Saturday, May 30, 2015

Got My Back

Once the front of my orange and grey zig zag quilt was done, it was time to turn my attention to the back. It had been a while since I cut out the pieces, so I had no idea what fabrics I had left over or if there would be enough for the back. I was quite certain I didn't have any fabric in the stash that would match this quilt.

So after a few days break, I pulled out the fabrics and was happy to find that I had pieces 7" wide by the width of the fabric (42"-44") from all the fabrics that I had purchased a half yard of. And there were a few fabrics I purchased more, either because I liked it, it was cheap, or it was the end of the bolt.

Next I figured what width of stripe I would need to get the full length of the quilt and came up with 4". I cut a matching piece from each fabric and lined them up in the same order as on the front of the quilt. Here is a sample:
That got me a strip of fabric that would cover one half of the back of the quilt. What to do with the other half?

I looked at what I had left of most pieces (3") and figured what I would need of the other fabrics to make the full length. I had enough to cut wider stripes of those and made up a striped piece to cover half of the back.

Since all fabrics are slightly different widths, I just made sure to match the selvage edge on one side consistently.
Once both halves were sewn and all seams were pressed open, I matched the even edges of the two pieces and sewed them together with a wide 1" seam. Once sewn, I cut the seam allowance to 3/8". That cut off all of the selvage edges, which are more tightly woven than the fabric and don't lie the same. Leaving them in would have likely caused puckers and folds in the final quilt.
And now I have a finished back for my orange and grey zig zag quilt made from the same fabrics:
I realized after I was done that I could have just cut all my 7" pieces in half lengthwise and sewed them short end to short end so they would cover the full width of the quilt and then made wider stripes from the fabric I had more of. Then there would have been one simple stripe pattern the full width of the quilt. But oh well, I did not think of that. If nothing else, I have a more "interesting" back now! ;)

The quilting I'm planning to do is perfectly suited to being done on a long arm quilting machine, so I tried to look up the shop in Kalamazoo that rents out time on their machine (after appropriate lessons). I had always thought that would be a great alternative to owning a machine. But it looks like they don't do it anymore. If you happen to know of a place near me that does, please let me know.

Otherwise, I'll be able to do it pretty easily on my home machine as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Little Wool-Aid Socks

I have finished another pair of socks for Wool-Aid.

They are only 5.5" big. I started these socks with 20 stitches (for a short-row toe, so that would have meant 40 stitches all the way around) but after a couple rows, they looked huge.

So I took it out and started again with 16 stitches. After I finished the toe, I realized these were going to be a lot smaller than I had intended. But oh well, they will fit someone!

So I continued along. I started a 2x2 rib on the top of the foot and decided to fancy it up by doing a wrapped rib. Every third row I put a yarn-over in front of the knit stitches. After the knit 2, I pulled the yarn-over over the stitches. It acts like a rib but looks a little different. Also gives me something to do every third row.

I added a small 4-stitch gusset and then worked a short row heel on the 24 heel stitches.
Then the wrapped rib all the way up the leg and finished with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. (I think that might need a trademark. IDK.)
They are cute and cosy! The yarn is a single ply, which isn't the prefered choice for socks but it's 15 percent mohair and I think that will really help with the durability.
That's pair number 4 in 2015 and 9 altogether for Wool-Aid, in case you're counting!
Project Stats
: 25 Apr '15
Finished: 18 May '15
Pattern: personal (2x2 wrapped rib)
Materials: Vintage Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted (67 grams)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Squam Pennant Skirt Progress

I just checked the last time I posted about the pennant skirt I have going and it was when I was in the middle of the swatch! Well, a lot has happened since then!

After my gauge swatch told me I should cast on 210 stitches, I was happy to see that that matched one of the sizes in the pattern so I could just follow the directions for that size. Since the skirt started with a folded hem for elastic casing, I used a provisional cast on.
(The yellow is waste yarn that will get taken out when the hem is being done. I can't stand actually wasting it, so I keep it attached to the ball while I knit the hem. A little awkward but worth it to me.)

The skirt starts on little size 2 needles, which make my hands very uncomfortable with the heavy worsted weight yarn. But I do what I gotta do.

Each repeat of the pattern goes up a size until you're working with size 5 needles. In addition to some increase rounds, it makes for a nice sturdy fabric where you need it most and for nice shaping.

After about 12 rows, I started to get suspicious of the size (and my swatch) and put the loop around my waist. Sure enough, way too big.

I pinches off the extra and counted about 30 extra stitches. So I sighed. Then I ripped it out to the row just above the provisional cast on. I did not want to redo all those stitches. Counted twice, and started knitting again with 182 stitches. This was the same number as the smallest size in the pattern, so it would still be an easy conversion.
But I was tired of those cable needles. I'm using a cheap interchangeable set (so you can screw different sized needles onto the cables) and there is a big nasty bump where the cable joins with the metal. It's not so bad when you're working with the larger sizes because the stitches are big enough to get over, but it's awful with the smallest size needles. You feel like you're fighting it the whole way.

I've resisted buying good ones but this project was going to kill my hands otherwise. So I picked up size 2 and 3 Addi turbos and what a difference it makes!! These are not interchangeable so the points are permanently attached to the cable. The cable is much more flexible and doesn't push and pull on my hands and the finish on the points is very slick and smooth so the stitches move easily. I know...why didn't I do this years ago? Anyway. Hugh improvement on that front.

I commenced knitting again. I got a little farther this time before I thought that things did not look right. So I tried it on again when it was not even an entire waistband and...still too big.

Bigger sigh.

So I took a better measurement while I had it around my waist and figured I needed to take out two repeats of the pattern. Rip back to cast on and start again with 168 stitches. As I worked my way through the hem, switching to the size 3s, then size 4s, things looked pretty good.

I finally forced myself to stop knitting and try it when it was about 12 inches long. fit!! So relieved and happy.

I've been busily knitting away on it since. After I got through the size 4s and switched to size 5 which the rest of the skirt will be knit on, I couldn't take the thought of knitting the whole thing on the cheap needles. So I bought a size 5 Addi too. Much better. Why did I wait so long? and all that.

This morning, I tried it on again to get pictures. I kept all the stitches on the needle I'm knitting with so the bottom is gathered somewhat. But I think you can get the idea.
In the picture above, I added some spot lighting so you could see the pennant pattern that is developing.

And below I think you can see how the pleats are forming.
Or faux pleats, really. They are a clever consequence of the pennant pattern. It wants to act like a rib, but can't because each vertical panel is mostly knits on one edge and purls on the other. As the purl side recedes and the knits pop out, you get the look of pleats without all the extra bulk of real pleats. (I told you it was clever.)

You may not see this skirt for a while again. I have a lot of knitting to do to get it past my knees, which is the intended length. I'm pretty sure at this point it won't be ready for Squam and at the same time it will be too bulky to pack and work on at Squam. But I'm ok with that. I'm not going to bust my butt to get the skirt done. (For one thing, I still have homework to do to prepare for my classes!)

Til next time, keep those needles clicking!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quilt Top

I finished the last seam in my orange and grey zig zag quilt top this morning. I was glad to be done that stage since it is necessary to get to the next stage, (repeat last step as many times as necessary) to get the quilt done.

But then I threw it on my bed so I could make sure I didn't get mixed up by the diagonal seams and did actually end up with a rectangle.
And then I got excited to have finished the last seam in the quilt top. It happens every single time: I am amazed at what a difference it makes to have all the seams sewn as opposed to loose pieces on a design wall (or curtain as the case may be). I love this top. I still love that with straight seams and no triangles, you get wonderful zig zags.

I don't know how well you can see it (maybe at the bottom), but I have left all the edges "sawtooth" and did not cut them straight. I'm not going to put a border on the quilt and I'm going to layer the top like it is with the backing and batting. I'll cut it all straight after all of the quilting is done. That way I won't have any cut bias edges that can stretch and distort.

And speaking of the backing, I have no idea what I'm going to do! I'm not sure I have enough leftover fabric to piece together a back. My preference would be to have several large pieces I can put together, but I used a lot of fat quarters for this quilt. I'm going to have to dig out the "extras" box and see what I have.

Otherwise it will be a trip to the fabric store. I'll look through the extra-wide backing fabrics first to see if there's anything that will do but somehow I doubt they're going to have a lot of orange options. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spinning Malabrigo

I've been spinning lately and really enjoying it.

I bought the following two braids at Red Purl a few weeks or months apart. I think I bought the second one with the gift certificate I got for Christmas from my boss. (We get to chose our own certificates. I think you're "supposed" to get a restaurant certificate, but I get yarn.)
 Both braids are merino from malabrigo.
I thought the colours had enough overlapping tones that I could maybe combine them.

So far I have spun half of the second braid pictured.
 With the supported spindle, I am much better at getting thinner yarn.
For those of you interested, I pulled the braid into two halves (the long way) and then spun the colour as it presented. Theoretically I will get two spools of yarn that have close to matching colour progressions.
The purples don't come through very well in the photograph, but I think you can see a little of how the colour progresses through the length of the yarn in the picture above.
After watching the Craftsy class "Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want", I really wanted to make some 3-ply yarn. So that was my goal with these two braids. But I haven't been able to think how to combine two colours into three plies. (If you have any ideas, please let me know.)

Hmm...I just thought of an easier solution. Buy one more braid that will coordinate. Good plan!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Half Way Sewn

Only one picture today:

But don't be deceived by your first glance...the quilt top isn't done yet. And don't get me wrong...I'm still pleased to be this far!

I could lay out most of the quilt on my bed, but couldn't quite get the edges so that made laying it out more difficult. I was also surprised by just how hard it is to lay out a design that must be sewn diagonally but has a horizontal pattern. So yes, I laid it out an extra time or two to make sure I had it right. And I hung it up and took a picture so I could stand back and check it again.

The reason the quilt top can hang even though it is only half sewn together is because I tried a new way of assembling the top. I sewed all the seams going in the same direction, but I didn't cut the threads when I went from one block to the next. So now the blocks are held together in their proper places and I should be able to easily sew the seams in the other directions without having to lay it out again and again.

I had read about this method but not tried it yet. So far, it makes a lot more sense for the sewing, but makes it take quite a bit longer and more fiddly to press the seams. I'll probably decide on future quilts based on my mood at the time.

But the best news of all is that I have next week off of work and I really, really think I should be able to find the time to sew this top together! wOOt wOOt

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Oranje Tulpen

I don't have to translate that, right?

With a bunch of orange wool blend facing me after ripping apart a sweater in a fit of I-don't-want-to-wait-a-minute-longer, I looked for a suitable sock pattern.

What could be better for bright Dutch orange than socks with a tulip pattern? Nothing, of course.

Obviously I am still carrying my trip to the Netherlands last June with me. And why would I fight that?

After a false start making these toe up, I ripped them out and started from the top. The chart kept me on my toes. It's a 24-row repeat with an independent lace panel on each side.

But totally worth it because you end up with these lovely tulips running up the centre front of your sock.
After finishing the leg, I knit the back stitches for 24 rows to make a heel flap followed by a short-row heel:
Then I picked up 12 stitches on both sides of the flap and starting knitting all the way around again. I decreased the extra stitches, one on each side every third row instead of every other row to make a longer gusset.
Once the gusset was decreased, I knit straight on to the toes. I thought I had room for one more "loop de loop" in the tulip pattern but I probably should have skipped it. By the time that was done, I didn't have much room for the toe. I decreased the stitches in fewer rows than normal and ended with more stitches to. This yielded a much more rounded toe.
I did the decreases different on this pair, just for something to try. Instead of lining up the K2togs and the SSKs so that a strong line appears on the decrease line, I reversed their positions and got an essentially invisible decrease. There's just a slight line between the front and back stitches.

Besides the length of the foot being just a bit long (there's no extra length, really; the socks just don't have to stretch to fit), these are definitely one of the best fitting socks I have. I am really loving the heel flap with short-row heel and the longer gusset really helps relieves some of the tightness over the top of my foot. I think my foot is pretty narrow, but it definitely needs more room around the foot, just in front of the leg. Maybe it's the high arches. I don't know, but I'm really happy to have found something that works.
The yarn I used is only 40% merino and I'm hoping it will be not quite as warm (even though it also has 20% angora and 10% cashmere). With the sock's short length, I think they will be good for spring and fall season. So far it is working out that way!

Project Stats
: 2 Jan '15
Finished: 25 Apr '15
Pattern: Tulpen by Stephanie van der Linden (free)
Materials: 40% merino/30% viscose/20% angora/10% cashmere mix from an Express sweater (78 g), held double

Here's one more look--some slip of the finger or misuse of the timer produced this picture, but I think it is kind of neat anyway.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...