Tuesday, 21 October 2014

home temporarily

On Friday we travelled to our friends' home in Bellbrook, west of Kempsey. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see this map (please let me know if you can't because this whole post hangs on the maps!) -- it shows the route by road but we actually took the train from Blaxland to Strathfield, then from Strathfield to Kempsey where our friend met us and drove us out to Bellbrook.

We had a great time visiting with them and were sad to leave. We arrived home at 9:45 last night.

Today, despite the rain, is washing and re-packing day.

Tomorrow we leave for my mum's home in Bingara and on Sunday we'll travel across to the coast to Woolgoolga, the town whew DD, DIL and the Grandboys live.

We'll be there for five nights and drive home next Friday.

See you soon!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

knitting progress and the Grab Bag Challenge

As is my usual custom, I sew during the day and knit in the evenings when WM and I watch television. I also got plenty of knitting time on two train trips in late September/early October – one of nine hours to collect DD and the Grandboys for the conference; the other (of eight hours) after spending a few days with DD and the Grandboys at the house my sister had rented for two weeks for her annual vacation.

I seem to be making fairly good progress – but that’s probably because I’m knitting relatively simple and smallish things in order to use up the yarn in my 'grab bags' as well as my two tubs of sock yarn!

Socks for Someone #5, started on 1 July, were finally finished (grafted and ends sewn in) on 9 September. They are made from Moda Vera Noir “Pink Mix” using my generic sock knitting pattern for women on 2.25 (US 1) double pointed needles. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have a photo of the finished socks.
2014 Socks for Someone #5 first sock done
Socks for Someone #6 were cast on 5 September and the knitting was finished 9 October. The grafting was done a few days later when I had time to do it during daylight hours. The yarn is Moda Vera Noir “Olive Mix”; pattern and needles as above. These socks were a bit on the small side so I will make the next pair slightly bigger.
 2014 Socks for Someone #6
Socks for Someone #7 were started on 10 October. I am knitting them in Moda Vera Noir, colour-way ‘Laguna’. I have not knitted this colour before and was looking forward to seeing how it knits up. Overall, it’s a lovely shade of green, more like the first photo than the second.
 2010 Moda Vera Noir (sock) Laguna (green) 2014 Socks for Someone #7

Now, on to my Grab Bag Challenge – in which I grab a pre-packaged bag of yarn, find a pattern that works with that weight and amount of yarn and knit! Each of the “grab bags” contains smallish amounts of yarns that were donated to me. My challenge is that I have to use all (or close to it) of the yarn contained in the first bag I grab. I’m not allowed to read the labels or swap for another bag unless I don't have the appropriate needles available!
Never too hot to stitch!
The first of the Grab Bag Challenges I have to show you is a shawl I have called “Taupe Buffalo”. This is because it was knitted in Lincoln Yarn Buffalo, colour-way Taupe. The “Lincoln Yarn Company” is now defunct as far as I can tell from my internet searches. The balls  of the yarn were labelled “1 oz” – the Australian wool industry has used the metric system since 1971 so that makes the yarn more than forty years old!

I managed to get eleven repeats of the pattern from the amount of yarn I had.
2014 Taupe Buffalo shawl
The original pattern, Springtime Bandit by Kate Gagnon Osborn (Ravelry link), had only four repeats of the pattern so mine is considerably larger, a great winter shawl for an average-sized woman. I didn’t have enough yarn to finish the edging as in the original pattern. I should have done one less repeat of the body pattern but misread the instructions – then didn't feel inclined to rip out the last twelve rows! It looks okay and the unknown recipient won’t know the difference – I’m sure the fact that it’s keeping her warm will be far more important!
2014 Taupe Buffalo shawl detail
My next Grab Bag Challenge project was a scarf which I called “Courtelle Garden”, because the yarn consisted of 63 grams of Patons Courtelle 5ply (sport) which is 100% acrylic but quite soft. It’s a pretty colour that cried out to be knitted into a light and lacy scarf. Thepattern for the Plymouth Vizions Garden Scarf by Nancy Queen (Ravelry link) seemed right for the job given that Vizions (by Plymouth Yarn) is predominately man-made, being 68% rayon, 3% nylon and 29% linen. Below is a detail photo; the photo of the whole scarf didn’t work!
2014 Courtelle Garden scarf detail 
This was followed by two more shawls, both knitted from a now-discontinued yarn bought long ago from K-Mart: a soft DK weight blend of 70% wool and 30% nylon, called “SportsKnit”.

The first was made from two balls of neutral colours using the Hippy Hippy Shawl pattern (Ravelry link) by Gabrielle Vézina on 4mm (US 6) needles. I had intended to use all four balls of yarn but realised that I didn’t need to; the shawl was quite big enough in just two balls. If I had known that at the beginning, I would have knitted this by changing colours after every two rows. As it is, I don’t like it so I think I’ll over-dye it. What do you think?
2014 Sportsknit Shawl 
The second is made from cream and gorgeous blue yarns using the Zebre Striped Shawl pattern (Ravelry link) by Brenda Lavell. Unfortunately, I forgot to switch my needles to 5mm (US 8) before starting this shawl so the fabric does not drape as much as I would like. I finished knitting this shawl while I was holidaying at Scott's Head, with my sister, mother, niece, niece’s partner, nephew, DD and the Grandboys. (I didn't take any photos because I didn’t have a camera with me and my iPad didn't have enough storage space at the time)!
2014 Sportsknit Striped Shawl
With both of these shawls, I just kept knitting till I ran out of yarn! Because they are ‘donation’ shawls, they will fit someone!

The next ‘grab bag’ I drew had 3 x 100g skeins of Panda Soft Crinkles, a now-discontinued 100% acrylic 12ply (bulky) yarn.
Panda Crinkles
I decided to knit the Weekend Hoodie (Ravelry link), a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn. It’s the first time I’ve knitted a sweater in pieces in a very long time! Ah well, it’ll give me a chance to practise mattress stitching the seams and three-needle bind off on the shoulders! One thing’s for sure, it is not a weekend project unless one knits all weekend and does nothing else. I’m knitting mine child size and only completed the back during the weekend with evening and travel knitting! The front took me another three evenings! I’m obviously a slow knitter! The crinkly yarn doesn’t do much for my tension either!
2014 Crinkles Hoodie back
That’s it for my bi-monthly report. The good thing about knitting is that I can take it anywhere with me (unlike my sewing machine). Since WM and I will be away for most of the next two weeks, it’s very likely there’ll be quite a bit of knitting happening; especially given that we will be travelling over 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) while our dearest friends, visiting my mum, then DD and Family.

Tomorrow, WM and I are off on the first leg of our vacation at three different locations around the state. We are travelling by train to Kempsey where we will be met by our dear friend and transported to their acreage near the town of Bellbrook, population 356!

I’m off to pack; I need clothes, toiletries, books, iPad, chargers and stitch-related items: knitting -- Socks for Someone #7 and Crinkles Hoodie – and my Dutch Cap Hexies (English Paper Piecing); seen in this post (scroll down).

See you in November!

Friday, 10 October 2014

playing in the scrap heap

I was going to post my bi-monthly knitting report but I hadn’t taken any photos before I put three shawls into soak for blocking. Then I remembered that the man was coming to hang our new curtains tomorrow and probably wouldn't appreciate having to walk around my knitting while it was blocking on the living room floor. So the knitting continues to soak and blocking will have to wait until after the new curtains are hung!

I haven’t done any sewing at all for nearly three weeks, due to an unexpected trip north, then house guests during a four-day conference, followed by a planned trip to spend a few days at the beach with my mother, sister and some of her family, plus DD and the Grandboys. For the past four days I have been almost unable to move due to the pain in my gut which I had hoped was a 48-hour bug but obviously isn’t!

I had planned to sew yesterday and today but it hasn’t happened. As Lindsey, from Sew Many Yarns, points out in this post: It's very confusing when I haven't worked on a project for a while and it seems to take an age to get my brain back into gear.

I know just what she means. I was on a roll for the first three weeks of September and achieved a lot more than I had planned. But now that I’ve stopped, I have trouble remembering what I was doing!
Let’s take a trip through the month:

By the fourth of the month I had finished my Something New project – a scrappy orange braid made from forty six 2.5” x 7” scraps. Orange was the colour of the month for September at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at SoScrappy blog.
orange braid
But I quickly found that it’s easier to make two braids than one so I made a yellow one! Yellow was the colour for June so I’m just a few months late (nothing unusual in that)! Then I made a green one and a red one, and a blue one and part of a purple one. You can see them all here on my last post.
So that’s where I’m up to with that project. I plan to take the completed braids to class next Monday with some sashing options and start putting them together into a quilt top. I would have liked to have finished the purple braid before then but it seems unlikely!

I cut way more orange and yellow strips than I needed so I found myself wondering what to do with the excess. I decided to sew them together in sets of three and square them off. I could have used them as rail fence blocks but our quilting group gets a lot of those so I had a long think about what I could do with the squares. I finally settled on a disappearing nine patch quilt. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough neutral background fabric to make a nine patch with all the same sized squares so I modified the design so that I could use what I have (that's the challenge of working from donated stash). Here are the resultant blocks before the nine patch disappeared.
ready to cut and disappear 
Here are the blocks after cutting.
rearranged after cutting
And here is the quilt top on the classroom design wall (I don't have one at home yet!)
on design wall
While all that was going on I also pieced the fourth foundation block for my row-by-row Pretty in Pink quilt and started piecing the tumblers into what will be a ‘honeycomb’ pattern.
4th foundation block in progress first column of tumblers joined
My leader and ender project involves sewing 2.5” squares in pairs of a light fabric and a dark fabric with the idea of making a Jacob’s Ladder quilt ‘some day’. So far I’ve made 60 four-patch units; I need 100 before I can move on to the half-square-triangle units.
sixty 4patches done
The rest of my time in the 'sewing room' was about getting organised. Until recently, I have stored all my scraps – strips, rectangles, squares, triangles and odd shapes – unironed, in plastic shopping bags, by colour. These are some of my blue scraps after I started ironing!
2014 blue scrap bag
Throughout August and September, I had been ironing many of my scraps and have realised that I am more likely to use them if they are stored by shape and size rather than colour.

I’m not really sure at this stage how that will pan out – I think that I will only keep odd shaped pieces and pieces smaller than 2.5” inches in colour groups and use those as the basis of future Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects. All other scraps will be sorted according to shape; and If I have a lot of any particular size and shape I’ll store those in their own separate container. Obviously this is still a work in progress and there’ll be other posts about this as I see how it works! At the moment I have small plastic trays of scraps and little piles of scraps all over our family room (which is also my sewing room).

And, now that it’s October, the colours of the month are brown and black. I’m thinking I might give this a miss; not because I don’t like these colours but because I already have way too many projects on the go and no plans to start another! WM and I are going away from 21st to 31st October so that only gives me ten days more of this month. With WM home every day on annual leave, I doubt there’ll be much time for sewing at all!

So now, forgive me while I remind myself where I’m at:
Rainbow Braid quilt
-- finish the purple braid
-- choose some candidates for sashing fabric
-- take finished braids to class, audition sashing, trim braids, cut and attach sashing

Pretty in Pink row-by-row quilt
-- make at least two more foundation pieced blocks
-- finish piecing the tumblers

Scrappy Strippy (disappearing nine patch) quilt
-- make backing
-- baste, quilt, label and bind

Jacob’s Ladder quilt
-- finish piecing four patch blocks
-- cut 5” blocks in light and dark printed fabrics for HST
-- sew HST and trim to size

scrap sorting and storage
-- make a decision about how I want to store my scraps (by size/shape or by colour)
-- bring the bookcase we were going to give away back into the sewing room
-- store the scraps and give WM back his sofa (not that he's had a chance to sit on it since we moved!)

Well, that’s where I’m at.
What about you? What are you working on at the moment?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Something Old, Something New – October edition

The last week of September was very busy, including an unscheduled train trip north to bring DD and the Grandboys back here to attend a church conference that went from 25th to 29th September. And what a fabulous conference it was! I was on the music team and sang at every day session; which was eleven of the fifteen sessions so my voice was a little tired by the end of the ‘weekend’. Can’t wait for next year’s conference!

Before the conference, I had quite a bit of crafting time in the first part of the month, both sewing and knitting, so was able to achieve more than I expected.But this post isn’t about all my projects – just two:

Never too hot to Stitch!

My Something Old project was also my Relaxing Robin challenge which is being held over at Dawn’s blog, sewyouquilt2. Unfortunately, I missed September’s link up because of my unexpected trip north then having a house full of over-excited people! I did make some progress but I want to devote a special post to my progress so I’ll just show you the original block here.

pinwheel #1

The challenge will be to turn two 9” blocks into a ful quilt measuring approximately 54” x 64”!

My “Something New” project was very successful. I had planned to make a start on a braided rainbow quilt by learning how to make one pioneer braid. I soon discovered that it take much longer to press and cut all the strips for the braid than it does to actually sew the strips and that it is easier to sew two braids at the same time (so to speak) so that there is always something under the machine needle. So here are my first two braids made from twenty-three pairs of 7” x 2.5” strips.

orange braid 

yellow  braid

But wait, there’s more…

Here are the second two braids

red braid

green braid 

and the third set of two:

blue braid

incomplete purple braid

I had to stop work on the purple braid when I ran out of purple scraps and fabrics. I just needed eight more fabrics before I began repeating the fabrics! :-(

A very successful month indeed, as far as the Something Old, Something New challenge is concerned.

So, now: what will I do in October?

I’m not really feeling enthusiastic, but I need to make some forward progress on the Country Houses quilt, so I have chosen that for my Something Old project. First I have to pick out the six houses I carefully quilted into fabric – that may be as far as I get but we’ll see! This, at least, is a lot more doable than setting myself the goal of finishing the whole quilt!

side panel house too subtle

For my “Something New” project, I am going to make at least one of these ‘snap’ closing bags.

I’m thinking of making these as Christmas gifts for each for my classmates, teacher and the two shop owners, but I'll make one for myself first to see if I enjoy the process before I start out with a plan to make ten!

What about you?
How did you go in September?
What plans do you have for October?

Please link here with your specific blog URL so we can all visit and cheer you on.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Something Old, Something New -- delayed

Never too hot to Stitch!
I am away from home for a few days with no access to my photos.

The post for this month will go up on Saturday 4 October -- sorry for the delay.

See you soon.

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