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.
Soscrppy

Monday, 21 July 2014

lest you think I no longer sew

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How much yarn is too much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  2014 synthetics 2

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

 2014 synthetics

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

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

 2014 mostly socks

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

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

2014 wools with sock yarn on the side

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

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

2014 collection minus grab bags

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

labelled grab bags

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

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

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

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!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Yes, I do knit, why do you ask?

It’s hard to believe this started life as a knitting blog. I dare not even check when I last mentioned knitting on these pages, let alone talked about something I made myself.

But there are a couple of “advantages” in being too ill to do much. The greatest advantage, of course, is quiet time. And quiet time, for me, means reading and knitting.

My last post talked about my reading so I’m here to talk about knitting!

Yes, you know, sticks (albeit very short sticks joined by a plastic cable) and yarn.

On Christmas Eve, in response to the horrific bushfires (not far from here) that destroyed 200 homes and damaged at least another 200, I began another knitted blanket. I quite often have a knitted blanket on the go – there are many charities that will take them, especially at this time of year. The blankets most often called for around here are 70” x 40” so I chose to design my own. It is inspired by the Moderne Baby Blanket (Ravelry link) from Mason-Dixon Knitting (Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner) which I had just finished a few weeks before. I particularly like the two rows of white yarn I have used to do the first part of each section.

2014 Nouveau Blanket

The knitting is finished but I have lots of ends to sew in. There’s also a safety pin hanging from the large brown section to the right where I dropped a stitch more than 40 rows back and didn't notice. I will use a crochet hook to deal with that! when I crochet a border around the whole thing. I tried to use yarn from my stash to complete this blanket, hence the different shades of brown and green. Speaking of green, the colour here is way off: the green across the top is bottle green; the other green is a deep forest green! I tried to adjust the colour but this is the best I could get.

In retrospect, I don’t think I would cast off each section then pick up the stitches on the next round – I think I’d leave the stitches live on some waste yarn (or a spare “cable”). For some reason, my blanket won’t lie flat – I think it’s a combination of tension problems (caused by casting off then picking up the stitches) and using different brands of DK weight acrylic yarn – they all knit up to a different gauge even though they’re supposed to be the same ‘weight’. Fortunately, bodies are not flat so blankets with a bit of ”curvature” aren’t too much of a drama and I may be able to block it (if it bothers me too much – all that mucking around with the steam iron to block acrylic is not my favourite activity!)

I have also knitted a very basic beanie – it’s DK weight (tencel/acrylic) yarn knitted on 4mm needles using 120 stitches – it will fit somebody with a very big head (you can see that it is way too big for me)! What was I thinking when I cast on? The tencel blend (now discontinued Moda Vera “Jaclyn”) is such a soft yarn; I’m sure the new owner will find it warm and comfortable! The colour should be cream not the soft grey shown here; what is it with taking photos outside on a sunny Sydney winter’s day?

2014 Basic Beanie 

Although I gave some yarn away before we moved, the amount of yarn that moved with us had shocked me and goaded me into some knitting action’', even before I got sick. While I was away at my mother’s, I worked on and almost completed the first of two scarves; the second I finished last night. Both are knitted in a (now discontinued) DK weight, 50% tencel/acrylic blend (Moda Vera “Cynthia”), in a simple, slipped-stitch pattern on a garter-stitch base making them quick to knit, and ideal for conversation, listening to audio books or watching television in low-light levels.

I knew three 50g balls of black yarn wasn't enough to knit a scarf but I wasn’t sure how far one ball would go so I started with a provisional cast on and knitted one ball. This resulted in 152 rows, so I then planned 30-row stripes from the remaining two balls plus the two balls of ‘forest’ green I also had in stash. The result is a scarf of a good length and the combination could be worn by either a man or a woman. Come to think of it, I’m sure I saw it around a certain man’s neck on Saturday when he realised he was coming down with something (which the doctor confirmed yesterday was likely to be bronchitis!).

2014 Simple Scarf I a  2014 Simple Scarf I c 2014 Simple Scarf 2

The black and green scarf was knitted on 41 stitches using nearly 250g of yarn and came out at 7.5” x 75”. I had only 200g of grey yarn but still wanted a scarf of a reasonable length so made it slightly narrower – 37 stitches. The resulting scarf is 6” x 70”.

Unfortunately, that is almost the end of my stash of Moda Vera “Cynthia”; I have just six balls of ‘brown’ and one ball of a “natural mix” left; plus some leftover from the green and black scarf. I say unfortunately because it was a lovely soft yarn, both on my hands while knitting and in the final product. I still have several balls of Moda Vera Jaclyn (same DK weight, 50% tencel/acrylic blend) but I’m not overly fond of the boring cream colour. I think I’ll wait until summer and see how it takes dye; it’s not like I have no yarn to work with in the meantime! Meanwhile, the boring cream will be used as a background for a stranded colour-work hat using the leftover green, black and a small amount of the brown.

In case you’re wondering why I have to wait for summer (apart from the fact that downstairs is not completely unpacked and sorted yet), my “dyeing studio” is in a room under the house – it’s freezing down there in winter, it’s like a cool room without the need for electricity! No wonder the previous owner used some of the area down there as a cellar!

In sewing news, I’ve had a huge hiccough in my progress with the Country Houses quilt which was (but, sadly is no longer) on track to be finished by the end of the month. There’ll be a post about it soon; but right now I’m off to cast on for that stranded colour-work hat!

What are you working on at the moment?

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