Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bunny Applique and Steeks! Eek!

!I'm making progress on my applique project:


I'm glad I found my clip-on magnifiers! I was having a hard time seeing where to stitch. I'm still a little clumsy as a leftover from my right
thumb surgery, but it's getting better. Anyway, this baby quilt for
Daphne will be machine quilted. I just wanted a cute bunny center for
the quilt. The rest will be pieced. The fabric to the right is the
backing, a Beatrix Potter scenic print. The bunny is from Hop to It! by Edyta Sitar. I will be doing more applique again as I get my dexterity back!



The big knitting news this week is (drumroll, please) I finally steeked DH's Fair Isle sleeveless cardi! Ta-da!


Before I could do that, I had to graft the shoulders. It was just like doing the toe of a sock, only more sts.




Then I had to give the extra sts a haircut on the inside. Here's what it looked like:


The little birdies will be nesting soon. All that nesting material will be met with songs of joy. Just think of the baby birdies nestled down in
all that wool! Well, it isn't merino...a little scratchy,
actually...but that's what feathers are for. Softer than twigs by a
long shot! OK, back to work...



I had to cut right down the middle, which was where the two light-colored sts came together. I'm glad I had read about steeking in The New Stranded Colorwork
by Mary Scott Huff. I didn't need to sew this yarn first, but I
followed her instructions to put on your glasses (I use clip-on
magnifiers) and put something inside the sweater to keep from cutting
the floats on the other side. I used my ironing board, which worked
great, because the V-neck gave it kind of a bulge in the front, and the
ironing board accommodated it. Then I carefully cut between the two
middle sts, which I could recognize by the "V" made by the st. I
started at the neck, which was easy to see but closed up (to the left
in the photo) and paid attention to the "V", which was upside down
because I was starting from the top.

Now all I have to do is pick up a gazillion sts (one for each row, because it's Fair Isle, and that's the rule. Then I have to do the corregated
ribbing for the button band, neck trim and button hole band, all in one
piece. After that I get to do (drumroll, please!) two more steeks, this
time for the armholes. I'm sure glad I did the CLiC first, so I could
do a steek with a lot of hand-holding! It's not nearly as scary as you
think!


In spinning news...more baby alpaca. I want to finish up what I have, which is down to a few ounces now, while I'm in the habit of making the
thin singles for fingering-weight yarn. That way, I can use up what was
left over from the Landscape Shawl. Maybe good for socks. Lots of socks!




My friend Linda at Blue Moon Ranch (one of the two alpaca Lindas) is having an alpaca fleece giveaway. To enter--and to read her very
interesting blog about her trip to Africa--go here: http://bluemoonranch.wordpress.com/
You can enter as often as you like. Winner will be announced May 1st. My
fiber came from the other Linda, but this one has comparable fiber. You
can follow the link to her Etsy store, too.

I'm trying to gradually photograph old projects. The ones that are available to me,
that is. This week's submission is DH's ski sweater, which has a funny
story.


DH and I were dating in 1964. I decided to make him a ski sweater for Christmas, but I wanted to be sure it fit, having been burned before. (Note: Always swatch if you're making
something that has to fit!!!) It was difficult to keep this a secret,
because I would need to knit in front of him, because I didn't have
much time. I really wanted it to be a surprise, though, so I developed
a plan. I knit a miniature replica of the sweater and put it into a big
box, weighted in the bottom with newspaper. I included a note: "I'm
sorry, but I accidentally used hot water to block it, and this is what
happened." Then I wrapped the box as a present. We all had a laugh on
Christmas morning. The miniature version adorned a bottle of Scotch for
a long time. I don't know where it is now. The full-size version has
seen many ski slopes, however. The pattern is from Hand Knits for Men in Bear Brand and Fleisher Yarns vol 56.

I Googled it, and it's apparently out of print, and it's even listed at the above link as an "antique" for $10. (I think I paid 60¢ for it.) I really like the pattern, but I don't understand why
they did the body and sleeves separately, which required seaming
through the pattern. (I don't like seams, but back then, I didn't know
how to do anything other than follow the pattern.)
I have some other knitted items from way-back-when I will try to feature in future blogs,
sort of a future feature. Sound like fiber fun?

What's on my iPod: Still Lorna Doone. I'm back to listening now, as I work. I don't have to concentrate so much on what I'm doing. Also, I just found
out that third book in the Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz is out
(has been for several months), so I got all three in CD format to put
on my iPod. I've already listened to the first two, but it has been
several years.


I've also been reading a real book: Knit One, Kill Two, by Maggie Sefton. This is the first book of hers I've read, and it's very
entertaining. If only I had been able to find it as an audiobook or if
I had a Kindle or iPad.


We did go on a snowshoe/hike Saturday, but I didn't take any photos. We ended up hiking, because there wasn't enough snow to make it worth
putting on the snowshoes. The pups still have little beads of dried mud
on their undersides. I keep hoping it will fall off.


Happy knitting/spinning/quilting, everyone!




Thursday, March 18, 2010

Busy, Busy--This and That

Between cleaning the fiber studio, finishing up Ravelympics stuff and normal activities, it's been a busy week.



Above is what the fiber studio looks like today, after nearly two days of work. The piles of finished projects and the bags of projects in my pipeline or queue are still lurking. The white shrouded thing on the back counter is my serger. The pink mass peeking out from under the table that looks like cotton candy is some alpaca-and-silk
fiber my friend Linda made for me to thank me for helping her set up her Etsy shop here.
Someday I'll have to give you a tour, including my light table/cutting surface for quilting and my little desk. I even have room for a design wall in front of closet and a tall bookcase full of quilting and knitting books.

I have a small quilt show for you from the two groups I meet with. Most of the participants knit and quilt, but a few do one or the other. Here you go--






This one has a story, and then I'll just let the others speak for themselves. My quilting buddy Barbara made
these blocks several years ago and didn't like them. She was thinking of giving them to the Utah Quilt Guild for their orphan block collection, which they use to make quilts each year to donate or to raise money. The flowered print had been a sale purchase originally intended for use as backing fabric. Barbara was lying awake one night recently and happened to connect the blocks with the fabric in her mind. She got up and 2:00 AM, went into her fiber studio and dug out blocks and fabric. I think the black trim around the blocks just makes the quilt top. I can't wait to see it quilted. OK, here are the others.















This last one, Ginny's making for her granddaughters. One is getting the purple/lavender with matching pillow sham, and the other one is getting the hot pink/pink with matching sham. She's hand-quilting them.
My bunny applique is coming along. I have four sets of leaves done. I'll try to post a photo of my progress next week. I made a reservation with my friend Julie (with the ladybug quilt, above) to machine-quilt it in May, so the pressure is on.

In knitting news: Now that the Ravelympics are over, I thought you might like some statistics--

  • total # projects tagged with ravelympics2010: 24,284
  • total # projects tagged with ravelympics2010 and finished: 12,878
  • total # Ravelers that finished: 6,296 (out of 9,538 participating)
  • total # countries participating: 65
  • total # of people posting into a Finish Line: 5,186
  • total yardage used: 8,068,000 (yes…this is 8+ million!)
  • total yardarge spun/dyed: 448,000
The one project I didn't finish during the Ravelympics was my Oregon socks, which I finished afterward and showed off last week. I didn't win any real-life prizes for my projects, just the medals, which are virtual. I did have a nice surprise when I found out that the Team KP Enablers had awarded me the "Miss Congeniality" prize, presumably because I gushed over everyone's FOs. I received a package in the mail a few days ago with some hand-made yummy soap (now resting in my soap dish next to the tub) and these st markers:


They came from Sarah Kain-Porter's "Treasures by Westwind Designs," an Etsy store. There are eight markers, and big enough that I can use them for 99% of the projects I do, but not so big they'll be in the way with smaller ones, like socks.

I'm trying to post pictures of past knitting projects every once in a while, so here's one for this week.


The cardigan and hat are made from worsted-weight acrylic yarn. (Gasp!) I know, not the best for all that work, but it was all I could get. We were living in Indonesia at the time, and they're not exactly known for their knitwear, since the average temperature is in the high 80s. The picture was taken in 1996 during a trip to New Zealand, the backdrop is the beautiful Milford Sound. I made the cardigan and hat just for the trip. I had taken a nice woolen sweater to Indonesia for such trips, but our maid had given it a nice wash in the washing machine. Need I say more? I was in my "purple phase," and also made some knee socks in wool 4-ply (fingering weight) I had bought in the UK when we lived there in the '80s. Sometime I'll get a photo of those.

DH's Fair Isle Sleeveless Cardi is coming along--


A few more rows and I'll be ready to do the shoulders, then off to the
steek! [She says bravely, having already steeked her CLiC last year.]
I've done the star pattern in the same colors each time and varied the
colors for the peerie patterns, the small designs between the big ones.
It's from Ann Feitelson's Fair Isle Knitting; the pattern is Fridarey Sleeveless Cardigan. More information about this project is found here on Ravelry.

Our snowshoe for the week was at Shingle Creek in the Uinta Mountains near us. It turned out to be a hike. You can tell why by looking at the photo. Here's the group. (I'm third from the left; DH is seated, and yes, that's Rocky standing on the table.) We had a great time.



What's on everything--same as last time, but I've been getting caught up with past episodes of the Sticks and String podcast by David Reidy.


Happy knitting and quilting, etc. --P

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Progress

This has been a productive week in terms of UFOs and WIPs! First, I finished my Oregon Socks, which I began in May, 2008, during a trip to Oregon.


The yarn is KP's Gloss in "Parsley." The pattern is Ariel Barton's Cable Net Socks from Knitty. With some modifications, of course! I have a hard time just doing any pattern as written. I loved working with the Gloss. It was my first time with this yarn. I think it shows the traveling sts well, even though the color is somewhat dark. I'll let you know how they wear.


Finished the BSJ and matching hat.




Well, except for the top button, which is still down in SLC at the Wool Cabin, which is where I bought the others. I decided the hat needed one, and since I only had them pinned on, it was easy to pilfer one for the hat. Now they're all sewn on except for the top button, which I cleverly covered with the hat (the Wool Cabin's Cotton Classic Baby Beanie by Suzette Cannon.) I'm not going back to SLC until next Tuesday, so they're holding another button for me.


Now I'm back to working on DH's Fair Isle sleeveless cardi:



This is another project that has had periods of hibernation, the last brought about by the onset of baby knitting. I bought the yarn for this a couple of years ago at the Needlepoint Joint in Ogden, UT. The pattern came from Ann Feitelson's The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. The book is also available as an audiobook, but without the patterns. This pattern is called the Fridarey Sleeveless Cardigan, and the original is in shades of turquoise and lilac. Hmmm...not exactly DH's colors, although he does have enchanting blue eyes! I picked these "manly" colors for him. This was to be my first effort at doing steeks, but I kept putting off the project because I was so intimidated by the prospect. (All my other Fair Isle projects were done flat after starting the V-neck and armholes.) I signed up for the Classic Lines Cardigan just so I could learn how to do a steek. I accomplished that project, and it's one of my favorite sweaters! Now I feel fearless about continuing on with other steeks. I got an inch done yesterday, so it's moving along nicely.


I started my Bunny Quilt for baby Daphne (due June 6th) at a meeting of one of my two quilting minigroups. Here's my progress:



I don't know if you can tell, but I've discovered a new use for my KP Chart Keeper (top of photo)! I've ironed freezer paper templates to the wrong side of my fabrics, and I can keep them together and flat in the Chart Keeper, with the little magnetic strips holding them on. The magnetic ruler came with another magnet board. It's too thin to do much, but I'm using another magnetic strip to hold my chart for the sleeveless cardi on that board, so I didn't have it to use here. Sometimes I use those advertising magnets to hold stuff on. If they're wide enough, it makes up for being thin. You can see the fabrics I'm using in the quilt here. Just scroll down to the closeup of the fabrics. A picture of the block and the information on the book used is there, too.


This week brought a nice surprise, too. I participated in the Ravelympics on Ravelry as part of Team KP Enablers and Team Spinning Knitters. The moderators of Team KP Enablers have decided to give me a prize for "Miss Congeniality." They must have caught me being nice, LOL! (It does happen once in a while.)


My friend Lucille Reilly participated in a different Knitting Olympics. She posted a blog on the sweater she made for the event here. She shows how she did it, step-by-step. Now, just to whet your appetite...



Lucille is the knitting teacher who came to Park City to teach us the Moebius Scarf and the Moebius Bowl. She also has some socks in the upcoming book, Think Outside the Sox, She calls her socks "Jaws 2," but I don't know whether XRX kept the same title. Anyway, they're pretty sensational.


DH, the pups and I managed to get in some snowshoeing this week, too.



The snowballs on Rocky and Sunny's legs are for ballast. It makes them work harder, so they sleep longer when we get home.



Here I am giving them treats for being such good dogs!


What's on my needles: DH's FI sleeveless cardi (above)
What's on my wheel: Baby Alpaca from Linda
What's on my iPod: Lorna Doone from Librivox.org
What's on my spindle: Still the Ashford merino and silk in "Mulberry."


Happy knitting/spinning/quilting, etc. --P



Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back to Real Life!

My medal for "Fleece to FO Long Track" is official, so time to get back to real life. My fiber studio yesterday morning looked like this--


I organized my yarn stash. Here's what the sock and fingering section looks like:



I like to use those plastic boxes that lettuce and spring greens come in to keep the balls of yarn in check. If you're thinking, "That doesn't look like much," keep in mind that this is just a small part. I have two giant bins of worsted, DK and sport, AND a bunch of yarn organized by project, just stacked up on my counter, AND a bunch of projects in progress or hibernating. Not counting my spinning fiber stash. (Completely out of control, in fact, it reminds me of a scary movie, as it keeps trying to creep out into the hallway and up the stairs.) My quilting fabric stash is located in the two cabinets to the right of my sock and fingering stash. Nothing puny about it, either.

I worked on it most of the morning so I would have some room to start an applique block for baby Daphne's quilt. Here are the fabrics for the project.



The patterned fabric in the middle is Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, for backing. The book, Hop to It! is providing the pattern for the center of the quilt. The fabrics to the left and right are from my fabric stash (yes, I have more than one stash), some from Connecting Threads, where I get a lot of my fabric. The "fat quarters" in the center of the photo came from Elaine's Quilt Block in Salt Lake City. I like to take my focus fabric to the store and find just the right fabrics to go with it. Here's a closeup so you can see what I picked.



Now I'm working on my applique block...



(This is from the book, not my actual block, which I've only just begun using the fabrics in the earlier photos.) I was in a hurry to get it ready to work on, because this morning I had a meeting of one of my two quilting groups. I wanted them to see that I still quilt. (I've been knitting baby things like crazy, and then the Ravelympics, etc. Well, you get the picture.) Most of the people in my quilting groups also knit. In fact, Kay (pictured below) hasn't made a quilt yet.



I took this photo to show you the bag Kay made from an old sweater from a thrift shop, which she felted and sewed into a bag. She used part of one sleeve and the neck ribbing to make the pocket. She carries her knitting and crochet projects in the bag. It's big enough for an entire afghan. (Or even a quilting project, which she may do someday.)


What's on my iPod: Lorna Doone (Still. I want to see how it turns out!)

What's on my MP3 player: Today's podcast! I downloaded it this morning and haven't had a chance to listen yet!

What's on my needles: Actively, my second Oregon Sock. Then I'll get back to baby knitting.

What's on my wheel: My wheel is empty, but I will probably spin us the rest of the baby alpaca or...?

What's on my drop spindle: Still the Ashford merino and silk in "mulberry."

Happy knitting, spinning and quilting, everyone! --P