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)
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?
Linking this post with the 2014 Rainbow Scrap Challenge at SoScrappy blog.

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?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Something Old, something New – July edition

Never too hot to Stitch!
What a month June turned out to be: five days staying with my mother, three weeks with bronchitis, another three-day trip away to tutor two knitting workshops (“stranded colour knitting” and “using slipped stitches for colour and texture”) and hosting a couple who were billetted with us for four days! Needless to say, not much sewing happened during the month.

My stats show that less and less people are signing up for Something Old, something New each month; in fact, less and less people are visiting my blog period! I am tempted to stop the linky party right now but I need something to keep me working on my old projects – they have a way of wearing me down after a while! Just knowing they are there, in the background, whatever life throws at me, makes me want to get them finished! So, Something Old, Something New will continue, despite the fact that I seem to say the same thing -- “almost no progress” -- every month!

In June, my “Something Old” project was to have been a pair of curtains I started way too long ago. Those poor old curtains never even made it out of the cupboard! What little time I had in front of the machine (not a lot when you’re coughing ‘fit to bust’) was spent working on the Country Houses quilt, which had been my Something Old project earlier this year. I was working away on it, making reasonable progress, when I found a small hole right on the seam line of one of the central blocks! I had to unpick some quilting, and open the backing and wadding (it’s a quilt-as-you-go project) to access the seam in question. I really didn't know what to do so I took it to my quilting teacher. I hadn’t been in class for weeks because I hadn’t wanted to share my germs so it wasn't until the very last day of June that the hole was repaired! (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo and the repair is almost invisible!)

I did spend some sewing time at home practising my curved piecing
2014 curved piecing
and in class (after repairing the hole) on foundation piecing so at least some progress was made on my Something New techniques!

My crafting plans for July are as follows:
  1. Something Old -- repair the first pair of 4ply (sock weight) socks I ever knitted: they were for WM and I dropped a stitch while grafting the toe; I have had to rip back several rows to find that stitch!
    Mark's first sock under repair
  2. Something New -- sort my yarn stash, decide what's staying and what’s going then update my stash records on Ravelry! (There’ll be a separate post about this so no photo here)
  3. Works in Progress -- sew in the ends of the pair of socks I finished knitting this past weekend (Socks for Someone #4); it took me eight months to knit the first sock and less than a week to knit the second! They were completely finished on 1 July.
    2014 Socks for Someone #4
  4. Something Old -- graft the toes of the Tidal Wave socks I started a long time ago (the original pattern can be seen here on Ravelry). According to my Ravelry notes, the socks were in hibernation because they were possibly too small (too short?) but it's time to get them off the needles and move on!
    tidal wave sock
  5. Something New -- shadow knitting: I’m currently making a scarf which has the illusion of a piano keyboard (Ravelry link)
  6. Works in Progress -- sew in the ends of my Nouveau Log Cabin knitted blanket (seen in this post about knitting)
  7. Something Old -- finish the Country Houses quilt (you’ve seen this often enough – no more photos till it’s finished!)
  8. Something Old -- knit one fingerless mitten (man size)
    man's mitt
  9. Something New -- a new quilting technique for me: Bargello
  10. Something New -- cast on Socks for Someone #5 (I always have socks on my needles) -- I cast on last night while I was wastching television; I didn't have enough light to cast on navy mitts (the colour in the photo above is nowhere near dark enough) and I can't sit there doing nothing!
    2014 Socks for Someone #5
I have decided that I will do all ten of these things in July, which is quite ambitious considering how little I usually get done! Some of them are only little projects  so I think it's possible to get it all done... I have listed them here in the order I plan to do them but, who knows?!

What about you?
How did you go with your plans in June?
What are your plans for July?

Remember, your “Something New” project can be to start something new or learning (or practising) a new technique! (This month I'm doing both!)

Please link the URL of your specific blog post here so others can come and check out what you’re up to!

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