Friday, September 25, 2015

Wool-Aid Socks-Warm and Wooly

I haven't yet shown you the latest pair of socks I finished for Wool-Aid. A big size at 10" with a cable rib pattern.
 As usual, I started with the toe.
Or should I say "toes" since I do them two at a time? It's a short row toe over 20 stitches, which gives me a roomy 40 stitches around the foot.

After the foot, it is time for my latest favourite heel--start with a gusset, do a short row heel over the original number of stitches (in this case, 20) and then do a heel flap after the heel, decreasing the gusset stitches.
I will often leave 2 or 4 of the gusset stitches not decreased so the leg is a little roomier than the foot. They fit me better that way so I am generalizing from there.

Once I get far enough (or I'm running out of wool), I finish with some plain ribbing and Jeny's Surprising Stretchy Bind Off:
 It really is stretchy:
With these socks done and cooler weather coming, I decided it was time to send a box off to Wool-Aid headquarters. Here is what I sent yesterday:
One sweater, two little pair of socks, one medium pair and one big pair.

And I finally pulled myself together enough to gather the materials and start my next knitting project--some nice red socks for the next shipment...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mt Robson Quilt Comes Together

About a week after I started the Mt Robson quilt, I had all the pieces cut out. I did go out and get a new pair of scissors: the "medium" size Perfect Scissors from Karen Kay Buckley. It was the only brand carried by my LQS, but I was able to try them at the store and they felt pretty good.

Cutting with them was certainly much better than with my little embroidery scissors, so once I had those, cutting was fairly quick, easy, and (happily) painless.

Assembling the layers was supposed to be easier done over a light box. (The directions actually recommended using a window, but I don't know how they get the pieces to stay on the background.) I don't have a light box, but I had heard of people using their sewing machine extension tables and I do have one of those.

So, take one clear extension table:
put the pattern on upside down (so that the picture's not reversed):
 add a light bulb underneath:
 and you have a light box!

I put the background fabric over the pattern (the blue piece is the sky which had already been affixed) and then started to add the pieces in numerical order following the pattern underneath.
But it didn't work very well because I just couldn't see the pattern through the layers of fabric.

So I had the brilliant idea to trace the pattern with a marker on the side I could see:
and tried again. Well, it still didn't work. There's just not enough light to get through the multiple layers of fabric that build up. So eventually I gave up on my brilliant idea and just placed the pieces by eye-balling and lots of referring to the pattern.

You put all the pieces on and arrange them until you're happy and then fuse them all at once. And here is the final top:
A lovely little scene, isn't it? All the pieces are stuck down. I had no problem with the iron-on adhesive so switching to a lower heat setting worked! :)

What this quilt needs now is some batting and a backing and then some quilting. I think I'll be doing a lot of free-motion quilting with a lot of different colours of thread. I looked at thread when I was shopping for the scissors, but I decided to wait until I could bring the piece in and look at the thread colours on the quilt. I'm not sure how many shades of green, grey and blue I'll use.

I expect I'll do some sewing to just hold down the edges of the pieces, and then add more to give texture to the trees, water, sky, etc.

And before I forget to tell you, I heard back from the store where I bought this pattern and they do have a Mount Rundle pattern! I just need to find a time when I can call them and they're open and then it will be winging its way to me.

And now there's very little pressure on me for this quilt. I can use it for practice and do the Mount Rundle piece "for reals".

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mesh Stripe Kerchief...Success!

I finished the linen kerchief I was working on. It is a smallish triangle of fabric to wear around my neck when I want a little warmth. It's cool feeling against my skin (even as it's keeping me warm) which is lovely in summer.

I had a hard time stopping this one. I really didn't want it to get too big but I was so enjoying knitting with the linen and the simple pattern.

I believe I mentioned before that I alternated rows of stocking stitch with rows of the mesh. The mesh is a simple combination of knit-2-togethers and yarn overs on one half and the mirror image SSK and yarn overs on the other. You wouldn't have to mirror image, but I can't help myself.

For the shape, I increased two stitches at the center on every other row and one stitch on each edge every row. The extra increases on the edge made the ends extend a little further than a regular 45-degree angle would have done. I thought that would make the ends a little more suited to tying.

I wasn't planning to add a border on the edge but as I got closer to the end, I realized that it would roll horribly if I didn't do something.
So I added a few rows of seed stitch, which mostly does the job. I thought the texture of the seed stitch would also play off of the mesh texture nicely. I finished off with what I would call HJSSBO (Half Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off) because I added a yarn over on every other stitch only. It came out the perfect amount stretchy.
I am really pleased with the final scarf. I looked a few times for a pattern that matched what I wanted and couldn't find one. This came out pretty much just like I was thinking.
Even though I think it's a pretty colour, it's a bit odd and I don't seem to have a lot to wear with it. But as you can see from these pictures, sometimes I don't care and just wear it anyway. :) These were taken when I had a chance to walk along the river in Niles and enjoy a day where the sun was just warm enough and the breeze just cool enough to make it perfect outside.

I have plenty more linen from the sweater I raveled to get it so now I'm considering what other things I could make from it. I really did enjoy working with it even though it should feel more like cotton (ew) than wool (yum) while I'm knitting it. I briefly considered a skirt, but I know I don't have enough for that!

Project Stats
: 15 Jul '15
Finished: 13 Aug '15
Pattern: Mesh Stripe Kerchief (my own) More details here if you want to make your own.
Materials: 81 grams raveled linen (lace weight)

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Little Sister is Taller than Me

I have finished the embroidery work that I started at Squam in June. Last time I showed it I had finished the figures. Or I thought I had. I believe I added some outlining since then.

What I also did was add various circle shapes toward the outside of the piece. The whole thing is kind of "floaty."

Once everything was stitched, I gave it a good bath. I then let it dry flat and once dry, ironed it from the back side.

Here are the central figures again, now with the blue marking ink gone:
I'll get a little closer:
Isn't she cute? It looks like the threads got ironed funny but that's a white stripe on the dress.

And here is the entire piece:
I'm not sure how to hang it. The teacher I had at Squam just pinned her pieces up directly onto the wall, which somehow seems fitting for pieces done on linens. (I guess linen makes me think of hanging up laundry.) But she tended to do large pieces, up to bed linen size. I'm not sure this little piece could pull it off. I thought about a shadow box, but now I'm thinking I'll cover a board a little larger than this in fabric or old wall paper and pin this piece to the board. That way it won't have a formal frame but it will still have some context.

I would like to do more of these but it does seem like "work" to me. I need to get over that....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Landscape Quilt: Mt Robson (The Case of Mistaken Identity)

Picture from the front of the pattern. "Mount Robson" by
Vicki Andrews of Rocky Mountain Designs.
I recently started a new project--another quilting project, if you can believe it. And when I say "new", I mean newly started. Because I bought the pattern in 2012 when Troy and I took our trip to the Rockies in Alberta.

The quilt shop we visited in Canmore had a number of patterns depicting famous peaks of the Rockies. I liked this pattern best and picked it in part because I thought it was the peak we could see from our hotel in Banff.

Only in doing research for this post have I realized that this peak is in British Columbia and we did not see it on our trip! This is Mount Robson and I was thinking of Mount Rundle. I'm guessing I got confused by the number of patterns they had. I've decided to press on. (I did contact the shop to see if they have a Mt Rundle pattern. If so, I will consider this my practice piece. If not, then this will be my memory quilt and I will think of my mistake every time I look at it but no one else will know the difference.) You can see a picture of both at this nice post about the famous faces of the Rocky Mountains.

All of the patterns were available as kits, which is what I was planning to buy. Not something I normally do, but I liked the idea of getting everything all at once. Except the one pattern I liked best (and thought was Mt Rundle) had run out of kits and they only had the pattern available. Oh well, more room in the suitcase!

The pattern traveled home and then sat in my craft closet for a while. I think it was last year when I decided to pull it out, study what I needed and buy the fabric. I got it all at once from a local quilt shop.
I got a lot of batiks because of the nice colours and patterns. Batik fabrics also are generally a tighter weave which means you get less fraying. Which is a good thing for raw edge applique. I didn't not get a lot of "landscape" prints where you use a water print for water, and tree print for trees, etc. I prefer the more abstract look.

Sometime last weekend I was struck by the urge to get started on this and wondered why I had been hesitating. I don't do applique very often and I haven't had the best of luck with fuseable adhesives. (They wouldn't stick for me. Now I'm thinking I used too hot of an iron.) But really, how hard could it be?

So I took out the pattern and traced all the individual pieces. They number them for you so you can keep track (and it also indicates the order that you put them onto the background fabric).
This is just a part of the pattern for demonstration. I didn't think
the designer would appreciate it if I published the whole thing!
Once they are traced to the fuseable, then you cut around them. And me being me, I organized them. Since we have lots and lots of manilla folders from Troy's old files, I got one for each fabric.
I labeled the piece numbers on the outside so I could double check I had them all, and on some of them I even stuck a piece of the fabric to the outside so I could remember which was which. (I'm working with four shades of grey alone, so you have to know which is which.)
Once organized, I took a folder at a time and stuck the fuseable to the fabric.
The back side of the fabric. (Not that batiks have a back side, but it doesn't stop me from checking closely in case there's a difference.) I only pressed one piece to the right side of the fabric by mistake and had to retrace that one. Not a bad percentage.

I am now working on cutting out all the shapes. It's slow going with all those peaked and straggly trees. I'm using a pair of embroidery scissors so they're small and pointy (and Troy keeps them sharp for me) but the handles are very uncomfortable so I can't work on it for very long.

It's been the perfect activity for me after my long days at work, once I recover enough that I no longer need to lay on the couch. Go back to kindergarten--cut out shapes with small scissors.

But I think today I'm going to the shop to see if they have some more comfortable ones....

May I suggest?

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