Friday, July 31, 2015

First Item from my Handspun Yarn

I had spun 2 ounces of Blue Face Leicester, some of the fibre I got in a kit at Christmas. I showed it to you at this stage:

but it looks like I didn't get a picture of it after I wound it into a cake. Too bad because it was really cute and fuzzy. But maybe that's like a mother calling her baby cute. Of course she thinks so.

Anyway, I ended up with about 140 yards of yarn with a fairly even thickness. I was thinking it would make a nice swatch of a traditional lace. Maybe a miniature Shetland lace piece.

When I noticed the fair had a category (yes, one category) for something made from handspun, I became motivated to find any pattern that I liked that would work. I finally settled on a simple lace tam. (Etoile Hat by Linda Irving-Bell.)

I got a start on it before my road trip last week because I was counting on some knitting time in the car. (At first I wasn't going to bring it because we were going to be camping, but then I realized I could keep it in the car. Problem solved.)

I knit away happily on my tam in between naps. It wasn't until I finished the patterned part and started on the ribbed band that I noticed something was wrong:
Somehow, right from the start, I had done nine repeats instead of eight! (Yup, count the points; there are nine of them.) At first I thought maybe it would be ok because some people on Ravelry said the hat was too small and my yarn was a little thinner than the yarn called for and I was using a size smaller needle. I had a lot of good-sounding justifications going on in my head, but the hat was just way too big. There was one problem it did solve however--I was wondering if I would have enough yarn. Now I knew if I had enough for nine repeats around, I would have plenty for a hat with eight repeats!

I put it away at that point because I couldn't stomach the thought of pulling it out. I was also worried about the yarn. It was pretty fuzzy (which makes it stick to itself) and I had made it (therefore I was always suspicious of its durability).

A day or two later while sitting around the camp, I realized that it was "find out the truth" time and I had to try frogging it. I pulled gently and wound up the yarn, and it held up quite well. It pulled apart in two spots, but I decided those spots needed to be discovered or they might have come apart in the hat itself and caused a hole. So all was good.

The second time through I tried to fix a minor foible of the pattern chart and got myself confused.
I put away at that point and tackled it again in the car. I managed to figure out what was going on and then happily alternated knitting and napping all the way home.

When I got home, it was thiiis big:
Yup, almost ready for the ribbing. I worked on it over the next few days and then suddenly it was done! I blocked it over a small plate and got this:
 And the back side:
The ribbing was ok before blocking, but I'm afraid the blocking has completely stretched it out. It doesn't have a lot of bounce to it. Fortunately the hat is the right shape and the yarn is the right fuzziness that it sort of just sits on your head and stays there.
 I found it very comfortable, and I have to say, I love it! (I am smitten.)
 And in the less than 10 minutes I had it on, my head was very warm.
It will be fun to wear it when colder weather comes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quickly about Quilting

I'm going to try to keep this short because Troy says it's my bedtime, but I can't wait to share this news....I finished the grey and orange quilt!!

Now backing up just a little, a couple weeks ago I was splitting wood on a Saturday morning when the sky got very dark (black). I finished up what I was working on, scooped up everything and made my way into the house quick. Less than 10 minutes later it was pouring. So I told myself, that's it for splitting wood today--go quilt a quilt. And I did.

Ok, faster, faster. I followed the seam with the foot while putting the needle to the far side of the opening:
 I did this on both sides of the zig zag stripe.

Then I put the needle in the middle and sewed in between the previous two rows.
In this way I sewed three stripes on each zig zag and ended up with quilting about 1" apart across the quilt. I did all the orange in the same light orange thread and all the grey/black in a light grey thread.

I got the quilting done that same day!! It was quite a long day, but I did take breaks. (But not long after stopping, I would look at the quilt and think, "I really want to get that done." And off I would go again.)

Then it was time for binding. I had purchased an ombre fabric which went from light grey/white at each selvage edge to grey/black in the center. I cut strips selvage-to-selvage to preserve the gradation and pieced them together with a bias seam:
With the splotchy colours, you can hardly find the seams. It's great. (I even managed to match the stripe colour when I sewed the beginning to the end when attaching it to the quilt!)

Once the binding was sewn onto the quilt, it was time for the hand sewing.
I got to try a new thimble I bought (if we're being honest) because it was less than a dollar and came in really bright fun colours. The colours went by sizes so I didn't really get to pick (since I had to pick the one that fit), but they were all fun so that's ok. Anyway, it's a plasticky, rubbery thimble and you would think that I wouldn't like it for that reason, but it worked really well. Soft enough and hard enough at the same time.

I really wanted to take the quilt with me last weekend for the drive to a family campout, but there was no room in the car. (Seriously no room.) So I finished it up this week. Last night, actually. Then I washed it and dried it and here it is!!
I'm just going to throw out some pictures because I'm sure you can figure it out. Front, back, detail shots, etc.



I am so excited to have this done and in time to enter it in the county fair!

Friday, July 17, 2015

When the Cat's Away...

At the end of May, we took in a cat that was apparently abandoned. We couldn't keep her because of Troy's allergies, but we really enjoyed her cuteness while we had her.
Her cuteness was enough for me to forgive her inability to resist my yarn, but only because I knew it was for the short term. (Well, and because she was just so adorable.) On this occasion, she repeatedly pounced on my lap to attack the yarn ends as I tried to finish my skirt:
Again, I could live with it in the short term, but this week when she went to her "forever home", I had a real sense of release. I could work on anything! I could leave it out! I could spin! I could wind yarn! I could knit! Unfortunately, I've had meetings both nights since she's been gone so I haven't had time for these things, but I could!

One thing I started this week was a kerchief out of some linen that I raveled from a sweater. (I tried to wear it because it was a nice summer cardigan, but it was a size too small.) I was a well behaved knitter and made a swatch:
The lower portion was on 2.75mms and the upper part on 2.00mms. Of course I liked the fabric made on the smaller needles so the project is going to take a lot more knitting. But if using them makes an end product that I like, it will certainly be worth it.

I had decided to do something with the linen because I wanted to have a project I could work on during a camping trip next week. ("Car camping", so nothing where I have to limit the weight I'm carrying or anything.) To me, linen was a much better choice than something in wool.

I've have spent some time looking for a pattern, but I never found one that had all the elements that I wanted. So I am going to make it up as I go.

I looked up how to make different shawl shapes and found this article on Craftsy very helpful. The "wider, shallower triangle" was the closest shape to what I had in mind so that is what I'm going for.

I started with 5 stitches cast on over a double loop of the yarn end. That way I can cinch up the yarn end and have a "seamless" start. (Similar to how I start hats, but in this case I would work flat instead of in the round.)
It looks pretty good, I think.

I then started my increases along the centre line and edges while working a little stockinette stitch and then a simple mesh lace stitch:
I hope to end up with an elongated triangle scarf or kerchief with stockinette and mesh stripes. At first I thought the stripes would have varying widths, but now I think I'll keep them all the same. We'll see...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

County Fair Quilt Block

Yes, it's almost time for the Cass County Fair again. (The 164th!) It opens August 3rd and runs through the 8th, which means I have to have my projects ready to turn in on August 1st.

I have a number of projects I am trying to finish up and prepare for entry, and one that I didn't even start until last night was the raffle quilt block.

I bought the $5 fabric pack last year and the theme was "Up North." I had a few ideas to do with the Mackinac Bridge but I couldn't get excited about a landscape or applique project. I finally decided to do a Bear Paw block. Bears live up north, right? (Right?)

I'll skip to the end and show you my final block:
I put it together in one evening. It is 12.5" this year (I swear), except for a tiny notch out of the right side. (At about the mid point. Don't pretend you can't see it.) But I'm not replacing that piece and will take my chances with how strict the judges are. (They are strict.)

Here is a close up to show the fabric a little better:
The kit came with a dark blue, a green with red dots and a brown and tan with the same vaguely-animal stripe on it. Oh, and the pale pale blue that I used on the outside of the block. I really wish they would chose some more modern, or at least bright and cheery fabrics one year. They are always the same dark drab tones. Ok, ok, I'll stop criticizing before another person asks me why I participate if I hate it so much. (I don't.)

Here is the basic unit of the block:
Make four of those, add the sashing and you're done.

I followed this great tutorial by Delaware Quilts. Except I did the half-square triangles eight at a time instead of four. I followed the Fons and Porters tutorial here for that. (The key formula is that your starting square is 2 times the finished block size plus 1.75".) It worked great except for the missing notch on the right side and I think that was because the block got distorted when I was marking it with a pencil. (Not their fault.)

If I did different colours in each corner, then the four at a time would have been perfect. But since I matched opposite corners, I needed eight total and why not do them all at the same time then!? :)

If all goes according to plan, my block is not actually finished. I have a surprise in store. I'll show you later, assuming it works out!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Green and Striped All Over

I have finished another sweater for Wool-Aid. It was knit quite some time ago, but there were a lot of ends to weave in and apparently I didn't feel like seaming! :)

I think it sat in my living room for a couple months before I finally picked it up again. It look two tries but I did get all the ends worked in and seams sewn.

It's the same pattern I did previously in pink. I'll probably do more of them for Wool-Aid because it so closely matches the type of sweater that they need. I especially like the wide neck that will get over a head easily (an issue in children's wear) but with a collar that wears close and warm.
I took the stripe pattern from the original sweater I raveled for the wool. I liked the stripe pattern for one thing. But I also figured it was a good way to make sure there was enough yarn of each color.
It came out very close! There was less than 1 gram of the gold left, 3 of the grey and 7 of the natural.

I had thought about more stripes on the collar, but with the amount of yarn I had left, I went with a simple white stripe:
I think it's a nice touch to set off the collar without being too overwhelming.

I really enjoyed knitting this sweater. The yarn was not too heavy and was nice to work with. I like the colours too. It's a little larger than the last one and I couldn't think of anyone to model it for you.
But I'm sure you get the idea! :)

Project Stats
Started
: 21 Feb '15
Finished: 2 Jul '15
Pattern: Max (s23-51) by Drops Design
Materials: Wool raveled from an Abercrombie & Fitch sweater (309 g)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"I am So Basted"

said my quilt today. Yup, I finally packed up the things I would need including the top:

and the back:

and got my quilt basted together. I've been ready and wanting to do it for a few weeks now, but stuff. But today it all came together.

I haven't been able to do it at home because 1. no space to lay it out and 2. so much mess from blowing insulation last weekend. So I packed it up and went to my church to use their large tables. I couldn't get three together, so I made do with two.

I taped the back of the quilt to the tables so it would stay taut.
I didn't pull it tight because I didn't want the fabric to "bounce back" when released. But I had to secure it from moving around and getting wrinkles or folds.

Then I laid on the cotton batting I was using:
I smoothed it out over the backing and didn't tape it down. The batting sticks to fabric like flannelgraph so no tape is necessary.

Then came the top:
I could easily line up the centre with the back because I had put the centre along the join where the two tables met. I methodically smoothed the top over the batting so it was lying flat and wrinkle free. Again, no need for tape.

And then I started pinning.
(and pinning and pinning...) I used my trusty spoon tool to save my fingers. It's ideal for helping the pin through the fabric layers and then lifting the end so it's easier to clip shut.

I only pinned in the orange zig zags. My plan is to quilt the grey zig zags first, without having to remove any pins, and then to quilt the orange zig zags after removing all the pins. The stitching on the grey areas will hold everything in place well enough.

That's the theory anyway. I figure it should work similar to how it worked out when I quilted circles on the crossed canoes quilt. (I quilted circles twice as far apart as I wanted, removing the pins. Then I could quilt between the circles without having to remove any pins.)

It saves a lot of time and makes the quilting smoother if you don't have to stop to remove pins all the time. I think it should work fine even if the pins are a little further apart than I would normally do them. All the quilting will be in one directions with the quilt fairly stable, and I'm not moving it all over like for free motion.

Once everything on the table was done, I folded one edge over and slid the quilt enough to pin the side.
Then I did the other side. And presto! I was done. It look me two hours. Any quilters out there--does this seem long or short to you? I'm curious, but have no idea.

The table height was adjustable and I moved them up, but I still had to bend over to work on the quilt. I think I was better off than my usually position (working on the floor), but two hours of standing and bending over is still pretty taxing. I didn't have enough energy to start sewing, although I had my machine in the car in case it got that far.

But I hope to be stitching soon...I would like to get this puppy done!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fix it Friday: Boro Style

It's Fix it Friday around here and I am using Boro stitching with its original intent--fixing work pants. A pair of mine and a pair of Troy's.
Putting my Squam learning to good use! (Hmm...not that I couldn't mend pants before, but I'm having more fun doing it this way. And that means it's actually getting done!)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Really Late or Really Early

I had one mitten left to make in order to have a pair. It doesn't matter if you think getting them finished in June is really late or really early; either way, I have no need to wear these now, but I'm ready for winter!

I'm also ready for the fair. I wasn't feeling well the other day and stayed home from work. With a day on the couch looming in front of me, I started to think what I could work on.

My skirt was done (another thing I won't have need for until winter!) and I didn't have much going on.

But I remembered the lonely purple braided mitten that I finished and then abandoned at the beginning of 2014. I remember delaying the start of the second one because the band was so uncomfortable to knit. Doubled wool on very small needles.
But I pushed through it and got the band done. Then I had to convert the pattern for the other hand and ran into some difficulties. Somehow I couldn't get the detail of the band to lie in the opposing position--it landed in the same place as the other mitten, making them identical instead of symmetric. And there they sat for more than a year.
Well, I picked up the mitten, tracked down the patterns (I was merging two patterns together so I had to find them both and my notes), ripped out what was there and started at the band again. And this time, it worked out so well I don't know what the problem was before.

I knit most of the day. The cat, fortunately, slept for a good part of it, but there were many times she pounced unexpectedly right on my lap. She loves the string. (And the needles. And the ball. And the knitted fabric.) When she wasn't sleeping, I persistently put her on the floor and eventually she got the idea.
And I got the mitten done in one day!! It was amazing. And very gratifying.

The mittens fit a little tight across the top of my fingers so when I blocked them, I used my blocking wires to stretch them slightly side to side. Now that they're dry, they fit very well.

I'm afraid there are no modeled pics because I thought they would look silly with a tshirt. And I was too warm to put on the matching hat. Yes, I made these to match my hat. Do you remember it?
Now I have a set to enter in the fair this year. I make quite a few hats and scarves (fewer mittens) but I don't always have a set to enter. I have one ball of this yarn left and I thought about making a scarf or cowl to match, but 1. the yarn is too scratchy to wear around the neck and 2. it would be quite a lot of purple all in one outfit.

When I finished this mitt, I thought I had no projects on my needles (and thought it must be a sign of the end times) but then I remembered that I still have my Trimmings in "time out". It needs some readjusting and raveling. In the meantime I will enjoy that I have this once-languishing project done!

Project Stats
Started
: 13 Dec '13 / Finished: 22 Jun '15
Pattern: Mash up of Bella's Mittens and Nine Dwindling Cables hat
Materials: Dawn Sock & Sweater Yarn (discontinued), doubled for band/tripled for body, 100g ($1.50)

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