Monday, April 29, 2019

Christmas in April

...or at least Christmas prep. I woke up with snow on the ground yesterday (seriously--on April 28) so why not work on a Christmas quilt? A couple Christmases ago, I was at my mother-in-law's looking through all her quilt magazines (as you do) and fell in love with these animals designed by Gingiber. I ended up ordering a set of cards with these animals and bought the fabric panel. (I never track things down that I see in magazines so I was seriously smitten.)

I also liked the designs and soft colours of the coordinating fabric line. By the time I discovered it, the fabric was getting old so it wasn't stocked in many places. (The danger of looking through older magazines.) But I did manage to find two layer cakes (a set of 42 10" squares). The layer cakes include of all of the fabric from the line.

I figured two layer cakes would be enough to make a quilt if I added a contrasting background fabric (like white).

And what pattern did I want to do with this fabric? Well, during the same magazine perusing I found a pattern in a different magazine where one of the "alternate" colour schemes was in this fabric. I liked the pattern and decided that was it.

Then once I was home, I couldn't find it again. This past Christmas I was looking through magazines again at my mother-in-law's and found it! I asked if I could borrow it and she gave it to me. Yeah!

This past Saturday I was signed up for a book class (a button accordion book - what?) but it was cancelled because there weren't enough sign ups. I decided I was going to claim all of that time (plus the 1.5 hours of driving it would have been) for quilting time. But then instead of waiting until Saturday, I started on Friday.
I had organized the fabric before - enough to be pretty sure I wasn't going to have quite enough. But I decided to proceed anyway and see how far I could get. After cutting most of the print fabrics for the blocks, I thought I should try a block or two to make sure everything was going to work out. I sewed the two grey blocks first:
(They overlap a little - they are the same.)
Everything seemed to be just fine!

I cut the rest of the fabric, including the white on Saturday. I had to get creative by the end. I was feeling some embarrassment that I was going to have to sew smaller pieces together to get the right size. Like it was shameful that there were going to be a couple extra seams in the quilt. (Ones that you will be hard pressed to see, I might add.)
But I did a quick turnaround on that feeling. Piecing bits together is resourceful and creative and that's how I'm going to see it. A bit of a tangent, but this reminded me of some embroidered blocks I picked up recently. In one of them, the background square was sewn from two pieces. My first thought was not "Shame on you"; it was more "Way to solve a problem; good for you."

For the last red block, I had to get very "creative" let's say. I'm supposed to have two squares of the same size that I can sew together (red and white). Well, in some cases I had red pieces the right size, but white squares a bit too small. But they weren't two small for a different method of making the same piece.

So here you see a red triangle (itself pieced together) being sewn to a smaller white square, and two smaller white squares sewn to a proper size red square.
After I cut them to shape and trimmed them, they all looked the same as the ones done "properly".

In another case, I didn't have a big enough piece for the center square. You're supposed to have a 6.5" square. But if you look at the blocks above, you can see that the center square actually has all four of its corners chopped off to turn it into a diamond.

So instead of doing the math to figure out the size of the finished square and sewing fiddly triangles on, I cut a piece of paper to 6.5". I folded it twice for reference points, and then cut a piece of grey fabric,
You can see I had pieced the grey fabric together and was
planning to cut the 6.5" square from it. But I decided to
do this foundation paper method instead to
save one extra seam (and use less fabric).
big enough to cover the center in the diamond shape.
Now when I put the square on the corner to make the triangle, I can line it up with the edges of the paper, sew on the marked diagonal line, and everything will be easy peasy and good as new. (I'll sew through the paper and remove it later.)
(I haven't sewn this block yet so I can't show you the final result.)

By Saturday night, I had a red block too.
And after today, I have six blocks done - all the red and grey ones. That means I'm half way there!
The blocks are 18" finished and seem huge to me. I got tired of overlapping them on my poster board so I taped them on the wall. They take up a lot of surface area!

Things are going pretty fast; it may not be too long before I have a quilt top!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Blooming Brioche KAL - Stage 3, and Done

Are you still waiting for the end of the knit-along I did last fall? The clues were released a week apart and I kept up with the knitting, but it looks like I didn't keep up with the blogging. I wrote about the swatch here and clues 1 and 2 here in case you want to get up to speed.

I really enjoyed the pattern. It was the first time I had done anything but plain brioche and this one involved a lot of multi-step increases and decreases. I certainly "stretched" my chart reading skills - there are a lot of new symbols in the charts. (But for me still a lot easier than line by line instructions - yuck!) The designer also posted video tutorials each week for new techniques.

Each stage of the knit-along built up the "blooming" theme.
Stage 0 - Preparing the Ground (swatching)
Stage 1 - Roots, Seeds, and Bulbs (cast on and first two shapes)
Stage 2 - Sprouts, Leaves, and Vines (three more designs)
Stage 3 - Stems, Buds & Petals (more designs and cast off), which you can see in progress below:
The petals are finished with a cast off that highlighted the petal shapes and continued the contrast lines of the design. This is what really drew me to the design. I would have liked to put three pins in each petal to create a rounded shape on each petal, but that would have been more pins than I own!
Even putting only one pin in each petal used most of my pins!
I am happy with the shawl but not happy with the yarn choice. It could have been better.
The two yarns are a different weight and one is a single ply and the other is a multiply (which gives them a different "feel" and drape.) The green on the back reflects light and looks vibrant, but the red/orange on the front seems to swallow the light. I'm not looking for neon but something more luminescent would be nice.
I love the build up of the pattern from round bulbs, to stems, leaves, and buds through to full blooms.

I ran out of green on the second last row. I was eager to continue so I searched through the stash and found something very similar.
You can hardly tell the difference, but after I was done knitting the green I realized I should have used the green from my swatch. Felt a little silly for not going there first. (Reminded me of the time I searched through all my buttons to replace one on a shirt. After it was sewn on, I remembered and found the spare buttons sewn on the shirt seam. Sometimes I'm really not that bright.)

I plan to work a smaller rectangle sample of this design (when I find the right yarn :) that would be suitable to hang on a wall. We'll see how it comes out.
The shall is the size that I wanted - I made the smaller version of the pattern.
Showing the back.
The shawl isn't reversible and the back doesn't make
a very organized pattern, but it's pretty in its own way.
I mostly wear it wrapped around my neck, like so:
Part way though the winter I remembered this green pea coat (I guess it's also pea green!) I had. It was still packed away for the summer. It was the perfect partner for this shawl.
But sometimes around the house when I'm chilly, I have worn it over my shoulders too.
I can't wait to do more projects with this designer's patterns - she's brilliant. "Stacked" stitches are next for me!

Project Stats
: 8 Nov '18
Finished: 26 Nov '18
Pattern: Blooming Brioche KAL by Xandy Peters
Materials: DeepWater DyeWorks Lush (Aztec), 100 grams, $22, in stash since 2015; madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Leaf), 100 grams, $25, in stash since 2014
Ravelry project page: Blooming Brioche KAL, $7

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Hasukai Cowl

Ready for another "finished project" post? I introduced this project in this post at the end of September. I finished it the next day.
Look at all that plush garter.
I'm not the biggest fan of garter stitch,
but sometimes....mmmh.
You're right--it does help that it's cashmere.
So why did I not write about it until six months later? Well, I had plans to dye the finished piece. I find this red a little flat and I was hoping to add some depth and variation with a dip in some dye. But I wasn't confident in how to do it and haven't (yet) felt adventurous enough to try. So I started wearing it like this and then it seemed a little after the fact to blog about it. But here we are.

If I ever dye it, I'll let you know. (I'll try not to wait six months.)

The scarf is a tube of garter stitch with increases on one side and matching decreases on the other so that the rows end up running diagonally. Then the ends are finished with a ruffle.
Each end is the same except that the long point on one side lines up with the short end on the other side.
The scarf can be worn as a basic scarf, just wrapped behind the neck:
or wrapped around the neck:
But the reason this pattern caught my eye is that it can be worn as a cowl too. To get there, you have to configure the scarf as follows:
Put your hand inside the scarf and hold the other edge.
Pull the one edge over the other, like you're
turning something inside out.
Line up the "inny" and "outy" points and
arranged the scarf so it is folded roughly in half.
Open up the center of the tube.
Stick your head through the hole.
Now you have a cozy cowl that pools around your neck and drapes over your shoulders:
No cold is sneaking between this cowl and your shirt's neckline.
Or you can pull all the bulk to the front if you don't want your shoulders covered:
If you want to be able to move your arms, this is also what you have to do if you're going to wear it under a coat:
But you can wear it outside the coat too:
I really love throwing this cowl on. (I don't really wear it as a scarf.) It was great to wear inside on the cold, cold days we had this winter when the woodstove was throwing out heat but couldn't stop the cold drafts that were suddenly noticeable. On the milder days we're having now, it's great to wear out of the house like a wrap or poncho.

If you want a simple project that is way more interesting than a long rectangle scarf, definitely give this a go.

Since the scarf is worked in the round in garter stitch, the pattern instructs you to knit one row and purl the next. I applied the same "no purl" method I used on my Honey Cowl to avoid all that purling, especially as it is easy to do so.

I used one end from the outside of the yarn cake and one from the inside for my two strands since I started this for a trip and wanted to be able to travel light(er). (This way I only needed to carry one ball of yarn instead of two.)

Project Stats
: 7 Aug '18
Finished: 30 Sep '18
Pattern: Hasukai Cowl by Hiroko Fukatsu (¥2 JPY, which is currently ~$1.85 US)
Materials: 135 grams cashmere raveled from a Patrick Clark sweater, held double ($2.50 for the whole sweater, 228 grams)
Ravelry project link: Hasuki Cowl for Iceland

May I suggest?

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