Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last CMS/Colloquium of the semester!

 The last CMS and Colloquium of the semester was almost two weeks ago now, but I've been so busy since then that I didn't manage to post!  Here's what it looked like before, and the photo below is after.  I'm almost done with it now - I just need to do the button bands.  I'm hoping the buttons I bought will work.  They're really cute, but they're half inch buttons (the recipe called for three-eighths-inch ones, but there just wasn't a great selection in the store in that size, and none of them were appropriately colored).  I'd like to finish it very soon and get it in the mail - I missed my last chance to give it in person last Saturday, but between going to a conference, getting stranded an extra day in Atlanta, and grading final exams I just haven't managed to get it done.  But now my semester is over so I can do it!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mending day

Last Saturday, I did some mending that I've been meaning to do for quite a while.  I started with Robert's kindle cover, which I originally made with a black hair tie as the closure loop,  Sewing through it didn't do the hair band much good, and the inner rubber band broke almost immediately.  I ripped out the hair tie, made a narrow fabric loop, and stitched that in.  The stitching isn't as pretty as it was before, but it's much more functional. 

Then I machine darned a hole in the sleeve of one of my hiking shirts.  I happened to have just the right color thread, and it turned out to be very easy.  I also stitched up a hole in the seam of my bright pink long-sleeved t-shirt, something I've been meaning to do since the second time I wore it.  The hole was a manufacturing defect - the edge of the fabric somehow didn't get caught in the seam.

I also felted a little flower over a hole in my striped cashmere sweater.  Still left to be mended is one of my pink socks, which unfortunately has a manufacturing defect - somehow I left a live stitch in the lace pattern. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting - cardigan: take two

I did not do all of this in CMS and colloquium on Thursday.  I frogged and restarted over the weekend, and I had already done most of the raglan increases before I got to school on Thursday.  I divided the sleeves and knitted most of the body.  Next up is the colorwork band, and then the hem and sleeves!  It's coming along nicely, and I don't think it's going to be too big.  I'm glad I started over with the larger size. 

A funny coincidence: notice that there isn't a tail to a ball of yarn in the picture.  I came to the end of the first skein just as the colloquium speaker was wrapping up his talk!

Friday, November 15, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting: in which I magic-loop with a 16" needle and then frog.

I worked on the Trieste cardigan for my niece in CMS and colloquium yesterday afternoon.  Somehow it didn't enter my mind that the circumference of a baby cardigan would be too small for a 16" circular needle.  I felt a bit stupid, but the magic looping worked okay, and by the end of colloquium the work was large enough to stretch around and knit normally.

Here's the good news:
I'm so excited about the steek!  I am pleasantly surprised at the way the columns of twisted stitches mark it off (you can see this clearly in the top photo).  Also, my gauge is right on (6.5 stitches/inch and 9 rows/inch - the called-for gauge is 26 stitches and 35 rows per 4").

Now comes the bad news:
The picot hem at the collar just does not look good.  The pattern said to work 6 rows stockinette, then the picot row, then 5 rows stockinette, then the knitting together.  The 5 rows and 6 rows do not match up, so the picot row is a bit toward the outside, not right at the fold.  In real life, it looks way worse than in this photo:
So that's why I'm frogging it.  I think the fix is to start with 5 rows stockinette, beginning with a purl row, then the picot row and then on with the pattern as written. But now that I'm starting over anyway,  I'm second-guessing the sizing, too.  I'm thinking the 3-month size might be too small for my niece to wear this winter.  She'll be 3 months old in mid-December, and according to the Craft Yarn Council of America website, even a 3-month baby sweater should be larger than the 3-month size of this pattern.

So the long and short is, I'm pretty sure I'm starting over with the 6-month size.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New projects!

I made a Knitpicks order last week, and it arrived on Saturday evening!  I'm so excited for these new projects.  The first one, on the bottom right, is yarn for the Trieste Cardigan from the Fall 2013 issue of Interweave Knits.  It will be a Christmas gift for my niece.  On the bottom left are two skeins of Palette to make these mittens.  I was really tempted by this kit, but I talked myself out of it.  I figure that it's not cold enough here to really need even one pair of mittens, and by the time I knit six pairs in a row I would probably be bored out of my mind.  But they are oh so beautiful ... I'm keeping it in mind for the future.  I can always knit them one pair at a time and give them away as gifts if I order it in the future.  The third project is the Lofoten pullover kit.  I'm really excited to knit it.  All three of these projects have colorwork, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and the two sweaters even have steeks ! (eeek!)  I'm a bit scared, but I'm excited to see it work. 

I've already started the Trieste cardigan!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting - a new project!

Somehow I managed to leave my sock knitting bag at church last Sunday, so I couldn't work on my Deflect socks in CMS and colloquium this week.  Naturally, that meant I had to start a new project (really, what it probably means is that I should air out some of my old UFOs that are in a bin with mothballs, but that wasn't going to happen this week).  I've had in my mind that it would be nice to use the leftover yarn from my not-wedding shrug (I used less than half of what I ordered for it) to make a lace shawl.  I got out my copy of Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia and chose the Lilac Leaf Shawl.  It is rectangular, which is what I had in mind, and it uses about the right amount of yarn.  Hopefully it will use up what I've got.  Mine will look a bit different, since my yarn is a light fingering weight instead of the lace weight the pattern calls for, but it should be lovely.

Already it's coming along nicely.  I'm happy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My second quilt - finally finished!

I started this quilt when I was in middle school - sixth grade, I think.  My mom and I were in a mother-daughter quilting group affiliated with our local guild.  I designed it myself by drawing it out on graph paper.  I chose the fabrics, and my mom helped with lots and lots of pinning.  Then for some reason, when the top was mostly done, I/we ran out of steam, the quilting group disbanded, and it sat in a box in my closet until I was finishing high school. 
I rediscovered it, finished the top, and quilted it using invisible thread in the top and blue to match the backing in the bobbin.  I used a walking foot to quilt a diagonal grid, following the diagonal four-patch lines. I used masking tape to guide my stitching, which I won't do again.  I wasn't super good about following the lines, and in several places I accidentally stitched on top of the edge of the tape instead of next to it.  There are still some places where the masking tape won't come out from under the quilting stitches, and some other places where it did come out in the wash, but the white fabric is stained from where the tape was stuck for so many years. I also stitched in the ditch around the border.  I hand-stitched the binding to the back during my first semester of college, and then it went back in a pillowcase for several more years (although I did pull it out to put on my bed in the winters when it was cold and I needed an extra quilt).  I wasn't sure what to do with the loose thread ends from quilting, so it just languished.

Last month, I finally got it out and knotted/hid/trimmed all of the thread ends (there were many).  Then it sat for another week or two waiting for a trip though the washing machine and dryer, and then for another week waiting for photographs.  But now it is done!

It is a small twin size - it pretty much exactly covers the top surface of our double bed.  I'm not sure what we'll do with it, since we don't have any twin beds.  Probably we'll just store it and maybe occasionally take it out when the weather is extra cold and extra quilts are necessary.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CMS knitting

I finished the gusset and started on the foot of my first Deflect sock in CMS on Thursday.  I really like how this is turning out, but I've been reading ahead and I'm not sure the toe shaping instructions in the pattern are quite right.  I need to think about this and see if there are any errata to the pattern (the issue is that the rib pattern established by the cable on the foot is supposed to continue into the toe and get eaten up by the toe shaping.  The way the pattern is written, there will be three stitches between the decreases on the left side (rather than the customary two, as it is on the other side) and one of them is a purl.  I don't see how this will work out when I get to the kitchener stage.  It will be asymmetric, not to mention with a random line of purl stitches!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mini-quilt wedding gift

 My father-in-law got married, not this weekend that just ended, but the one before.  Robert and I wanted to make a nice gift for him and his now-wife because we think they are really awesome and wanted to commemorate their marriage (and what can you buy for parents - they are a firmly established household and could buy anything they needed or really wanted).  We decided on a cute mini-quilt (my part of it) with a lovely kolrose-d stand (Robert's part) similar to the one Robert made for our wedding cake topper.

I followed this tutorial at Two More Seconds for the heart applique, but made it a lot smaller.  Most of the fabrics are from a warm scrap pack I got on sale from Hawthorne Threads a few months ago, and a few are leftovers from other projects.    I embroidered their wedding date by hand before I sandwiched and (minimally) quilted it.

Here's the stand.  There are two narrow vertical sleeves on the back of the quilt to put over dowels that go in the holes of the stand.  The T and A are in blackboard bold (a mathy font - both my father-in-law and his wife are math professors), which fit perfectly because the theme of the wedding was "Nerd love"!
I didn't finish the binding on the quilt until the morning of the wedding and in my excitement to get it wrapped up I forgot to take pictures of the finished product ... maybe I'll get some the next time we visit ... or maybe I'll forget ...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I'm zipping along on my first Deflect sock.  I'm almost finished with the gusset.  Somehow I didn't notice when I chose the pattern that it has non-traditional shaping on the gusset.  All of the stitches decrease into (both sides of) the cable panel on one side of the foot.  It was a nice surprise, but for a few minutes I was pretty confused about how the gusset decreases were supposed to work out!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Machine-embroidered cloth napkins

My mom moved to start graduate school and celebrated her birthday in August, and I had a super idea for a birthday/housewarming gift for her: cloth napkins!  I got the idea from napkins my sister-in-law made when she first got her embroidery machine.  The designs are from urbanthreads.com.  I used the fancy embroidery machine that Robert's grandma sent me last spring, and they turned out super well.  I bought off-white home-dec weight fabric, cut 19" squares, embroidered the designs (four of each design) in one corner of each square, and used this tutorial from Sew Bon to do a narrow mitered corner hem.  Of course I didn't start the project until a week or so before my mom's birthday and it took way longer than I thought it would, so I didn't get them finished and mailed until half way through September, but of course my mom loved them anyway!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Three weeks of CMS/Colloquium knitting!

 I finished the second cuff on my shrug (it took two weeks of CMS and colloquium) in last week's colloquium.  Now I just need to graft the stitches together, weave in all the ends, and block it!

Last weekend, I flew to Arizona to hike in the Grand Canyon and camp in the National Forest with two of my best friends.  We had a great time, and I started a new pair of socks on the plane.  The pattern is Deflect, from Knitty.  Here's how much I got done on the trip:
 And here's how the first sock looks after CMS and Colloquium yesterday:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Colloquium knitting

I gave the talk in CMS on Thursday, so I only knitted in colloquium.  I finished and grafted together the first cuff (but didn't weave in any ends).  Then I just barely got started on the second cuff.  I think it looks good, but those cuffs are definitely going to need blocking!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baby bibs!

 Robert and I have a brand new niece.  She is adorable and sweet and squeaks when she sleeps.  I made a half dozen bibs for her using this tutorial.  They have quilting cotton on one side and terry cloth on the other, and they were very easy to make (and used almost no fabric - I bought 5/8 yard of terry cloth and had enough left over to make at least 3 or 4 more).  The most exciting part was putting on the snaps.  I was going to use velcro instead, but then I though it might scratch the baby or get stuck things, and I figured the snap attaching tool might come in handy in the future.  The snaps were easy to put in with the tool, and I'm already thinking of other things I could make that could benefit from snap closures!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I had the right supplies with me on Thursday to do a crochet provisional cast-on, so I started the edging on one sleeve of my shrug.  It took me a little while to figure out how to position my work to get it "knitted on" to the edge of the sleeve correctly - I really wanted to do it without breaking thread, but in the end I concluded that I couldn't.

I got about 2/3 of the way around one sleeve on Thursday, and worked on it a bit more between services at church this morning (the picture above is from before church).  I think it will take me about two more weeks to finish the shrug, and then I'll have to figure out what to knit next!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

CMS knitting

I finished everything except the sleeve edging and weaving in ends in CMS on Thursday.  I forgot that the edging requires a crochet provisional cast-on, so I didn't bring waste yarn or a crochet hook and couldn't start the edging. 

I tried it on on Thursday morning.  The sleeves are just past my elbows, so with a 3-3.5" edging on them, I think they will come out to be a perfect 3/4 length.  The only problem is that the opening between the two sleeves is a little bit short.  I needed help getting it off after I tried it on.  Hopefully it will be easier to get on after everything is finished and I feel a bit better about pulling on the ends of the sleeves (and with practice I will figure out how to get it off on my own).  I'm sort of tempted to put a crochet edging around the opening, to make it a bit sturdier, since it being a bit too small will put more stress on the edge when I put in on/wear it/take it off, but I'm a bit worried about making the opening even smaller.  I'll have ot see how it fits when it's done (maybe even after blocking) before I decide.

This is my only active knitting project right now.  I also have my mitered square blanket with tofutsies leftovers, but that one is on the long-term back burner.  I'm looking forward to starting another knitting project when the shrug is done.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

CMS/Colloquium knitting

 I finished my leaf socks in CMS this past week!  They turned out pretty well, except that the second one is slightly bigger than the first one.  It's been many months since I started the first sock, and I seem to be knitting more loosely these days. 
 The yarn for these socks is Spud and Chloe Fine, which is 80% superwash wool and 20% silk.  It has a lovely texture and sheen, and it comes in very generous 65 gram skeins (although at $11/skein, it costs more than I usually like to spend on sock yarn).  I started with two skeins and still have most of one left.  I would love to make more socks in different colorways and then use the leftovers for an afghan or baby blanket.

In colloquium, I worked on my not-wedding shrug.  It's coming along nicely.  I think I'm almost done with the sleeves - I need to try it on before next Thursday.  I'm still not sure how long I want the sleeves to be, but after they're done all I have to do is knit on the wide knitted-on lace edging and weave in the ends!  I'm also expecting to have quite a bit of yarn leftover from this project, so I'll have to think of something to do with the extra (something worthy of this incredibly luxurious yarn).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jelly Roll Race Quilt Finished!

 I finished my Jelly Roll Race quilt!  I love how it turned out.  I bound it with a navy blue semi-solid from my local quilt shop, and it does a pretty good job of containing all of the crazy colors in this quilt in the binding frame.  (I wanted to put an orange binding on, but if I had it would have been banned from our living room, so I went with blue instead.) 

The jelly roll and the backing are Cuzco by Kate Spain for Moda.  I quilted it with one big spiral using variegated thread.  Now it's on my couch, perfect for keeping warm while watching TV!

Friday, August 30, 2013

CMS & Colloquium in the new semester!

Today was the first CMS and Colloquium of the Fall semester.  I finished the baby blanket pieces while Robert and I were traveling this summer (but never managed to take and post a picture), so I'm back to working on my blue leaf socks.  I did work on this (the second sock) some this summer, but the most recent photo I can find is from all the way back in January.

Next week for sure I'll finish this sock, and since it's the second one, I'll have to decide whether to start a new pair of socks or work on my lace shrug ...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bigger, better buttercup bag

Earlier this week I finished making my second buttercup bag.  This one is larger and has a zip closure, an inside zipped pocket, and two elasticized inside pockets.  I love it!  It is large enough to hold everything I need on a daily basis (wallet, sunglasses, pencil case, ipod, home and work keys, phone, chapstick, and advil) PLUS my Kindle in its case, and zip closed all at the same time.  Plus all of the pockets make it easy to find what I need.
The buttercup bag pattern is from Made by Rae here.  I used the small free version and enlarged the pattern pieces to 130%.  (I made the smaller original version exactly as written in the pattern here.)  I used this tutorial for the zippered closure.  There are a bunch of tutorials for the inside zip pocket out in blogland, and I just winged the elastic pockets.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Miniature herb garden

Two of our friends had a housewarming party on Saturday evening.  Robert and I decided to make a little indoor herb garden for them.  We picked out a strawberry pot, four different kinds of seeds (thyme, oregano, cilantro, and parsley), and a decorative pepper plant to put in the top.

It wasn't the right season to get seedlings, or that would have been our first choice, but Robert planted one kind of seed in each side hole in the pot, and we made little stakes to label which seeds went where.

We hope all of the seeds sprout!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A visit from Mom

 My mom visited this past weekend.  We went on a nature walk ...
... and we carried on our little tradition of each piecing a quilt top when she visits.  We each started a half square triangle quilt inspired by one we saw in a shop at the International Quilt Festival last November.  Each quilt is made from two charm packs and some grey solid yardage.  The trimming of all of the HSTs took FOREVER.
 But we eventually finished and laid out my quilt ...
 ... and my mom's.
I think they both look better in person than in the photos.  We ran out of time to sew the tops together, but I'm so excited about my quilt!  I admired the Half Moon Modern fabric for a long time online before I snatched up my two charm packs at the quilt festival, and I've been anticipating making the quilt ever since.  I got the first five (of fifteen) rows sewn together, and it looks great!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A purse and a skirt!

 At the beginning of the summer (around this time) I started feeling like I had too many projects and too much stuff and I made an intention to work through my UFO list and get some stuff finished.  My loose plan was that I should finish two projects for every one I started.  Since then, I have not finished a single thing on my UFO list, but I have started and finished the Lone Star baby quilt for my soon-to-be-niece, the Kindle case for Robert's birthday, this little purse, and the navy skirt at the bottom of this post.  I've also started a larger version of the purse because this one is too small.  As you can see in the picture below, it is overfull with my wallet, ipod, keys, chapstick, phone, and my university wallet/keychain.  With these things in it, it will not close, and I also need it to fit my sunglasses. 
 The purse is the Buttercup Bag from Made by Rae.  It's a free pattern, and very cute.  My plan is to use this one for going to the symphony and other date nights, when I don't want to carry a huge bag and don't need to have so many things with me.

I'm planning some significant enhancements on the larger version - a zipper closure, an inside zipped pocket, and one or two inside pockets with elastic on the top.  I'm not quite sure how to explain the elastic pockets, but I've seen in on some tote bag patterns, and I think it's just the thing to make 3-dimensional space inside the pockets and prevent things from falling out of them at the same time. 

Here's my navy skirt.  This has actually been on my future projects list for a while, and I used some really great coupons at Joann to get the fabric and elastic really inexpensively.  The whole skirt (including thread that I didn't have in the right color) was about $10.  I expected the skirt to go together in an hour or two, but as usual everything took longer than I expected.  I put in pockets and tried to use the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine to do the hem.  Even though I practiced on scraps, the hem just didn't turn out.  I need lots more practice before I can use that tool on a garment.  It took quite a while to pick out the rolled hem and re-do it with my usual "turned under twice and topstitched" hem. 
I couldn't get a picture of myself with the skirt on, but here it is.  The elastic is two inches wide and sits (pretty loosely) on my hips.  I probably should have cut the elastic for the waistband about two inches shorter, and I might go back later and do that, but for now I'm too lazy and it works fine the way it is, especially if I wear a longer top over it. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wedding cake topper (& stand!)

When Robert and I got married in April, my mom and a family friend of ours made the cake topper for us - the night before the wedding!  I got the idea for this from one I saw on Etsy, and it turned out really well.  Robert and I decided to save it as a keepsake, and he made a stand for it out of bird's eye maple. 
He used a decorating technique called kolrosing to write our wedding date on it, and finished it with some combination of oils.  Here you can see the gorgeous patterning in the wood.
Here it is on our beautiful wedding cake on our wedding day.  This last photo was taken by our lovely and talented wedding photographer, Alyssa of Dandy As Lions Photography.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Kindle case

 Robert's birthday was just over a month ago, and I had a great idea for a birthday present for him, except that I didn't think of it until the weekend before his birthday, when I was gearing up to start teaching a three-week class and didn't have time to make it.  I finally had time to make it this week, and gave it to him a month late: a case for his Kindle. 

When Robert and I flew out for my mom's graduation last month, his Kindle was just floating around in my backpack with no case to protect it, so I decided that what he needed was a case for it.  I got this fabric in a scrap pack from Hawthorne Threads, and Robert had admired the boy going to outer space with his dog.  Since one of Robert's favorite genres is science fiction, I decided it was a perfect fit for his Kindle.  I mostly followed this tutorial at Live, love, quilt.  I made it to the Kindle's measurements (different from the iPad in the tutorial), decided not to quilt it, and used a hair-tie for the button loop.  I was worried about making the loop the right length, so I wanted to use something stretchy rather than fabric.  I'm mildly concerned about the elastic breaking or stretching out, but if that happens I can always pick apart the top-stitching and replace it. 
Robert seems happy with it, and I am also happy with how it turned out!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lone Star baby quilt

A Lone Star is one of those quilts that I've always sort of wanted to make but always thought that it would be too difficult and way beyond any skill level I could ever hope to attain.  Then I saw this tutorial at Better Off Thread.  It seemed doable, especially in the baby size, and my brother-in-law and his wife happen to be expecting a baby girl in September!  Since we all live in Texas, a lone star seemed like it would be a good quilt pattern for this particular baby, and the tutorial uses 2 1/2" strips - a perfect fit, since I had an extra Simply Color jelly roll lying around!  The baby's nursery is going to be purple and green, so I pulled some purple, green, and grey strips from the jelly roll and went to work.
It was way easier than I expected.  I followed the instructions in the tutorial for matching the diamond points, and it worked perfectly!  Not all of the points are as good as the ones in this photo, but most of them are very close.  I pressed the seams open, marked with a pen where the seams should intersect, pinned them a LOT, and watched very closely to make sure the seams actually went where they were supposed to.  I'm learning to love pinning - it gets such beautiful results!
I decided to use a moon and stars print for the background of the star and for most of the backing.  I initially wanted to use a solid, but I had a hard time finding a solid that I liked to match the colors in the star, so I went with this instead. 
The backing includes a little girl sailboat print.  I married into a sailing family, so I figure there's a good chance that my niece will grow up to love sailing just like her parents, grandmother, and great-grandfather.  I quilted the star and it's narrow border in the ditch and then did a loopy meander on the background.  The tension on the back of the free-motion sections isn't perfect, but it's not so bad and it did get a little bit better when I washed it, so I'm hopeful that it will continue to improve and even out over time as the quilt is loved and washed and dried.  Overall, I think it turned out great!
I hope that my niece and her parents enjoy the quilt as she grows up.  I certainly enjoyed making it, and it has convinced me that I can make a bed-sized lone star in the future!