this one.  I like the look of the heel and I’ll report back on the fit once I’ve worn them a few times.  I really need to get that second sock cast on.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

That Finished Feeling

Hello Friends,

I've been quite busy since my last update.  Most of my time has been taken up with work and travel.  I spent two weeks in Cincinnati, OH.  Unfortunately, my schedule was pretty intense and I didn't get to visit any yarn shops.  But I took my sweater with me and managed to get it finished.  Don't you just love that finished feeling; that moment when you've bound off and just exhale.

Finally got it home and into a Soak bath.  This sweater has been all over the world and it needs a good washing.  The yarn is superwash, so it could have endured a run in the washing machine, but I do so love the smell of Soak.  My favorite scent is Lacey.

Superwash yarns tend to grow when blocked.  After washing, the sweater grazed the top of my knees.  20 minutes in the dryer on low brought it back to a reasonable size, but still damp enough to block out a bit. I'm hoping to get the split hem to lay straighter.  Fingers crossed.

I really like the ribbing.

And this is what it looks like.  Not the most exciting thing I've knit, but it'll do.

I knit part of one sleeve in the contrast color.  I also knit an extra round of ribbing on the sleeves and sweater bottom.  The pattern calls for an i-cord loop at the pocket, which hooks onto a button.  Well, I didn't have a button in the hotel, and since I really wanted to be done with this sweater, I omitted the cord.

New to me in this project:
O-Wool Yarn.  I enjoyed this yarn very much.
Split hem.  Not a fan;  my hips are too wide and I don't think the split hem is flattering on me.
Pockets.  Knitting a pocket was fairly easy.  I knit a stockinette flap for a few inches (pocket lining) using the stitches I had previously placed on a holder.  Then I tucked the flap inside the sweater and used a whip stitch to attach the lining to the sweater itself.  There are also videos on Youtube that discuss afterthought pockets and knitting pockets on an angle.  I'm looking forward to trying both of these techniques. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Stitching!