Monday, April 28, 2008

Plodding on

Sometimes, when it seems there is nothing new to report, it is hard to write an entry. I'm still working away on the two projects I have, feeling as if there is no end in sight.
First there is Mr Panda--Actually it will probably end up being a girl panda because all of the stuffed animals in our house are girls. The pattern is From Fiona McTague's Knitted toys. It was listed as skill level 3, which frightened me a bit, but now I think it is just because it has a bit of colorwork and has 11 pieces to sew together. The colorwork part went fine, I think I only have one hole to deal with (yay me). I have the front, back, both legs, both soles and one arm done.
panda bits
I feel like I will never get all the pieces done. But even when I do, I need to get he pig all knitted before I can sew it together and stuff--because I can't present a finished panda without having a finished pig, jealousy you know.

In kind of a race, is my ice queen. I knew when I started it, that it would be too warm to wear it by the time I finished, and sure enough temps reached the high 70s last week. They've dipped into a more normal 50s, but I'm still not counting on actually wearing it until next fall. Now, I love how this is turning out, but...
I think working with the yarn is like working with lint
I think it is taking FORever
I wish it had more beads
I think I will never be done.
I'm scared of the parts coming up which I have never done.
ice queen
It is pretty, but I have something like 20-30 more rows, then the bind off, which is a bind off I've never done before. Then I have to unravel the temporary cast on, get everything on the needles and bind off that side.
All that complaining aside--I think I want one in purple. Also raspberry and black.

Friday, April 25, 2008

dreaming about yarn

I feel like I'm so far behind, because between the baby quilt (although I have to say that it is a really good thing I got that baby quilt done, because my co-worker welcomed her new baby yesterday, and I probably won't see her until August.) and all the great weather we're havng in Michigan, I haven't had time to write about some fantastic things.
First, I went to the knit night at my sort of Local Yarn shop (Apple Valley Yarns in Freeland, MI--FAB shop). I wore my green hoodie (despite the 70 degree weather!) and got a ton of compliments. I also had to try really really hard not to take home enough wool bam boo to make another one. Seriously, I love yarn so much that a night at a shop like that can give me things to think about for DAYS afterwards.
I have such a yarn imagination (actually I have a pretty good imagination in general but yarn--we're talking about yarn), I spend all this time thinking and imagining what I will knit next.
I know I want to make another hoodie. Then I remember I have all this cotton classic I wanted to make into a Tangerine Twist--except mine would be blue. I also want to make a pair of yoga socks (but that would be my own pattern figureing). And then I realize I have gobs of sock yarn that I really want to make into actual socks. Which of course leads to the stash and well let's just say this is how I put myself to sleep at night--dreaming of all the yarns and wonderful things to knit with them.

And then, Oh if there ever was a contest I so much want to win, it would have to be the one thrown by knitty. I love knitty, I've made several things from there (in fact am making Ice queen right now--well not this minute, because I am typing...). Well, Amy Singer announced the other day that knitty is having a contest and I about hyperventilated when I saw the prizes. Seriously, I don't think I've ever wanted to win something as badly as I want to win this. Not even the $500 shopping spree to your LYS that Knitting Daily gave away.
I know I won't win. I'm preparing myself to not win. But oh how I want to (I'm entered too). I'm even prepared to say that I'll share the goodies if I win--I'll have contests of my own. (although at this point, if I won I could probably give something away to everyone reading this now because there just aren't that many of you). I toyed with the idea of not saying anything, lest some person I influenced to sign up for knitty's newsletter should win. But I'll just have to trust that if you saw this, entered and YOU win, instead of me, that you'll be kind and share.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

baby quit #2

Finally, I've finished quilt number two. This was a baby quilt for my co-worker's third baby. I had all these pre-cut 4 inch squares that I had been gifted by one of my husband's aunts. So, initially the plan was to just sew all these four inch blocks together. But it didn't look very visually appealing. Plus, I had 198 of them and I figured I'd need another 100 to make it work. So instead, I decided to alternate them with a four-patch block.
I used scraps for those. I also had to use math! Well, I'm not a math phobic, in fact I loved math in high school, but this was more geometry which I was never good at. I had to figure out what size strips to cut to end up with a 4 inch four patch. If you were drawing you'd say--well 2 two inch blocks makes a four inch block, but I was sewing ans so had to have a .25 inch seam allowance--on two sides. So actually--I cut 2.5 inch strips and sewed them together, cut 2.5 inch strips of that and sewed those together. I think. see this is why I need to journal more--I've forgotten, but I think this is right. If not well then i cut 2.25. See I am a disaster and not just with yarn!
I used scraps from a previous quilt's backing for the borders. I had picked out a different border originally, but it just didn't go right. I even used leftover thread to quilt with--in part because I didn't have enough of one color
It seems to me that this is really the quilting heritage--use up what you have, make do with what you have. And both of these were so true with this quilt. I think it turned out pretty good.
baby Quilt
My next sewing step is to clean out the sewing room so I can actually find stuff.
sewing room

I promise i'll start talking knitting again soon.

Monday, April 14, 2008


This is going to be a kind of a busy week in which I really need to buckle down and finish that baby quilt, and so blog posts might be sparse until it is done. But ehre is the picture I promised, of me in my green hoodie. My husband said it looked like something I'd bought!
green hoodie

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green Hooded Sweater

Finally knitting again.
Although to me it feels a bit funny to think about having a finished object to write about
this week because I've spent less time knitting this week than I think I have in months. I missed knit night, I went to bed early Wednesday (I have a cold) and I hardly knit at all on Tuesdays.
And yet, somehow in this I managed to finish a sweater. Of course I didn't quilt like I was supposed to on Tuesday because I was busy kitchnering the hood, but whatever.
The pattern is Neck down hooded tunic from Knitting pure and simple. I made it using Elle Aran Gold, which is an acrylic, but doesn't feel like one. I made one of my daughters a sweater from this and found it to be a bit slippery after it was woven in. So I wove in my ends really tightly.

When I swatched for this project I made sure to swatch as if I was knitting in the round--from directions I found somewhere (sorry I should have noted it down, I am so not good about this). Then I threw the swatch in with the delicate cycle. I should have measured before I threw it in, because now I'm hoping that the sweater grows a tiny bit after I wash it*. But also at the same time I am afraid to was it because my swatch unravelled in the gentle cyle! Well just a bit on the ends, but I don't want that on the real thing. And I can't recall if I have washed the other sweater I made from this yarn. So while, I need to wash this and have it expand a tiny bit (really 1/2 inch), I'm scared to wash it.

Because I'm done with this sweater, I should start on the stuffed toys I promised my daughters. I'd like to finish ice queen soon though. However, I'm finding mohair is a bit tedious to work with. Not hard, but it takes some watching so you don't accidently knit with the fuzz (not that I ever have *cough cough*) instead of the string. So perhaps the Panda--even with it's color changes--would make a good mohair distraction.

*I should say that really it fits. It fits with very little ease though and I'm not sure it will be all that comfortable over a t-shirt which is what I wanted it for. But then, to make the next size up would mean about 3 inches of ease, and I thought that might be too much. Plus, I think I was tickled to be making the size called "small." Now I'm thinking I should have made the medium anyway.

Pictures to come later.

Monday, April 07, 2008

basting quilt #2

You know, for a knit blogger I certainly talk a lot about quilting! Don't worry, it is a phase, and as soon as I finish baby quilt number 2, I'm done until the next person tells me there is a baby on the way.
Today, I "pinned" baby quilt number 2 and so I thought I might spend this entry explaining that process.

Pinning is actually how I baste my quilt layers. You see anything that can be called a quilt is actually a set of layers that are sewn together (either by hand or machine). You can also tie quilts, which is just another way of holding them together--with ties that are sewn through the layers. I usually machine quilt my baby quilts. I've done hand quilting, enough to know that I prefer hand quilting whole cloth, because I have trouble keeping my stitches even over seams. Anyway, in order to keep those layers together when you are sewing you have to somehow baste them.

For my baby quilts, I use three layers: The top, batting, and a piece of fabric for the back. You don't have to use three layers, some backings are thick enough that you'd want to only have two (I'm thinking of the Minkee backed quilts my mother in law made for my girls). Sometimes the top is thick enough that batting would make it impossible to quilt--Like in the case of the denim quilt I want to make someday.

In today's quilt, I've used a piece of leftover fabric for the back (most of the time, I buy fabric on sale for this purpose). In other quilts I've done all kinds of things like used fabric that I meant to use in the top, but didn't get used, bought sale fabric especially for the quilt, or just bought something really on sale (like 50% off). I have even made a double sided quilt (for my husband's college roommate's first child because my husband and I couldn't agree on a color scheme--so I made both).
Usually, I use Warm and Natural batting. I like the way it feels and how it quilts. But today I used a batting called--a touch of cashmere that Karen mailed me a while back, when I was complaining about how I was broke and wasn't buying ANY more fabric or yarn. But oh sigh I had quilts to make. It was a really great package--it had yarn in it too!

Some people baste their layers together with needle and thread and do really long basting stitches. Others, use this gizmo quilting places sell that put plastic tags in your quilts. I use safety pins. I use safety pins because that's how my mother in law does it and she taught me to quilt. Of course she taught me using an old table that she expands out to fit her quilts. She also uses binder clips to hold the backing to the table. I use the kitchen floor and tape. Seriously--this is really about using what you have.

I spread the backing fabric face down (ok there have been times I've forgotten this!) and I tape it slightly stretched and very smooth to the floor with painter's tape. Then I lay the batting over it and smooth it out and then the top. After I have it very smooth, I start in the center and pin all the layers together with safety pins. This all sounds really easy, but many a time, I've had to reposition everything to get everything just right (and don't get me started about the double quilt--I've blocked that basting out of my memory even though I had major help with it).
I always feel like I use too many pins, but I aim for about 3-4 inches apart. While, I'm on the floor, I also clip any loose threads. As I quilt, I'll remove the pins. I try to store my safety pins open in a food storage box. Yes, I prick my fingers when I'm pinning sometimes, but I don't have to close, then open every pin.

Probably the only disadvantage to basting this way--for me--is the fact that I'm all bent over for the majority of the time I'm pinning. I try to think of it as an additional yoga workout and try to breathe deeply and stretch my legs in different ways.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


So what does a crafty blogger blog about when there are no finished objects? Well about her Knitting style, of course.

Seriously, I thought I might take a moment and address one of the questions I always want to ask of people who knit (or sew); When do you knit?
I don't mean it in the "oh my whenever do you have the time?" Although that has been asked of me about various pursuits in my life--including my knitting. No, I wonder just sort of generally when people knit. I guess I've often wondered, because I have a friend who admitted to me once, that she did know how to knit, but only knit on long car trips. I've noticed that other people have the ability to knit off and on throughout the day. On ravelry, I hear people talking about knitting at work (on breaks I presume).

I knit primarily in front of the tv. I also knit in the car, but not exclusively. I've tried knitting throughout the day but I have a hard time putting it down to do other things. But the only time I've ever felt like I could knit at work was when I worked at a yarn shop. I really like knitting at the knitting club I go to. However, the knitting group is worse than tv for distracting me!

Sewing is different for me. I usually only make time to sew when I have something I "need" to make. What this means is that I usually only sew when I have a baby quilt to make or a halloween costume. Despite havign several quilting projects I wanted to do for myself AND some PJs that I need to make. It seems that if I don't have a deadline, I don't make the time to do it. Also, while I knit every day, I only sew on Tuesdays and a little on the weekends. In part this is because I can't sew throughout the day--gotta wrangle those kids! And also because sewing isn't as portable as knitting. Plus, I gotta say--sewing is louder.

So there you go--when I knit (and sew). What questions do you usually find yourself askign of knitters (either in your head or outright)? Ask me in a comment, and I'll answer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

baby quilt number 1--done

On the day before Easter, after learning that my former college roommate had had her April 1st baby (a bit early--but everyone is fine) I hurried up and stitched down the last of the binding:
almost done

(Someday, I'll have to explain my binding theories)

Just so I could get one quilt, one pig, and one snake into a box and mail the box before the post office closed. (I wish I had photographed the box--it was funny)
I wanted to write about the quilt, a snails trail done in leftover fabrics, on Thursday but did not want to ruin any surprises. I've now seen pictures of the baby on the quilt and so I can show it off to you:
I decided on snails trail because my former roomie studies snails--she has the big phd in biology and everything. I've made her four quilts now (a wedding and three baby) and have wanted to do Snail's trail since the first. I've always lacked the focus or whatever, to actually sit down and figure out how big to cut the triangles and such. Recently I found a pattern that had the sizes, and I had the energy to work up how it would work with the colors I wanted to use. Sadly, I used up most of my brainpower on that and so my first sewing had some major goofs:

So there was much ripping in this project! I just hadn't been paying attention, assuming I guess that there was only one way to sew these pieces together--well I'm here to tell you that if you do this--You'll get 1/4 of them correct, and you'll have to completely rip out 1/4 of them. The other half will need some things, but not all ripped.
Probably the only other thing I feel like I need to mention about this project is--In every baby quilt I make, I quilt a heart into the design. Usually I do this when I free-motion quilt the borders (although I have been known to sneak in a free-motion heart in quilts with geometric quilting too). I really liked how this one turned out. I also did a snail in one corner.
heart a snail

One baby quilt done--One to go!