Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Sweater update

I'm starting to wonder if there should be this many bad thoughts knit into a sweater. I thought that I'd finished this sweater in September and all I had left was the seams and finding the perfect buttons. Since I didn't have the perfect buttons, hate seaming, and had a new sweater waiting I put the pieces in the stash and decided to deal with it later. At the beginning of November I was in a knit shop and found the perfect buttons.

Once I got home I put in the shoulder seams for the sweater and started working the button band. I carefully figured out the placement of the buttons and sewed them on. Then I worked the collar and came down the other side and began making holes. Things were working out great until I approached the bottom of the sweater and noticed my sweater looked like this.

Having watched Pooh when I was younger I knew that Piglets sweater unraveled from the bottom in the Blustery Day scene. I also remembered last year the Yarn Harlot made a similar mistake and unraveled the piece from the bottom rather than undoing the button band, collar, shoulder seam, and 10+inches of knitting. I have enough yarn left over and enough time that if I messed up horribly I could just redo it so I poured a drink and unknotted the end. I waited for the whole thing to unravel like Piglet's sweater. It didn't.

There was a ray of hope in a loose yarn tail that I could pull out stitch by stitch. It was very slow going, but was faster than having to reknit the entire piece. After I got past the ribbing the yarn unraveled like a normal piece of knitting does. When I had frogged to the point where the ribbing stopped on the other side I put the stitches back on my needle, knit the ribbing, and cast off. 

The way this sweater is going I was terrified that there would be some horrible mistake with the sleeves, but those went in smoothly and the sweater is now finished. After Christmas I'll share pictures of the completed sweater. 
(In my research of this technique I learned that the stitches will all be moved half a stitch over so if you're doing something like ribbing you need to undo to the beginning of the ribbing or work a row of decorative stitches to hide the wonkiness.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Butterflies and Pinwheels

It's been a while since I've posted an update on my butterfly quilt. I've been working on it steadily for the past three months and have officially reached the middle of the quilt! My guild has a quilt show in the middle of May every year and I'm hoping to have the quilt finished by then. I might just be able to pull it off.

This quilt is a larger one so it's hard to take a good picture of the whole quilt when it's only half finished. I have three rows of pinwheels quilted in the ditch and two and a half rows of white blocks quilted with a teal flower design.

I can't wait for this quilt to be done and hanging on the back of our couch. It's going to be such a wonderful quilt for those chilly spring evenings.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hobbit Blocks

This weekend I decided I'd finally assemble the Northshore Cardigan. Despite measuring carefully the buttons would not line up with the holes. I finally laid the thing out and realized that the right front is three inches longer than the left front. I know that there's a way to undo knitting from the bottom, but since I don't know how to do that the cardigan is banished into storage again.  I've also been busy working on the Hobbit quilt. The final lay out was announced at the beginning of the month and I'm working to catch up. I still have quite a few more blocks to go, but here's a few more of the new blocks.

It plays more heavily in Lord of the Rings, but I don't think you can do a Hobbit quilt without the ring of power.

The bridge to Rivendell

I think Sting is the most challenging block I've done so far for this quilt. The original design called for a blue tip, but since the entire blade should glow blue I chose to do it all in silver and use a blue background.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Owl Sweater

In March I saw the cutest sweater ever. I knew I had to have it. I headed over to Ravelry and purchased the pattern. That's when the trouble started. I didn't have the yarn recommended but found out that many people made the sweater with Lion Brand Fisherman's Yarn (which happened to be in my stash.) I cast on only to realize I had the wrong size needles. I ripped back and changed to the right size needles and started again. Everything was going great until I realized I'd forgotten to do the shaping for the back. Finally I got everything right and in mid-April finished the main part of the body. Then I realized that I didn't actually know how to do cables or how to attach the sleeves. At this point I was so frustrated with the thing that it got banished to the bottom of the stash for the summer.

As the days began turning cold I decided to bring the owls back. It turns out the sleeves weren't as I difficult as I was making them and the cables for the owls were actually really fun to make. I managed to finish this sweater at the end of October and have finally gotten pictures to share.

Don't you just love those owls?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Halloween, a bit late

Sorry for the long absence. I wish there was a good excuse, but there really isn't. I tried sharing these pictures Halloween weekend, but couldn't get the internet to co-operate enough to upload the pics. (The joys of harvest. No, we don't farm, but the dust in the air pretty much takes out the internet here.) Last February my brother-in-law and his wife made me a very happy aunt. Then in the summer one of my friends from college had a baby girl who I couldn't resist spoiling. I'm determined to win the title of craftiest aunt (even if I'm technically only aunt to one.)

I found this adorable hat on Lion Brand's website a few years ago and have been anxiously waiting for someone I know to have a baby the chance to make it. This was a really fast knit (I think it only took me one evening to make each hat.)

*If anyone is curious, I used the yarn suggested by the pattern.

This summer I was in the grocery store waiting to check out. I looked down at the magazines and there was a purse on the cover that looked exactly like a monster. I was so excited I immediately grabbed it to add to my cart. As it was heading towards my cart I got a better look at the "monster" purse. Apparently normal people don't make monster bags in July. What I thought were teeth were just half square triangles along the bottom and the eyes were just the handles knotted through some grommets. It was a cute purse, but wasn't nearly as cute as the monster bag I thought I saw. 

Then I started thinking and realized that I could make half square triangles and create my own monster bag. I wanted to really make it look like a monster so I replaced the knotted handles with square-in-square blocks. 

I struggled to get a good picture, but this gives an idea of what they look like. As I was laying out the blocks my husband suggested I turn the HSTs to make bigger teeth so credit for the green bag goes to him. 

Sadly this is the best shot I got of the yellow bag. The original picture I saw only had one row of HSTs, but I thought that two made it look much more like a mouth. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween Door

I was at my local library when I found a Halloween magazine from last year. On the cover of Women's World was this super cute candy corn wreath. Since I've never been one to worry about what's "in style" I decided to ignore the fact that the magazine was from two years ago and make the wreath anyway.

I used a styrafoam wreath, black duct tape, hot glue, 2 bags of candy corn, and black ribbon. Unfortunately I was so excited about this project I forgot to take pictures of the wreath in the making. For this wreath I used a rounded form, but I think if I make this again I'll use a wreath that is flat on the top. I laid out one stripe of candy across the wreath, then I worked in quarter sections of the wreath and laid out rows based on my first stripe. (This is where a flat wreath would have been better. Had my candies stayed where I left them I would have laid out the sections of this wreath and then gone back and glued it down.) The candies didn't line up perfectly so I made sure to tie my ribbon over the seam. I attached the candy on the top and sides and left the back of the wreath empty so that it would sit flat against the door.

We live in a first floor apartment and the front door opens straight into our living room so privacy was a big issue with this door. Many of our neighbors cover their windows with sheets of paper, but my crafty side said that I could do better. I made a frame out of card stock and covered it with candy corn tissue paper. It felt like it was still lacking something so I used black tissue paper to spell the word BOO! Our apartment building isn't very attractive so you'll have to take my word on this, but at night the letters look like stained glass. It's a very cheap and cute solution to privacy.

Linking up to:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate Dreams

The past few weeks have been very hectic. Normally I'm not much of a cook, but I took a group of my clients to an apple orchard recently and came home with two pecks of apples. I'll share my canning adventures later on, but today I want to share this delicious recipe for no-bake nutella cheesecake I found onA Law Studen'ts Journey. I meant to post this on Saturday but the Chicago Fire was playing. I'm pleased to report we won, but watching the game didn't leave time for much else that day. (Those of you not familiar with Fire they play soccer.)

Anywho, I wanted a fast and easy dessert to enjoy with our game day meal and found these adorable little cheesecakes. For the crust I mixed 12 crushed oreos generic fudge cookies (it's called a budget) and 3T melted butter. Once they were combined I pressed them into the bottom of my glasses. I love desserts in jars and four of these divided perfectly between four jelly jars.

For the filling I whipped together a block of cream cheese, 2/3c. of nutella, and 1 t vanilla. After they were whipped together I used a spatula and folded in a tub of whipped cream. If I were fancier I'd probably pipe it in, but I just scrapped it in using my spatula.

These would be really fun and easy to do for a party or shower as dessert shooters. The recipe would be super easy to double or triple as need be.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sweaters and Socks

I've been doing lots of knitting lately. I'm on the shoulder of my last sleeve of the sweater. I've decided to leave the first sleeve as is. The person I'm making it for wears sweaters a lot like I do, with the sleeves pushed up out of the way of a computer keyboard. Since the error is fairly low on the sleeve is will get lost in the smooshing. I think that since it is a Christmas present and I want some element of surprise I'm going to wait until after Christmas to post pictures of the finished sweater. (I'm going with that excuse rather than the fact that it usually takes me a few months weeks to sew a sweater together, knit the button band and collar, and weave in all of those stupid little ends.)

The other reason that the sweater will have to wait for assembly is that this arrived in the mail yesterday.

My intention was to order the needles for my husband's Christmas sweater and immediately start working on that. After two months of working with cream yarn I want color. (There's a tiny voice reminding me that my husband's sweater is green which is in fact a color, but it's being drowned out by a whiny voice saying socks are fun and fast and we want fun and fast.) Since this is a pair of socks for my husband and he's given me permission to make socks before sweater the sweater will just have to wait.

*If you're wondering the yarn is Stroll Fingering in Harvest Tonal from Knit Picks.

Knit Picks did not sponsor this posting. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012


There is a legend that Persian rug makers will intentionally put a mistake into their rug as a reminder that only Allah is perfect. As I've been working on my sweater this phrase has come into my head. This sweater is the first time that I've done cables. Over all I think I'm doing pretty good. (We're just going to ignore the fact that every repeat of the cables on the back, the first piece I did, is a different length.)

Then I got cocky. I started thinking that I knew the pattern. I started thinking that I didn't need the stitch counter and stopped counting every row. This worked great until I stopped for the night, picked it up the next morning and realized that I'd forgotten to include eight rows in the counter the night before. I didn't panic too much, just added in the rows that I'd forgotten to add and started knitting. Two inches later I discovered when I started work my row counter was actually right.

As a knitter I should probably know how to frog and then start knitting again once I've pulled out enough stitches to have pulled out the mistake. (I should point out that I'm fully capable of pulling out my stitches and putting them back on the needle, they just end up twisted the wrong way half the time.) Since I struggle to undo inches of knitting when it's flat knitting I'm terrified of frogging cabled stitches. I asked my husband what he thought I should do. He looked at it for a minute and then said the beautiful words, "What mistake?" I trusted him and continued happily knitting. After all, only God is perfect so little mistakes aren't so bad. Then I got to the end of the sleeve and my dear husband says, "Oh, that mistake. Yeah, it's pretty noticeable."

So let me put the question out there to all of you. Do I knit the sleeve over again or do I give it to the recipient saying the sleeve is that way as a reminder that only God is perfect?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Coffee Top is Done!!!

I'm starting to think that this quilt might have a curse on it. My first goal was to get the entire quilt done over the summer to show at my quilt guild's fall guest night. I was humming along nicely and only had to sew the rows together before the top was done and my machine broke down. I got my machine fixed and  managed to finish the top in time for guest night. (I even had a week to spare.) Then the week before guest night I start coming down with some coughing illness and am to sick to go to guest night. I'm slightly worried to see what new disaster will come up when I actually start to quilt this thing. (I can't decide what I want to do for quilting though so I have some time before that occurs.) Despite all of the problems with this quilt I'm absolutely loving how it's turning out. I can't wait to cuddle up under it this winter (or next if the quilting curse is bad.)
*It's not the greatest of pictures, but with the curse that is this quilt what else did you expect. I promise when I take the finished pictures they will be good. I've even started plotting locations for this quilts photo shoot.

If you're interested in the pattern it's based on this quilt on Moda Bakeshop's webpage. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


This week has been very unproductive. Not sure how I managed to get a respiratory infection in August, but the fact that I'm still alive is a pretty great accomplishment in my book. (No, it's really not that bad, but it feels like it should be.) I have made a lot of progress on things before this week, but I haven't had a chance to get pictures. I'm pleased report that the top is finished for Coffee Lover's Delight. (Hopefully I'll get some good pictures sometime this week and can share with you next Saturday.) I've also made a lot of progress on the first Christmas present. I have the back, left side of the front, and a sleeve finished. All I have pictures of though is the back.

If you're wondering what I'm making I'm using the Northshore Cardigan pattern from Lion Brand Yarn.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pinwheels of the Past Part 3

You're going to have to forgive me with this post. I've been working on this quilt and randomly taking pictures in preparation of sharing them with the blog, but since I wasn't actively posting at the time I wasn't focused on taking good pictures. It also meant that when I got the quilt put together I was so excited I pinned everything together and began hand quilting without taking pictures of the finished top. I did go back and take pictures of the half that doesn't have quilting on it and it gives you a pretty good idea of what the whole quilt will look like. (Sorry for the poor lighting. It was late at night. When the quilt is finished I promise I'll take it outside and find a good setting for the revealing shots.)

It will be a very long time until the quilting is finished so I've decided to give you a sneak peak of the quilting too. I found a quilt stencil that I'm using on the white squares. It doesn't show up very well in the picture, but the thread is the same teal as the boarder. In the pinwheel blocks I'm doing in the ditch quilting around the pinwheels and the outside of the blocks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pinwheels of the Past part 2

Last week I showed you how to make the first part of the pinwheel blocks. After you've sewn your four half square triangles (HSTs) together you'll have a pinwheel block. Lots of quilts can be made with just this block, but I chose to take mine a step further. Last week I mentioned that I used three charm packs for this quilt. I chose to use the more solid colored charm squares as my pinwheels and used the more patterned pieces as the background fabric. The first part of the block uses one and one print squares to create your pinwheel.

Next I took the remaining two squares of print, cut those in half, and added them to the pinwheels.

Ignoring the fact that my block has magically changed colors this is what the finished block looks like. (Did I mention you're making 24 of these pinwheel blocks?)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pinwheels of the Past

I went to post more pictures of the Hobbit quilt and discovered I didn't bring my camera. (I'm writing this at a coffee shop so I can't run across the room and get them. Sorry.) Since Coffee Lover's Delight is on hold until I can get my machine fixed I decided to share another quilt I've been working on. I don't know how many quilts one person should have in progress at a time, but I may be approaching that number.

This quilt is called Pinwheels of the Past and has been in the works for a year now. I received the fabric as a birthday present two years ago. My husband works overnights and my sewing space is about 30 feet from our bed so I try not to sew when he's sleeping. The result of this is that I had a pattern figured out and my fabrics divided into blocks and then spent three months waiting to find time to sew. After waiting patiently (as patiently as I could at least) I decided to piece the quilt by hand. If my great grandmother and the thousands of quilters who came before me could quilt without a sewing machine, why couldn't I?

I used three charm packs for this quilt. (For those who are curious I used Just Wing It by Moda.) To begin with I sewed two squares together around all four sides. I used a pencil and drew in my quarter inch seams. As I got more practice at hand piecing I just sewed with a hem gauge and checked my seams every few inches.

After sewing all four sides I then cut my pieces in half diagonally.

And then I cut them in half diagonally again.

It may seem strange, but when you press them open it starts to make sense.

Rotate your pieces, sew the four blocks together and you have the first part of the pinwheel!

*I first saw this technique for sewing pinwheels on moda bakeshop's page. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I was looking through my old posts and realized I haven't made any updates on the Hobbit quilt. This quilt has been so slow going. It probably isn't the quilt to learn paper piecing with, but the subject appeals to me a lot. I've loved Lord of the Rings for years and was inspired to read the book because of this project. Here's two more of the blocks.

Dwarves' Cloaks in the Hall

The Road out Bilbo's Door

For patterns please visit Fandom in Stitches There and Back Again. I've got three more blocks done so check back next week to see some more of what I've finished.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Christmas in July???

I've heard of Christmas in July, but I don't think that they meant starting on the Christmas presents you want to make. I've had a list growing of people I want to knit for. Right now my list only has two presents that are definite (read that as I've bought the yarn for the items.) Last Christmas I woke up early Christmas morning so I could finish sewing the seams on my husband's sweater. I can't promise I won't put myself in the same bind, but I'm going to try to do it with a bit more sanity this year. One reason I've decided to start for a holiday that is still 6 months away is I'm challenging myself to learn new techniques. I started knitting a year and a half ago and haven't moved very far beyond the knit and purl stitches. In the six months since Christmas I've learned how to make socks and now I'm challenging myself to cable. So far I have seven inches on the back of my first cardigan done.

Those lucky enough to be on the knitting list know that I can't keep gifts a secret so I'll publish the items as I make progress on them. I will however keep it a secret who's getting what and recipients will just have to hope the item they like best is for them. (Or that the things they hate aren't headed their way!)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Coffee Lover's Delight part 2

I got a little side tracked with Coffee Lover's Delight. I went to my local quilt shop (LQS) to purchase fabric for the sashing and the back of the quilt and discovered they had two charm packs of the Java fabric line left. I was a bit worried about the quilt being too small so I snatched those babies right up. I started laying things out and realized I only needed 10 more squares, but since I had the previous 20 squares from the first two charm packs laid out with duplicate prints in the corners I decided it was okay to only use half of the fabric in each charm pack.

I'm afraid I didn't take any pictures of the new blocks, but they look like the others. I have gone off of Mary Lane Brown's quilt pattern a bit. To really make the Xs and Os pop I wanted to add sashing between my blocks. I cut the brown 2.5"x10" and have added 2.5" white corner stones to each block. The result is a 2" sashing that's the same width as the center squares in my blocks. For this quilt I decided to add the sashing on two sides of each block and then sew the blocks together rather than trying to wrestle with long pieces of sashing and creating more points to get off. When finished there will be brown on all sides of the block and white squares at each corner. Here's what two of the blocks look like with the sashing.

I have all of the rows sewn together and have half of the rows combined for the top. Unfortunately my machine has broken down and the repair shop is an hour and a half away so it will be a while before there are any more updates on Coffee Lover. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Coffee Lover's Delight part 1

After a lot of knitting, I've finally started working on a quilt. Much easier to share when it's in progress than a weird bit of knitting on the needles. This quilt is inspired by Mary Lane Brown's "Road to Tennessee." Her tutorial for the block is wonderful so if you want to know how to make the blocks check out this site:

One of the variations Mary suggests is Xs and Os. When I saw that I immediately thought of Moda's line Java. At first I tried laying out my blocks by color.

It looked cute, but I wasn't totally happy with it. I tried mixing up my blocks and giving it a more scrappy look. I absolutely love this layout.

One trick I've learned with quilting is to take a black and white picture once you have your layout finalized. This lets you see how well everything balances.

I really want the Xs and Os to pop so I've decided to do some brown sashing between my blocks with white corner stones. When I was shopping for my brown fabric I found a few more Java charm packs. I think that my quilt is very heavy on the blues and light on the dark colors so I'm going add 10 more blocks to get a little more variety of color. If you make this quilt one charm pack will give you 10 blocks. I enjoy having my blocks with two matching colors in each block so I'm going to be using 4 charm packs, but I'll have one charm pack left over. (Don't worry, I've already got plans for that one.)