Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Grab Bag Challenge and other knitting

warning: a long, yarn-related post; no fabric here, sorry!
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I had intended to get this post up ten days ago but I needed photos… then DD and the GrandBoys made a surprise visit. Needless to say, I didn’t give much thought to posting anything on my blog!

Despite the fact that I had been in a groove with my sewing over the previous few weeks, I had also completed a fair bit of knitting. My most recent post regarding knitting (as opposed to yarn) was in mid-June so I’m going to talk about all my projects since then; whether completed or in progress.

At the end of June I tutored two workshops: one on stranded colour knitting, the other on slipped stitch knitting so there were a few samples that needed to be knitted.

I’ve already showed you the two slipped stitch scarves in this post, so here are some other slipped-stitch patterns: a slipped stitch beanie and a sample slipped-stitch square that could be used in an afghan/blanket:

 slipped garter stitch sample slipped stitch colour beanie  

For the stranded colour workshop I knitted two hats; the second shows a traditional Norwegian motif I found on the internet.I couldn't get it on my head so I had to put my hands inside it for the photo – it’s not really that shape!.

 stranded colourwork beaniestranded colour work Norwegian star motif

I finished Socks for Someone #4 and cast on Socks For Someone #5; I’ve finished the first sock, except for the grafting of the toe and the sewing-in of ends, and am on the foot (cuff down) of the second. The socks are my own basic sock pattern for women; 64 stitches knitted on 2.25mm needles.

2014 Socks for Someone #4 2014 Socks for Someone #5 first sock done

In mid-July, I tutored a workshop on shadow (aka “illusion”) knitting. I didn’t have my scarf finished in time for the workshop, although I did take it along as a work in progress. That scarf is now finished and is seen here pinned out for blocking. The pattern is Counterpoint Scarf, by Jennifer Crawford; free to Ravelry members. The yarn is discontinued: Moda Vera Cynthia (brown) and Moda Vera Jaclyn (cream) – both DK weight, 50% acrylic/tencel. I chose brown and cream because I didn’t have any black 8ply (DK) yarn that was the same brand as any white yarn and it seemed important to have two strands that knitted up to the same gauge. All experienced knitters know that all DK weight yarns are not created equal!

2014 Keyboard Scarf illusion

In this post, I talked about how much yarn I have. I managed to find storage for most of it, except for the “Grab Bags”. There were too many of them to fit in the space I had allocated, so knitting through those has become my priority knitting. I can’t believe my first project for the “Grab Bag Challenge” was completed last December!

I remember that, for the next project, I grabbed a bag of yarn and intended to knit a prayer shawl for the person who donated quite most of my ‘grab bag’ contents. However, the prayer shawl was a lace pattern and I had to set it aside even before I cast on; i usually knit in front of the television, and that just wasn’t TV knitting! When we moved that bag of yarn disappeared into the pile of grab bags during packing; one day it’ll turn up and I’ll be able to knit that shawl.

In the meantime, I have knitted two hats from a pattern called Bubble Gum which is available for free on Ravelry. I think I would have called the pattern “Bee Hive” or “Honey Pot” because it reminds me of a green ceramic honey pot we had when I was a child (not that it ever had honey in it)! My two hats don’t look as nice as the ones on the Ravelry page, perhaps they’ll look better after blocking or with a head in them! I've only shown one, they are basically identical – knitted from the same no-longer-available yarn from K-Mart called Triplequick, a 12 ply (bulky) yarn which I knitted on 6mm needles. It was, indeed, a quick pattern to knit and I completed the two hats, including sewing in ends, over three evenings.

2014 Grab Bag Hat #2

I started knitting a scarf/shawlette from a simple (free from Ravelry) pattern called Forget Me Not using a discontinued yarn called Lambswool 80 (80% wool, 20% nylon) by Patons Australia. In the comments section of my Ravelry projects page I wrote: “life is too short to knit with yarn which feels like string! Even acrylic feels softer in the hand than this yarn so it has been frogged and the yarn has been given to the op shop (thrift store).” The project was aptly named Yarn Shouldn’t Feel Like String but, unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the yarn before I gave it away!

Then came another hat when I grabbed a bag containing 3 skeins of Sirda Octo, an 8ply (DK)  blend of 80% wool and 20% nylon. I have never successfully knitted a beret; I always seem to have too many rounds and get a lump in the middle where it should lie flat. I had hoped this one would be different; it’s a very pretty lace pattern and the decreases are included in the pattern. But I should have looked at the pictures of the Elfunny Beret on Ravelry more carefully: it had a deliberate ‘lump’ in the centre, accented by doing extra rows! I had to remove the extra rows and add a couple of extra rounds of decreases to make it work. Here it is blocking with the dinner plate still inside! Unfortunately, it’s supposed to be adult size but there's no way I can get it on my medium-size head! Ah well, someone will live it, I’m sure.
2014 Octo Mauve Hat

WM grabbed the next bag (my current knitting project, along with Socks for Someone #5): it contained 329g of yarn called Lincoln Buffalo Wool. The only additional information on the label was that it was mothproofed* pure wool, 6ply (a heavy sportweight or light DK), colour 488, Taupe. No needle size was recommended. I couldn’t find any information online about this yarn specifically or the yarn company in general. It may have been mothproofed forty years ago but I have had to deal with quite a lot of insect damage as I knitted which has left me with lots of ends to sew in! I know it is more than forty years old: the Australian wool industry adopted the metric scheme in 1971 and these balls were labelled “1 oz”!

I decided this time to knit something where gauge was not so crucial and finally settled on  a pattern of a triangular scarf or shawlette called Springtime Bandit. The original pattern was knitted in 10ply (Aran) but I have seen it knitted in 4ply (sock) so it’s obviously very versatile. I didn’t know how far 329g of yarn would go; 8ply wool yarn usually contains about 200m to every 100g so this could be as much as 650m. If it’s a lighter weight than 8ply, it may go even further! The designer, Kate Gagnon Osborn, recommends four pattern repeats; I have done twelve and still have four skeins for the edging!

It has knitted up like 8ply (DK) on 4.5mm needles. Since I am usually a looser-than-average knitter, it will be interesting to see how it goes after blocking! This is what it looks like so far:

  2014 Taupe Buffalo Shawlette 2014 Taupe Buffalo Shawlette detail

I don't’ think I’d describe it as ‘taupe’; its more milk chocolate!

The Grab Bag Challenge is fun; I have no idea what the bag will contain until it is actually in my hands (I’m not allowed to return it to the box, I have to knit it and use up as much of the yarn as possible) the fun part is choosing a pattern that works for the amount of yarn I have (long live Ravelry!) and seeing how it knits up. Most of the bags contain only small amounts so there’ll probably be a lot of hats and/or scarves in my future but that just adds to the fun: small projects are quickly finished then a new bag is selected!

Never too hot to stitch!

It’s winter: cold and raining here (thank God, we were in a drought and needed rain desperately) so it’s great weather to curl up under a hand-knitted blanket/afghan and knit away!

What are you working on at the moment?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Something Old, something New – August edition

Never too hot to Stitch!
Finally, more than halfway through the year,  I am able to report that I had a pretty good month in achieving some of my plans.

My list for July was long compared to other months – perhaps that’s what spurred me on!
Actually, I think it was having all my fabric and yarn sorted and in the right places that made it easier for me to be productive.

So, let’s look at my focus list for July.
  1. The first of my “Something Old” projects was to repair the toe on one sock of the first pair of hand-knitted socks I made for WM. Back then, I didn’t know how to graft properly and dropped a stitch. That toe has been unpicked, ripped back to the dropped stitch, re-knitted, re-grafted and blocked and looks good. Mind you, he hasn’t worn it yet, so I don’t know how much the re-knit stitches will stretch! From my point of view, goal accomplished!
    2007 Heirloom sox 1st
  2. My second “Something Old” project was a pair of socks I knitted, frogged and re-knitted. They have been hibernating for (literally) years because I thought the legs were too short and I couldn't face ripping back past the heel again. I think I’ve gotten more ruthless since all that de-cluttering before we moved; I made a decision to just get them finished and stop agonising! Goal accomplished!
    2010 Tidal Wave socks too short
    Note to self: don’t use a variegated yarn for a subtly patterned item!
  3. The smallest of my “Something Old” projects was to knit one man-size fingerless mitt to match the one I finished two years ago (I may not have ‘second sock syndrome’ but mittens are a different matter, it seems!) I did not even cast on for this one; I got too excited about other knitting projects (subjects of another post).
    man's mitt
  4. My biggest “Something Old” project was my Country Houses quilt. This has been in hibernation since I decided it was too big for a single (twin) bed but too small for a queen/double (full). I didn’t have enough of my original dark green fabric to add more to the quilt so it went into hibernation. For a long time I couldn't decide what to do with it, then I couldn’t find any fabric that I liked. Finally I settled for a very subtle beige on white stripe. I thought I would add some of the checked fabric I had used in the houses as a border for the central part of the quilt (thus making it wide enough to fit a full-size mattress) then add the striped fabric to hang over the bed. I would stitch houses onto the fabric to tie in with the central panel. It all seemed good in theory but it didn't work! Even from a distance of only a couple of metres, the fabric read as white and the beige colour I had chosen for the stitching disappeared into the fabric.
    side panel not working side panel house too subtle
    I really, really didn’t like it! I tried to convince myself that six hours of work had been done and it would be okay but I knew it wouldn't and there was nothing for it but to rip out all that stitching – slowly and carefully as the fabric seemed a lot more delicate than it should! However, I had to use that fabric, I had bought four metres of it (What was I thinking?) and fabric in Australia is around $25 a metre (40”) so I knew I couldn't waste it. It It is still waiting for the day I can face ripping out all that work! In the meantime I realised that I would have to cut the ‘white’ fabric into smaller blocks and that I would have to appliqué houses to them. I considered hand embroidery but the appliqué would have more substance, hide quite a bit of that white and probably be faster! All that to say that the Country Houses quilt is still a work in progress and will, hopefully, be completed in August.
  5. My “Something New” project was a blue Bargello table runner that I only work on in class. That meant only two lessons during July so the fabric was selected, pressed, cut, seamed, pressed and made into two tubes ready for the next cutting step. I only planned to get started on this technique, so goal accomplished!
  6. I listed my Keyboard Scarf, which is knitted in a shadow (illusion) technique, as a “Something New” project even though the technique itself was not entirely new and I had started (and frogged and restarted) the scarf in June. Following a chart for the technique was new so it was, sort of, a “Something New” technique. The scarf was not finished in time for the workshop I tutored but it was long enough to take as a sample. It was finished last week. Goal accomplished!
    2014 Keyboard Scarf stripes only
    What do you mean you can only see stripes? LOL
    That’s why it’s called an illusion! Does this help?
    2014 Keyboard Scarf illusion 
  7. The biggest goal on my focus list was to sort and store my yarn stash. I wrote a post about that here so I won’t go into more detail except to say: goal accomplished!
  8. Then came a WIP – Socks for Someone #4: they were finished on the first of the month.
    Goal accomplished! 2014 Socks for Someone #4
  9. Socks for Someone #5 were cast on immediately. I like to always have a pair of socks on the needles, they make great travelling knitting and I have lots of sock yarn! The first sock was finished and the second cast on before the end of the month. This was another project I only planned to start, not finish so goal accomplished!
    2014 Socks for Someone #5 first sock done
  10. Another WiP was my Nouveau Log Cabin blanket which I finished knitting in June but the ends still needed to be sewn in before I could say “Goal accomplished! That happened on the evening of the 30 July and I’m glad to see it done!
    2014 Nouveau Blanket
As you can see, a pretty good month. There were other sewing projects started which I mentioned in this post and other knitting projects completed (but you’ll have to wait until next week’s post to see those).
Yes-sirree, I’m a pretty happy stitcher this month!
Now can I carry the momentum forward?
What about my plans for August?
  1. Something Old: I’m embarrassed to type this: I’m going to finish the curtains I started in 2011! I think the fabric print is too young for the boys now but DD wants them so wish me luck!
  2. Something Old: man’s fingerless mitt (see item #3 above)
  3. Something New: I’m going to learn how to make a quillo, then I’m going to make a second one – I have two grandsons so one is not enough. Because this is my “Something New” project, they don't have to be completed, just one has to be started and some progress made.
  4. WiP: finish the Bargello table runner.
  5. WiP: finish the Country Houses quilt   **sigh**
  6. WiP: finish the Green Scrappy Strippy quilt top started last week.
    eleven rows done, 21 to go
  7. Grab Bag Challenge: Taupe Buffalo Shawelette – I knitted six repeats of the pattern in two days; it’s a very easily memorised pattern. I am trying to decide if I have enough yarn to knit a seventh pattern repeat. I plan to finish this one.
  8. WiP: finish piecing my curved blocks (20 to go)
  9. WiP: Green Stripes and Triangles – make at least two blocks to add to this one (I need 35 altogether)
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
     
There’s a lot of sewing projects in there, seven out of nine items; as opposed to last month when it was seven knitted projects, one sorting project and two sewing projects! It will be interesting to see how much I actually get done – I’m pretty sure this list is Way. Too. Ambitious.

What about you?
Did you achieve your goals for July?
What do you have planned for August?
Link here with the URL of your blog post so we can visit and see what you’re up to. Thanks.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

scrap happy

Over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge on SoScrappy blog, the colour of the month in May was green. I guess that means I’m a couple of months behind but at least I’m playing along!

The drawer where my green scraps are stored wouldn’t open or close without force, it was way over-full. I decided to make a green bargello table runner but I couldn't find enough suitable fabrics where I had the full width. However, it was obvious that it was time to sort through my green scraps. When I’d finished sorting and pressing, I still could not fit them back in the drawer! It really was time to do something with them. Remember this pile of strings?
 2014 the green strings
I separated the 2.5” strips from the rest of the strips and had so many that I thought I could make a quarter of a quilt with them! I was right. Here is my green scrappy strippy quilt so far. Admittedly I only had enough for nine rows (there are thirty-two rows to a full quilt) so I have cut some more strips from my bigger pieces of scrap. I have not yet had to time to sort them by value or sew them to the quilt top.
eleven rows done, 21 to go
Yes it is curving slightly on the “dark side” but I’ll correct that as I sew more strips (or by blocking if necessary). My quilt top was, of course, inspired by the Jelly Roll Race quilts that have been around for several years now. I had thought I’d like to make one but I find it hard to keep the edges of the strips lined up properly without pins! And who wants to pin 1600 inches of seam?

As you can probably imagine, I still had a substantial number of green strips in varying lengths, all less than 2.5” wide. I needed a new leaders and enders project so I decided to make half-square triangle blocks with some donated yardage and the green strips. I did foundation piecing on greaseproof paper for the first one because I didn't have copy paper big enough to draw 10” squares. I made a mistake though – I drew my square 10.5 inches which resulted in the colour join not being on the diagonal centre line! We live and learn! The second one I pinned and sewed that 15.5” bias edge carefully!
 first two blocks
The reason I needed a new “leaders and enders” project was because I got too carried away with my pink and purple improv blocks earlier this week. This is what I ended up with. I have no idea how I’ll use these blocks yet but my mind will be working on ideas while I’m doing other things!
first purple first pink blocks
I’ve also been working on my “Something Old” project, the Country Houses quilt, and my “Something New” project (the Blue Bargello table runner), but I’ll leave those for another post.
It’s funny how my love for my hobbies cycles in and out. For the past ten days or so, I just couldn’t wait to get to my sewing machine and I’ve still been knitting in the evenings. However, my blog reading is months behind and I haven't done a thing for family history in months!

Does it work like that for you too?
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Linking this post with the 2014 Rainbow Scrap Challenge at SoScrappy blog.
Soscrppy

Monday, 21 July 2014

lest you think I no longer sew

My last few posts have been heavy with knitting, which is my primary stitching craft. However, most of my followers are quilters so I thought it was about time I talked about my quilting-related projects!

I have not yet touched my “Something Old” project for this month but I have big plans for tomorrow!

I have been stitching. I have finished piecing and cutting all the pink pieces I need for my Scrappy Drunkard’s Path row; and am about halfway through the purple piecing. I don’t have any photos to show you of the pieced segments themselves but this photo shows most of the scraps left over from making the pink segments.
2014 pink DP leftovers
Some of the pieces I have already trimmed and started sewing in an improvised way into the beginnings of some blocks.
2014 pink DP leftovers becoming blocks
Here are the purple pieces that I have so far – they’ll be turned into improv blocks next.2014 purple DP leftovers
This is supposed to be my “leader and ender” project but I get carried away and keep stitching, pressing and trimming to the exclusion of other activities!

I was going through my stash of “"donated fabrics” to prepare for making a bargello table runner. My drawer of green fabrics is almost impossible to open or close. I couldn't find enough “width of fabric” pieces in there to make my bargello but I decided it was time to deal with the shopping bag full of smallish pieces. On Saturday and again this afternoon I pressed what seemed like hundreds of pieces. If the piece was larger than my new scrap basket, I folded it and added it to the drawer with the larger pieces. This is what my ironing board looked like after I finished pressing all the smaller pieces.
2014 sorting the green scraps 2
This is the basket containing the odd shaped pieces, the ‘bricks’, the squares and the triangles.2014 basket of green bits
The pile of “strips” (anything much longer than wide) will be sorted by widths. There's no way that pile will fit in my new basket.
    2014 the green strings
The shallow basket is supposed to fit in the drawer on top of the larger pieces of pressed and folded fabric. There’s no way that I can close the drawer like that. I need to use some green fabric – soon! 2014 too much green
The other thing that I got started today was my “Something New” project: a blue bargello table runner. I have designed it myself so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. It is being made from donated fabrics plus a couple from my own stash and will end up on the fund-raising table at the Airing of the Quilts next year. I hope someone likes it enough to buy it. Here are the nine fabrics my teacher and I chose for the project. The one on the left is a pale blue damask, a lovely fabric that doesn’t photograph well.
2014 blue bargello strips
So that’s what I've been been working on in July; most of it being done in the last few days after sorting all that yarn.

How’s your month going? Are you meeting your goals or are those of you living in the northern hemisphere enjoying summer too much while I freeze here? ;-)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How much yarn is too much?

Warning: all about yarn (no fabric here sorry!)

The week before last I assembled all my yarn in one place.

I didn’t intend for it to be there for long. Things happened (a story for another post) and I was just too exhausted in the evenings to do anything! By the time I updated my  records on Ravelry, it took me most of a week! However, I was able to look at the whole lot realistically and make some decisions about what to keep and what to give away!

To tell the truth, at first I was overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I had. However, the longer it sat in front of me, the more used to it I became and now it doesn’t seem so bad!

So we’ll begin with what I had before the cull!

The synthetic yarns were mostly on the table. Here is the view from the end of the table closest to my knitting chair

  2014 synthetics 2

and here are the synthetics (including baby yarn) again from the side of the table (yes, that is my fruit bowl lost in there!)

 2014 synthetics

That's a lot less synthetic than there used to be but still way too much for my liking!

On the floor, under the end of the table were the cottons and bamboos, with the sock yarns to their right

 2014 mostly socks

I discovered that I could knit a pair of socks each week for a year and not run out of yarn (I had no idea I had so much)!

Finally, in front of the television unit, are the wools, including UFO’s in that white box.

2014 wools with sock yarn on the side

One thing this exercise has reinforced is that my stash is mostly either 8ply (DK) or sock yarn. No wonder I never get around to knitting all those lightweight projects I have queued!

And, because we all need closure, here is my yarn collection now. Now I just need to find a permanent home for those nine 28 litre (7.4 gallons) tubs (left to right, top to bottom: baby yarn, two tubs of sock yarn, yarn for me, cotton and cotton blends, wool in weights other than 8ply/DK, UFOs for me, sock yarn for me, acrylic 5ply/sport-weight). The two large ones, which have a capacity of 80 litres each (21 gallons) live under the spare bed. The bottom one holds my 8ply/DK wool yarn, the other is full of 8ply acrylic!

2014 collection minus grab bags

This collection of tubs does not include my stash in “grab bags”; some of which are seen in this photo. These are housed in a drawer under the spare single/twin bed.

labelled grab bags

I did not take a photo of the yarn I gave away – that didn’t even occur to me, sorry.

Now that the yarn is sorted, I can get back to some stitching! Of course, there’ll be some music in the background while I sew or some television viewing while I knit.

What do you like to watch (or listen to) while you’re stitching?

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