Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In Results

Last night I made this little drawstring bag for the purple socks. I didn't have time to pre-wash the fabric, and I didn't have a pattern, but it turned out pretty well. I was vaguely trying to mentally follow this tutorial that I saw last week, but I couldn't remember where I had seen it and I didn't want it lined anyway, so it didn't quite work out the way I had intended - there was an issue with what to do with the seam allowances at the drawstring openings.

What I did was fold down the ends 2" and press, then sew all the way up the sides, leaving a 3/4" gap about 3/4" down from the top. When I turned the thing right side out, the seam allowances were all pointing in to the bag, when you really want them to fold inside the drawstring casing. What I need to do next time is sew the sides of the bag FIRST, and then told the top in and make the casing.

I also trimmed the fabric for the tablecloth, but ran out of steam before I could figure out how I want to hem it. Maybe I'll finish that today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In tomorrow

I'm doing the Friday Night Sew-In again tomorrow evening. I'm thinking about cutting and hemming a tablecloth from fabric that Robert's grandma gave me last summer and making a little draw-string bag to deliver the purple socks in.

Also, Evelyn is coming to visit!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Purple socks finished

I finished the purple socks on Sunday night! I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. They're soft and cushy and VERY stretchy, which is good since I was trying to knit them to fit someone I've never met. It was touch and go there for a while whether I'd have enough yarn to finish the second toe ... I ended up Russian join-ing the still-attached leftover yarn from the first sock onto the second one halfway through the toe shaping, and then cutting the remainder exactly in half to kitchener the toes shut. There was not a single inch of leftover yarn!

I'm meeting up with the recipient's mom between church services next Sunday. I hope they're as pleased with them as I am!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In Results

I went over to Taylor's yesterday afternoon for Friday Afternoon Sew-In, but I don't have any pictures of that - I was working on my super-secret embroidery project. It's getting to a point where I can believe that it might be done someday soon. Taylor (and her kitten, Scout) cut out the pieces of a purse she's going to give her mom for Christmas.

After dinner last night, I made the top for the first of my quilted placemats (in the picture above). I enjoyed myself, but I was also pretty frustrated and discouraged. I can't seem to sew a straight seam or get an accurate quarter-inch seam allowance. I thought my machine came with a quarter-inch foot, but it didn't, and the quarter-inch guide line marked on the machine bed doesn't line up with the needle AT ALL. So I tried to measure a quarter inch from the needle and tape a strip of paper on the bobbin cover at the correct distance, but it's still not quite right. The flying dutchman block in the center of the placemat (which I sewed together with the geese facing the wrong way, so it's not actually a flying dutchman) is supposed to be 12.5" square unfinished, but turned out 12" square. I think I made it worse by trimming the geese wrong. You can see it's pretty wonky.

Anyway, so I'm going to have to fiddle with the machine more to get better seams before I can do any real quilting. On the bright side, my machine did come with a darning foot and feed dog cover as well as a walking foot and "quilting guide" (for spacing straight quilting lines evenly) so I'm good to go to practice both straight-line and free-motion quilting!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sheepie jammies

I love sheep. Someday I will have a little farm with sheep to shear and I will spin and knit their wool into purple sweaters. But meanwhile, I have these adorable scarf and sock and hat-wearing sheep on my jammies. The fabric is actually a flannel flat sheet from Garnet Hill. When I was in college, I saw the sheets in the Garnet Hill catalog and asked for them for Christmas. My mom got them for me, and when they arrived she decided that she needed a set, too, and we ordered an extra flat sheet to make matching jammies from. They are cosy and roomy and comfy and warm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

I'm excited to participate in the Friday Night Sew-In over at Handmade by Heidi. I think Taylor and I are going to get together to work on crafty/sewing things in the daytime, and I will probably also do some sewing actually at night. I wanted to do it last month, but I had a concert that night so I couldn't. Luckily, there are two this month to make up for it!

I'm going to work on my super-secret embroidery project and possibly start some quilted placemats. I feel like knitting is not really sewing, so I probably won't do knitting or spinning things.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Last colloquium of the semester

We are officially done with classes for the semester - we still have finals grading, and I'm still working on my non-class work (which is mostly what I was trying to do this semester anyway), but There will be no more CMS/colloquium until the second week of January. This past Thursday, we had two colloquia - our department is hiring a new professor next year, so we've had extra "special colloquiua" (a.k.a. job talks) all the time the last few weeks, and one of them bumped CMS.
This is the first purple sock, which is now done except for the grafting. I just barely had enough yarn. Hopefully the second sock will work out just as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handspun mitts finished!

I finished these fingerless mitts about a month ago. They're made from this handspun yarn.
They are very cosy and nice in symphony rehearsals, and they don't impede my cello playing.
The first time I wore them to rehearsal, some people were telling me when their birthday is ... unfortunately, I don't usually knit for people I don't know that well.

Now I just have to figure out something else to make with the rest of the yarn!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I have been woefully absent from my blog lately. This photo is from almost two weeks ago (since last Thursday was Thanksgiving), and I have so many other lovely projects I've been meaning to post about. The tea cosy is nearly done - since this photo was taken, I've finished the top, so all I have left to do is the lining. However, it has been put on hold so some more urgent projects can be completed.

I've been thinking a lot about quilting lately. I'd like to make a full-sized quilt for our bed, and I want to do it block by block, since I don't think I can handle quilting a huge quilt on my little machine, and also I want to put different batting on Robert's side and my side. But before I do that, I'm going to make a lap quilt with materials I bought at the quilt show my mom and I went to this month, and I feel like I need to make some quilted placemats for machine quilting practice before I can do that.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mending my pink sweater

Robert and I are going to his cousin's wedding this evening. This pink ballet wrap sweater is the only nice sweater I currently own (and the color is much nicer than the picture shows - it's a lovely tulip pink). When my mom was visiting last weekend, she helped me pick out a new dress to wear with it - a grey knee-length dress with lace and bead-work. The only problem was, the sweater had a hole. Right under the armpit, where a seam opened up a few months ago (it's kind of a sculptural sweater, and not super-easy to get on and off). As Robert can attest, my usual reaction to clothes with holes is to toss them in the trash, but this sweater is way too special for that, and it was only in the seam, so I just stopped wearing it until I could fix it.

Of course I lost the extra thread that came with the sweater, but instead I used one ply of this sock yarn - I figured that since the sweater is cashmere, wool yarn would be more suitable than cotton embroidery thread, which was the only other remotely matching yarn/thread I have. The repair is far from invisible, but it's pretty good, and it'll be hidden under my arm, so I'm happy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No picture today

When I ran out the door this morning, I didn't think to grab the stitch dictionary so I could start the other side of the tea cosy. So I just ripped out the two rows I had done, knit one row plain, and put it on hold.

In other news, my mom started a knitting blog, too! It's Will Knit Mindfully.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My church's fall fundraiser/auction was on Saturday night. I donated two things - a pair of custom hand-knit socks, and a flannel rag quilt baby blanket. I spent a good part of a weekend cutting flannel squares, matching them up, and stitching them together to get this:
Then over the next week I clipped the huge (1 inch) seam allowances into little fringes. Then I washed it. The point of a quilt like this is that the fringes will soften as it is washed and loved into fuzzy ridges. It gives of a LOT of lint and little threads in the process. After I machine dried it, I removed an inch-thick layer of lint from the dryer's lint catcher, and we are still finding little flannel threads around the apartment. I think it turned out well. Here's a picture of the blanket finished, folded, and ready to be dropped off at the church. You can see the back, which is smooth. I think it turned out well, but I didn't do such a good job of matching the corners. My favorite fabric is the little birds.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alpaca sweater - Mom's project

My mom is visiting us this weekend, so in her honor I am posting one of her projects (that happens to be in my possession). My Mom knitted this sweater for my dad at least 20 years ago. It is a lovely soft and drapey alpaca (if a little itchy), and it is very warm and cosy. It has probably been about ten years since my dad last fitted into the sweater, so I've taken possession of it. When I was in college, my roommate Lisa also had a sweater that her mother had knitted for her father, so we wore our hand-me-down sweaters around the dorm in the cold winter.

My mom says that she was very allergic to the yarn while she was knitting it - she had to take antihistamines whenever she worked on it. It's really not my colors (definitely my dad's colors) but I really like the stripes and cables, and how the cables go over the stripes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I finished one side of the outside of the tea cosy in CMS and Colloquium yesterday. It wasn't much fun - both talks went completely over my head (I wasn't even following the first five minutes) and the waffle stitch pattern you see in the picture is pretty fiddly. I guess I've been spoiled by knitting so many socks and things that are nice lace, ribs, and nice knit/purl textures. This involved knitting into the stitch in the previous row, dropping one of the loops, and then picking it up again on the following row. Not so much fun. I chose the pattern because of its name - waffles are my favorite breakfast food, and I want the tea cosy to be breakfast-themed. My stitch dictionary, Super Stitches Knitting, doesn't really have any other breakfast-relevant patterns, so for the other side I picked one that looked pretty nice - clam stitch. I got through about two rows of the pattern by the end of colloquium, but it is even more fiddly than the waffle pattern, so I think I'm going to rip it out and pick a different pattern. Maybe one with leaves, to represent tea leaves.

Monday, October 31, 2011

CMS/Colloquium - Socks finished!

I finished Taylor's socks just at the end of colloquium on Thursday, but she had to run off right after and I didn't want to let her take them or post until I had a picture of her wearing them. So I gave them to her at our TV last night, and took this picture of her wearing them and one of my feet in my handknit Koigu socks. Lovely and cosy!

My next CMS/Colloquium project is going to be this tea cosy. I started it last summer and was thinking about it for quite a while before that, but I have so many other projects that it hasn't been worked on much. And it may not get worked on much now - I donated a pair of custom hand-knit socks to my church's auction again this year, so as soon as I find out who buys them (hopefully next week) I will probably have to start knitting like a maniac on them, since I promised in the listing that they could be done by Christmas.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I'm working my way down the foot! I think there is a possibility that it will be done next week, but for sure the following week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fingerless mitts from my handspun!

I finally got around to finishing the yarn I was spinning on my birthday (except for a bit of singles that I still need to ply). I put it on the niddy-noddy and washed it in Eucalan ...
... then hung it in the shower to dry.
The yarn looked pretty balanced when it was hanging on the hanger, but when I went to wind it into a ball, it seemed woefully underplied in a lot of places. I'm really not sure what is up with that, but I guess when I ply the rest, I'll try to put a bit more twist in it. Maybe it means my singles didn't have enough twist?

Whatever the cause, I'm not that worried about it. I'm a new spinner, so hopefully I'll get the hang of things as I do more spinning. I decided to use the yarn to make fingerless mitts to wear during symphony rehearsals. The hall we rehearse in is absolutely freezing cold, and I feel like I need something to keep my hands warm. I'm kind of making the pattern up as I go along, since I didn't really know what my gauge would be, and I didn't love any of the patterns I saw online for handspun mitts. Here's the first cuff:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

The heel is turned, and the gusset is finished! I think this will be finished in the next three weeks, and then Taylor can wear her new socks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Last week's CMS knitting

Last week there was no colloquium, but this is what I got done in CMS. I'm more than half way through the heel flap!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Adventures with Rudy - and a recipe!

Robert and I spent last weekend taking care of this wonderful, sweet, and energetic dog. Rudy's owner, Taylor (who is one of my office mates) was at a conference, so we stayed at her apartment and walked and fed and played with Rudy.

We almost always have a "special" breakfast on Saturday mornings - usually it's pancakes from Robert's mom's recipe (which I veganized with a flax egg and soy "buttermilk") or vegan french toast with our own home-made breadmaker bread (Robert puts pecan bits in the bread to make it extra delicious). So I brought the more unusual pancake ingredients with to Taylor's place, but to my great surprise, the only flours she had were whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten! So here is Robert's mom Lynn's oatmeal-buttermilk pancake recipe, adapted to be vegan and whole wheat, and scaled for two people:
1 1/4 cups "soy buttermilk" - a splash of white vinegar to cover the bottom of the measuring cup, and then the rest filled up with soymilk
1/2 cup oats - not the quick-cooking kind
1 flax egg - 1 Tbs flax seeds ground up and mixed with some warm water
2 Tbs canola oil
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbs vital wheat gluten (this keeps the pancakes from being too whole-wheat heavy and dense. Don't leave it out)
2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
a few dashes of cinnamon

  1. Mix the soy buttermilk and oats and let them sit for 10 minutes or so. Then add the flax egg and oil.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-small mixing bowl, and whisk them together to mix.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. I always have to add a few extra splashes of soymilk to the batter at this point to make it the right consistency. Even so, the batter should be pretty thick.
  4. Fry up the pancakes. I usually scoop the batter using a 1/4 cup measure. (Lynn's recipe recommends using a 1/3 cup measure for this, but I like to have more pancakes, even if they're smaller.)
  5. Serve with margarine and real maple syrup!
The whole wheat version was a success! They were fluffy, not heavy, and they had a nice nutty kind of whole wheat flavor.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Two weeks of CMS/Colloquium knitting

This is Taylor's second sock at the end of colloquium last week. Here it was at the end of colloquium yesterday:
I am almost done with the leg! Next week I should be able to post a heel picture.

Yesterday's colloquium was super cool, because the speaker talked about work that one of my undergraduate professors did. Also about trees and flowers and forests and gardens.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I finished the first sock today! Taylor tried it on the moment it was finished, and it fits and looks lovely on her. I immediately cast on the second sock. I'm estimating that it will take me 5 or 6 more weeks to finish the second sock: two for the leg, one for the heel, and two or three for the gusset, foot, and toe.
These are the first pictures I'm posting from my new camera. My old camera, aside from being very old (only 5 megapixels, compared to the new one's 16!), developed the nasty habit of not opening the lens cover fully when it powered on. This led to several blacked-out pictures on my summer vacation and a lot of annoyance at needing to poke the thing open with my fingernail every time I wanted to take a picture. But one thing I really loved about my old camera was the fact that it uses AA batteries. I know opinions are strongly divided on this subject, but being able to carry and acquire extra batteries easily is really important to me, especially when I'm traveling. When I started looking at new cameras online, I had a hard time finding many options that use AA batteries, so when I saw a few options on sale in my price range last week that used them, I got one. So far I'm very happy with it.

In other news, the baby recipient of the receiving blanket I made this summer was born this week! Her mom sent me two very sweet and adorable photos of her all swaddled up in her blanket. She is a beautiful baby!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

 The sock fits Taylor!  However, last week I knitted the foot length to fit me (shoe size 10.5) and Taylor wears a size 6, so I spent most of CMS and Colloquium on Thursday tinking.  But once I got back far enough, I did have time to re-start the toe.  Next week the first sock will be done!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I knitted away on my sock in CMS and Colloquium on Thursday. I even started the toe! And then I tried it on, to check the foot length, and it doesn't fit at all. The cuff is too narrow to go around my heel. My friend Taylor likes this sock a lot, and her feet are much smaller than mine, so if it fits her I am going to give the socks to her. But first I will need to undo the toe work I did Thursday and about an inch of the foot, so the socks won't be way too long for Taylor.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My new tote bag

(somehow the picture got turned sideways when I uploaded it. I'm not sure how to fix this)
I bought exactly one souvenir (not counting a pair of new sandals) in Italy this summer. It was this tote bag, which I bought at the Vatican Museums gift shop. It shows a fresco from my very favorite room in the Vatican - the map room. It's a long narrow room with frescoes of maps of the Church's holdings as of the 16th century, plus one of ancient Italy. It's that one that's on the bag.

The only problem with the bag is that it is unlined. I would like to use it kind of like a purse, so my plan is to put in a lining with some pockets and some sort of closure mechanism at the top. I don't think this will be difficult, but it is not at the top of my priority list right now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Heirloom tablecloth

My Aunt Inge, who lives in Denmark, is an incredibly accomplished embroiderer. She used to be a sample-embroiderer for a large and well-known Danish embroidery store, and she has made many baby gifts, wall-hangings, and even needle-pointed upholstery for an antique chair that she and my uncle have!

When my dad and I were visiting with her and my uncle Joergen this past July, I was working on a cross-stitch project, and they started to show me many of the things she had made for their house. Inge showed me this table-cloth she started many many years ago when she was expecting her older daughter (who is now herself a grandmother). It had languished, nearly finished, in her cabinet for at least the last 20 years, and she couldn't finish it because her eyesight is no longer good enough.

Since none of her daughters or granddaughters do much hand-work, Inge gave me the table-cloth and the eight (finished) matching napkins, on the condition that I finish it.

The only part left to finish is the little squares inside the little boxes in the large center motif. Here you can see the ones that are done:
There is also a small stretch of hemming to be done, but that is mostly finished. The hem has a nice little decorative zig-zag.

So on Friday I went and bought some more white thread. Luckily it is DMC thread, so even so many years later I can still get more. As soon as I am finished with my super-secret time-sensitive cross-stitch project, I will finish the table-cloth!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Colloquium socks

Yesterday was the first colloquium of the year. I worked on the purple-y sock I started this summer. Soon I will be done with the foot! Next week, CMS returns, too. Yesterday we just had an organizational meeting, so I didn't bring my knitting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

UFO: Tea Cosy

This is a relatively new unfinished object - I started it at the beginning of the summer, before we left on our trip. I've been wanting to make a tea cosy for my lovely china teapot, and I chose the pattern from the One Skein Wonder book. I made a tea cosy from this pattern a few years ago as a gift, and it turned out well. This time, I'm changing the stitch pattern for the sides. The pattern just uses a plain double moss stitch, but I decided that since I drink tea with breakfast, I wanted a breakfast -themed tea cosy, so the the side I've already started is waffle stitch, which I found in the Super Stitches Knitting stitch dictionary. This is currently my at-home knitting project, but I have a few embroidery projects that have higher finishing priority, so I don't know how long it will be before I finish it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby blanket finished!

Today I am sitting at home hoping that our air conditioner will be fixed. Even for me, 90 degrees and humid inside is a bit much. Robert was fairly miserable yesterday afternoon and last night. Luckily, I don't have class until four today, so it wasn't much trouble to be at home and wait for maintenance people. The upside of being stuck at home is that I was able to finish this cute little receiving blanket for my dad's office manager. She and her husband are expecting a baby girl the first week of September.

I followed this tutorial from Sewchic. I saw this adorable flannel on sale at JoAnn a few months ago, so I bought the supplies for the blanket (it only takes a yard of fabric) and waited until I encountered a suitable recipient. When I got home from my travels, I started the blanket. It was quite easy and fast. I am thinking of making a few more to donate to my church's fall auction fundraiser, but first I have several other projects which need finishing (more posts about those objects coming up soon!)

Here is a close-up of the picot loops, or "pudbumps," as Robert has dubbed them:

Friday, August 12, 2011


I have returned from my travels! I actually got back a week ago, but now I am over my jet lag and fully back in the swing of studying. I didn't do a ton of knitting while I was on vacation, but I did some in the car on our road trip around the western states, some on planes, and some while I was visiting with my grandparents in Denmark. I love to talk about handwork with my grandmother - she and her mother were both very accomplished needle-workers, and she has many beautiful tablecloths and bedlinens made in a wide variety of crochet, embroidery, and lace types. My grandmother always asks about my knitting and other handwork, and if I'm lucky, she also tells me about things she made when she was a girl and a young woman - for example, from a very young age, her father purchased from her the handknit socks she made for all of the members of her family. She told me about one pair of socks she made, from yarn she got by ripping out a skirt she had previously knitted for herself and dyed bright red. She said the first time the socks were worn (and I unfortunately don't remember who she said she made them for), the wearer's feet and ankles turned bright red from the dye!

Before I flew to Europe, Robert and I stopped for a day in Yellowstone on our way to visit various people in our families. We saw a lot of really amazing things, including buffalo!
Here we are standing in front of one of the hot springs. It's not entirely clear in the picture, but the water was a bright clear turquoise color, the steam rising off of it was green and blue and red, and the whole thing was surrounded by great colonies of bright orange thermophilic bacteria!
And, I did make it to the Vatican, where I wore my Vatican skirt! Here I am in a courtyard in the Vatican museums:
We/I had a lovely trip, and I acquired a special new project that I will post about soon. I also have several new and newish other UFOs to add in the coming days.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Skirt to wear to the Vatican

Many weeks ago, not long after I finished the two brown skirts, I started thinking about making a peasant skirt. I looked at a few web tutorials and decided to do just a simple elastic waist, and I figured I wouldn't need a pattern. I went and shopped a sale at JoAnn for the fabric, elastic for the waist, and a pretty lace trim to go around the bottom edge.

Since I wasn't using a pattern, I went a head and did a back of the envelope calculation, as they say on the Frontiers of Science (David Helfand would be so proud). Here is my schematic drawing showing the way the tiers would expand:
Fast forward a goodly number of weeks to last Monday night, and I've gotten all of the pieces cut out, the waist casing done, and all but the bottom two seams sewn. When I tried the skirt on, it didn't fit right. I'd pictured kind of a drop waist sort of first tier beginning with the waistband, but that put the first seam right at the widest part of my hips. It fit, but it wasn't at all flattering. Luckily, it was also clear that the skirt was a lot longer than I'd pictured. Where I had expected the hem to fall just a tad below my knees, it was on track to be mid-calf length. So I chopped off about four inches from the top, and resewed the casing.

Another problem appeared when I went to sew the hem. I had only bought 2 yards of lace trim, when it turned out that I needed 2 1/2 yards. So I had to put the skirt on hold until I could get back to JoAnn to buy new lace.
When I make this skirt again, I'll make it a little bit shorter - probably by making each of the lower three tiers an inch or an inch and a half shorter. As Robert said, this skirt makes me look like I'm trying to be modest. That's exactly the image I want to project when I visit the Vatican when I go to Rome in a few weeks, but my general style is for skirts that are closer to knee-length.