April 20, 2014
Yesterday, I went to a lovely day-long Introduction to Hand Piecing workshop with a friend and her friend in a neighboring village. Why would I take a class in hand piecing when I’m fairly competent at it already? Well, first, I thought it was going to be a machine quilting class, and I feel less confident in my machine skills. And second, it would be a nice day out with the ladies, including an introduction to a crafty friend-of-a-friend. It turned out that I already knew as much as we were going to learn in class. I offered up a few tips that my original hand quilting instructor had offered, which probably made me seem like a bit of a know it all. :( My original instructor was rather strict about the rules of quilting. This instructor was very nice and the class was relaxed, laid-back, and fun. I think it was a good introduction to hand piecing, but she rushed through the demo of rotary cutting, machine piecing, and quilting. I don’t think I would enjoy her longer class on quilting, because I thought her sampler was a bit messily done in places. Of course, my own are messily done in places, but I don’t claim to be a quilting instructor.
The four students in the class were completely different in style, though we all made the same Friendship Star block. My friend prefers a pale blue and rose palette, her friend liked a modern/retro grey and yellow print, the other student had a spring mixture of fresh greens and yellows, and I boldly went where none of them dared to go. When I chose my bright red, grey, and space print, I could see in their faces that it would not have been anything they would have selected ever. Full stop. But it was perfect for me! Below are my friend’s block, her friend’s block, and my first knitmystash self portrait!
They all turned out so lovely! The others plan to make cushions or mats with theirs. I already cut a second block, and I’m making a tote bag. The best thing the class did for me was to remind me that I do enjoy hand piecing. I hadn’t done any in a while because I was working on hand quilting the quilt for Mom, but I might take some time to do a bit more of it on rainy days like this one.
Happy Easter, everyone!
April 5, 2014
April is the month for Camp NaNoWriMo, the event where many people worldwide attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. I was tempted to do NaNoWriMo this month, but decided that my other hobbies needed more attention. I do like the idea of a goal and time pressure, though, so I decided to declare this National Wool Spinning Month, and to attempt to spin a pound of fiber in 30 days. That is 453.6 grams, or 15.12 grams per day. On a good day, I can spin maybe 7 grams in an hour. That makes my goal, like writing a novel, obtainable with considerable effort. I decided that the pound of yarn I would spin are my 400 grams of purple Tops woolyknit wool and my roughly 56 grams of Bullen’s Wullens green wool/silk blend.
I am already behind. I missed the first day, not devising this plan until the second. Then I’ve been both busy and under the weather this week. I’ve done some good spinning today, though. I should be at 75 grams tonight, but I’m around 35 grams, mostly in the last two days. I am enjoying spinning so far! I think both yarns are really beautiful! It has made me think a lot about investing in a spinning wheel, though. Pictured below is my current state, with the green in unfinished, single, and plied states, and the purple just starting to be spun/plied. For the purple, I’m doing the ply-as-you-go chain ply technique, which I kind of like a lot, even if it is slightly less efficient.
March 25, 2014
I went to town a bit with tatted bookmarks while visiting my family. Here are the results. The first was a cross bookmark with large, rainbow colored cotton thread. I like how cheerful it ended up. I can tell I am getting a little better, though there are still inconsistencies and tiny mistakes on occasion.
The second bookmark was the simple linear version of the same pattern, from white thread. It isn’t quite finished here, but you get the idea.
It was really great to see my family and to give them lovely bookmarks!
March 2, 2014
I have completed my second tatting project! I now have two lovely tatted bookmarks! Woohoo! The first, a cross done in some teensy tiny cotton thread, was really difficult. I think I need to be a better tatter before I tackle teeny tiny thread for a while. The cross bookmark pattern is available here. There are some definite mistakes. I have more than one place where I managed to twist it while joining. The picots are every size, and the rings don’t snug up in the corners like they should. But I’m awfully proud of it nevertheless! In the pattern, you are meant to run a ribbon through it. I probably will eventually, which will help the mistakes be less noticeable, I hope!
The second bookmark was in (comparatively) giant cotton thread, and was clearly what a beginner should start with. I still made a few mistakes, and not all my stitches are perfect and even, and my picots are all kinds of crazy sizes, but it gave me some valuable practice and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. It was a little wavy on the edges, but blocking it seems to have helped that a lot. I can’t find this bookmark pattern. I found it, started the bookmark, and then completely lost the web page it was on. I’ve searched for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I just made the second half look like the first half. I’ve also completely finished it… Weaving the ends back through the stitches and everything! Woohoo! I knew if I didn’t just do it immediately, I never would. Yay, bookmark!
February 22, 2014
Four years ago, I won hatlympics gold by knitting eighteen hats over the course of the Games. This year, I managed a single hat. It is lovely, all mossy with a bright stripe. I certainly don’t need another hat, but it is just so lovely and form fitting that I’m tempted to keep it for myself. It makes me want to hit the slopes! Though with the complete lack of snow here this winter, I’d end up hitting the mud. yay.
It is green and orange Yorkshire wool I bought on a trip to York, in a store called Ramshambles on the famous “Shambles” alley in that city. Based on Maze’s hat as seen during the Olympic coverage, it has just a few rows of ribbing, and then is moss-stitch throughout. I had a hard time decreasing for the top; I ripped it out twice before I got something that I found acceptable. I decided to do four double-decreases around every-other-row instead of eight single decreases every-other-row like I normally do. This allowed the moss stitch pattern to continue with less interruption. I’m still not so fond of the way it ended up, but it looks much better than the earlier alternatives. You basically have the choice of trying to make it look as invisible as possible (which I tried to do) or emphasize the lines of the decreases (which I was having trouble lining up correctly in the moss stitch). Either way, it turned out lovely! Yay!
February 20, 2014
You might recall my last post, in which I explain that even though I usually knit hats during the Olympics, this time would be different! I was going to quilt up a storm! Well, I am knitting a hat. It is a beautiful moss-stitch hat inspired by the one worn by the (double!) gold medallist Maze of Slovenia. It is lovely and wonderful in a mossy green and dark orange. Normally, I’d be finished with five hats by now, but I have just been taking my time, enjoying the Olympics, and not rushing through this hat. No more wilty quilties for me this Olympics; I am firmly in the Yarny Army!
February 15, 2014
I love to watch the Winter Olympics. All that snow and ice and speed and grace and excitement! But I will let you in on a little secret. I sometimes pause the tv and take pictures of the screen. No, not for those exciting Olympic moments that no one can forget, but rather for the knitwear.
I really love this moss-stitch hat! I couldn’t figure out the pattern until they zoomed in on someone wearing one who won something. I also enjoyed a red hat from the women’s downhill skiing with lots of tiny cables criss-crossing it. (It didn’t photograph well.) My favorite from the opening ceremonies was Slovakia. The motifs on scarves and gloves are just darling! For me, they narrowly beat out Sweden and Andorra, who always have excellent knitwear. We shall not mention the atrocious U.S. sweaters.
I usually knit lots and lots of hats during the Olympics, but this time, I decided to try quilting on my Home on the Farm Quilt instead. It’s slow going, and I’m doing more non-quilting than quilting… Also, my fingers are really itching to knit a hat, especially when they show such lovely examples on the slopes…
January 29, 2014
A new Dear Friend has taught me how to tat, and I have made a beautiful butterfly! Behold!
It was a crafting exchange; I taught her to spin using a drop spindle last weekend, and this week, she has been teaching me how to tat little lacy things. You can see the tatting shuttle I borrowed from her, as well as my initial string of loops as I was learning. I think that like spinning, tatting isn’t too difficult, once you understand the idea behind it. We still have another lesson to cover “tatting from the ball”, but I think I understand how to tat and I can produce beautiful butterflies!
In other news, I’ve been knitting these gorgeous socks. The pattern is called “Ugly Duckling Socks” because the idea is that you can take a horrid colorway of self-striping sock yarn and pair it with a solid and produce lovely socks. I’m starting with lovely yarn and producing lovely socks, so I would like to call mine “Windowpane Socks”. I’ve added a single purl stitch to the center of each pane. They’re turning out quite nice, if a little large. I’ll probably decrease extra at the heel to make them snugger around the foot. It was very easy to find my set of size 2 needles, by the way, now that they are organized in my new knitting needle case! Yay!
Hrmph. I just noticed that I’m not doing the pattern correctly. The panes look lopsided because they are; I’ve forgotten a whole row around the bottom of each one! Should I rip it out or keep going with the pattern as I have mis-implemented it?
January 27, 2014
Tonight, I sewed up a cute little knitting needle case for my DPNs. I have been living with a bag full of a gazillion little needles, and it took forever to find four of the size I wanted in that haystack. Lately, I have been thinking that a knitting needle case would be quite easy to sew up, and would save me so much trouble in the long run. In fact, it took about an hour to get something functional. (I still have some finishing I could add, like embroidering sizes onto the pockets or adding a tie or elastic closure.
I started with two scrap rectangles of fabric, about 16 inches by 30 inches. I sewed them together, right sides together, leaving a little hole to turn them right-sides-out, and I top-stitched around the rectangle which closed that hole. Next, I folded up about 4 inches on the bottom to make the pockets, then stitched from the bottom to the top of the pocket over and over again every inch or so. I made larger pockets for larger needles and smaller pockets for smaller ones. To make it tidier, add a line of stitching about 4 inches from the top, for the fold line. You can then add ribbons or elastic to one end of the rectangle to hold it closed when it is rolled up. Then stock it with all your needles, sorted conveniently by size! Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!
I finished knitting a jaunty beret in some left over King Cole Mirage (the same that I knitted some fingerless mitts), but I need to rip out the last bit and redo the ribbing because I made it too small. Partially this was because I was overcompensating for the last beret which I made too large, and partially this was because I got to watching Dr. Who and lost track of how much I had decreased. My next project is going to be some socks with some new yarn and old yarn and DPNs from my newly-organized collection! Yay!
January 25, 2014
Our shopping trip in the two semi-local yarn shops went quite well:
I’ve already added all this yarn to my Ravelry stash (I’m about 1/3 of the way through filling it in, maybe?), and I’ve spent plenty of time petting my favorites tonight (which, let’s face it, is all of it). I think my friend was amused every time she heard me say about a different yarn, “I think this might be the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen!” But as you can see from what I ended up with, it was always true!! We also discovered that we have completely different tastes in yarn. I like the heathery jewel and autumnal colors, and she likes more pure muted colors. I have a complete weakness for sock and lace weight yarns and she prefers something a little larger. Anyway, it was a fun day, and I’m looking forward to getting together tomorrow and knitting/spinning/tatting! Woo!
These were some great wool shops; one was huge and awesome, and the other is actually an online business which also sells yarn, so you can investigate the yarns in person and then order them online for delivery if you decide you love one of them. Here is the larger of the two shops we visited, though this is really showing less than half the store: