Sunday, September 30, 2018

Lucy Boston Update

Since the end of June, I have finished 13 more Patchwork of the Crosses blocks. Here's a quick tour:

Black and white roosters:
It took me a while to find fabrics to go with these rooster heads. The red square pattern almost makes the heads secondary, but I still like them.

Purple dragonflies with bright orange:
I love this dragonfly batik fabric. It was surprising to find two fabrics that combined orange with purple(/pink) so I put them together. The designs don't really blend as one is circles and the other is all lines and edges, but the colours make them work, I think. The inner purple square or ring was a happy accident.

More purple and orange:
I found the orange dots on purple batik and knew I had to have it. I cut the various sized dots very carefully and was able to get this 3D effect. I thought the orange rings on purple batik would match it nicely.

Oh, the sleeping sun bathers:
I love this print! I pattern matched the sunbathers on the outside ring even though the background colours on these pieces don't add up to an overall pattern. They were too cute not to use. The strong red square design helps to control the look of the block.

All these bright greens:
I knew the peacock feathers worked great in any position and I was glad to find a way to use these other fabrics with complimentary colours.

The centre and middle of this block was one of the first I designed:
It took me a while to find fabric to use on the outside. I had the red and white stripe the whole time, but I guess I needed to try a bunch of other options before accepting that it was the best choice. The outgoing stripes make me think of ribbons on badges or old fashioned political buttons.

"Elephant Feathers":
I've had these feathers on the outside corners cut since my first session, just waiting for fabric to go with them. The gold on the centre pieces isn't perfect but I like the burgundy with the colour of the feathers.

I was amused to see not only this same fabric, but the feathers cut and arranged the exact same way on another person's PotC block on IG.

Another green and orange-y block:
Who would have thought I'd have this colour combination on one block, let alone more! I love these cutey owls and the flowers that match so well. I also enjoy the illusion of a square in the middle.

More peacock feathers!
I love this block - so many things going on. Besides the white cross in the centre, the rest of the block is so blendy from one piece to the next. I used the two outside fabrics together on another block with different cuts. (I really like that block too.)

I had the centre of this block together for a long time before I found fabrics to go with it:
I saw the other three fabrics in separate fabric stores and knew they would work. Quarter yard cuts for the win.

Oh, this blue block makes me so happy:
This is another case where the colours in the fabrics seemed to go so well, I knew I could make a pattern that would work. The four pieces with the gold quarter circles were the last piece of the puzzle. (That is a very useful fabric for these blocks; I've seen it used a lot in other peoples' blocks on IG.)

One of the few X blocks:
It's not my most favourite, but I love the little bunnies (they are so cute) and how the moon phase pieces worked in this design.

I wanted one more spiral design for balance:
I need to have a few more soft blocks I think, and I love these gentle looking leaves.

Here are all the blocks I've finished so far (clicking on the picture should give you a larger view):
This is the layout I'm thinking about - arranged from most traditional Patchwork of the Cross layout to least (from top to bottom). I tried some variations based on colour, but it wasn't working.

The blank squares represent five blocks I have designed but not sewn, plus I need to design nine more blocks. That will give me 56 blocks for a 7 by 8 layout. I'm still planning to sash with grey, but I haven't made any decision about the focus fabric in the sashing.

I haven't been doing as much sewing on this project. I can't do it while travelling (which I've done some of in the last month) and I can't watch TV while I'm sewing them. That is a definite drawback during football season. But don't worry - I haven't lost my enthusiasm for the project.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hasukai Cowl Progress and Regress

I mentioned in my post about Iceland that I cast on a project for the trip. The long and drapey Hasukai Cowl that can be worn long like a scarf or slipped over your head like a cowl caught my eye a while ago. I thought the long garter stitch project would be perfect for a trip.

I actually cast it on while I was still at home since it's good to get a start before you leave to minimize the chance of getting stuck without your tools! I was explaining the project to my mom who was beside me and trying to talk her through how I was going to do it without purling. She admitted she didn't really follow the specifics but she got that I would be working around and around. She asked somewhat incredulously, "Don't you feel like you're just going to be working on that forever, just going around and around without it ever ending?" And I said, "You bet...but you make that sound like a bad thing!" We had a good laugh.

The picture on the right shows some progress I'm making at the first airport. I didn't do much more during the flights since we were flying overnight and I did my best to get a little sleep. (We were in the back row where the seats don't incline at all; it wasn't a great trip for sleeping.)

I took it with me every day but I didn't pull it out to work on until at least half way through the trip -- I was too busy with the camera and looking around. The first half of the trip was also busier than the second. What follows are a bunch of "knitting while..." pics.

On the bus at Dettifoss:
By the time I got home, I was about half way done the cowl. This is the Saturday after we got back:
 I got to enjoy a backyard concert of bluegrass music and the knitting came with:
 Watching my first football game of the season:
Perhaps motivated by all the stripes on the uniforms, I decided to add white stripes to one end:
There's always been something I didn't like about garter stitch ruffle, so I tried a different construction on the second ruffle. Then I did a little poll on IG.
Ruffle 1
or Ruffle 2.
or 2.
Ruffle 1
or Ruffle 2.
(Can you tell I used to give eye exams?)
What do you think? I tried to make it clear that it was not about the white stripe or not, but I don't think that was clear to everyone.

In the end I decided I preferred the fullness of the first ruffle. The second one was done with alternating stocking and reverse stocking stitch (similar to the ruffles on the dress I made for my niece), but with this gauge, it was too loose and there just wasn't enough fabric there to make it ruffle-ly.

So I ripped out the second ruffle. (Even though I blocked the cowl, I left all the ends loose for just this reason.) I also decided to take out the white stripes. They are very striking, but they're not what I wanted for this project. I added them on the spur of the moment and forgot that I was planning to overdye the project after it's knitted. The dye wasn't going to work on the white stripe, so out it goes!

I'm about half done the ruffle the second time and hope to finish soon. I have some ideas about how I want to dye it, but it will be an adventure.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Handwork in Iceland

I had a fabulous trip to Iceland in August with my husband and mother. We were on a guided tour and it was not a knitting tour. (I know - Iceland, sheep, Lopi yarns!) But I did keep my eyes open. :)

Here's an overview of the crafty things I saw.

First of all, my crafty thing was a garter stitch cowl, the Hasukai Cowl by Hiroko Fukatsu. (I don't know how active her blog is anymore, but she makes beautiful projects if you want to check it out.)
Here I am casting on at the Toronto airport. I don't think I did much more on the project until at least half way through the trip -- I was too busy looking around and shooting a camera!

The first thing I saw at the Keflavik airport:
And the sheep definitely are roaming free. You see them in small groups everywhere. They let them out after lambing in the spring and then collect them again in the fall in a big round up. (Click here for a video taken by our guide just a couple weeks after we left of the final run into the pens.)

I did see lots of the traditional Icelandic yoke sweaters (they're traditional now, but the style wasn't adopted as Icelandic until the 1950s) in Rekjavik. They were available in lots of stores and at plenty of stalls at the flea market. The prices were all about the same, even at the second hand store. I found most of the sweaters very loosely knit (which makes them faster and takes less yarn) and was not impressed with the quality.

It was interesting that even at the same booth, you could see the personal touches of each knitter. (They are all still hand knit.) Sweaters would have different cuffs, or different collars, all within the same style, but each done to the maker's taste. Of course, this also meant that you would have good luck finding a collar or cuff that suited your style and comfort as well.

I was also surprised at the uniformity of the colour. Every store and booth had sweaters in shades of white and grey. That's it. I don't know if that is the current trend or if they don't use any dyes on the wool. It could very well be that all the shades are achieved only by sorting the natural colours of the sheep themselves.

On the second day we stopped at the folk museum in Skogar. That was a trove of hand made items.
A very fine embroidery
The museum was founded in 1949 and was the personal collection of Þórður Tómasson (first name pronounced like Thordur). It was housed in the local school and the collection was shown in the classrooms during the summer break when the building was used as a hotel!
Þórður curated the collection until he was 92!
There were lots of examples of these knitted shoe liners.
I have to think they were knitted "in bulk" to have them ready for use because they would be a high-wear item.
To have this many in good condition, I don't think these were used. The shoes you see in the bottom left of the picture above are made of fish leather. People in Iceland who couldn't afford sheep skin used fish leather for shoes for centuries. You can imagine why they wanted a woolen liner! The shoes were not very durable, and distances were often measured in how many shoes you would wear out on the way!

These days tanning fish skins (a previously unused product of the fish industry) has made a come back. You can read about Sjávarleður ("Atlantic Leather") here, a modern company that has reinvented the tanning process for durable and fashionable fish leather.

Another thing at the museum were many wooden tools and products. The most interesting display to me was the examples of personal carvings or initials:
When driftwood would land on the shore, whoever found it would carve their initials if they couldn't remove it right away. That would claim the wood (even if it floated to another shore) and mark it as theirs. Stealing this wood would be similar to stealing a horse in the old west - in other words, a very serious crime. Wood was very precious, very little grew on the island (and certainly the trees did not grow straight usable lumber) so anything that floated to the island was a gift. You can imagine that shipwrecks, however tragic to the crew, were a boon to the islanders!
When the museum was gifted a boat in 1952, it was time to get their own building. The first one was built in 1955. Þórður continued to collect artifacts and filled up the building and subsequent additions!
Colourwork mittens
I got to explain to the group why this mitten has two thumbs:
The thumb and especially where it joins the palm is a high-wear point, especially when rowing a boat! If a hole was worn in the mitten during the day, the wearer could just rotate it around and wear it the other way around. Ingenious.
There was a large collection of
spinning wheels

This was a semi-circular object - perhaps a light shade?

Spindles for spinning with wooden shafts and rock whorls.
The day after the folk museum, our group made a pit stop for gas and groceries. Look what I found in the grocery store!
This wall of yarn is only half of what they had.

There goes my yarn, right beside the food:
My kind of attitude -- let's have yarn in the grocery store with the rest of the necessities!

We saw these little rock people in various places around the island:
I believe they were glued together and then cleverly painted. (I don't know where they got the rocks because there are certainly no smooth or rounded rocks in Iceland.)

We also so plenty of little figures and creatures made out of simple shapes of wood:
These little bunnies were adorable (on display at a hotel; not for sale).

I also saw several of these figures outside of craft stores:
Looks like they're built kind of like our scarecrows (but with less straw).
This one was outside a small shop at Asbyrgi Canyon (in Vatnajökull National Park). They had the best quality knitting by far. They also had a larger variety of items.
Look! A fish tie! Probably made from leather from the company linked above.
I bought a pair of red fingerless gloves at this shop and made good use of them during the rest of the trip!

I saw this cute little construction of a traditional house on the lawn of a museum in the town of Akureyri:
This town also has the best red lights:
Can you imagine how much better traffic would be if all red lights were hearts?

We saw this wooden statue at the Hof concert hall in Akureyri:
She is a representation of the first woman to vote in Iceland, in 1863.

This is what I found hanging on the bedroom wall when we stayed in a gatehouse in Hofsstadir:
The rural area is known for its horse acumen but also has a lot of sheep. This is sheep wool attached to wooden frames and hung on the wall. Three very different varieties and they were so satisfying to pet! :)

And, finally, these knit covered posts gave us a fond farewell at the Keflavik airport security screening.

May I suggest?

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