Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Picasso Socks 3

This long weekend was great for knitting. I finally finished the Picasso socks. I tend to be a slow distracted knitter, but on Saturday I successfully turned the heel and finished the foot! (I couldn't resist showing off my basil and African violet. I've tried for several years to raise an African violet, but this is the first time I've convinced one to re-flower after all of the blooms fell off.)

My green sweater is progressing at a much slower rate. I'm finally understanding why knitters have more than one project going at a time. The cables in this thing are rather intense and don't satisfy my craving for simple mindless knitting. 

Over the weekend I picked up Boyfriend Sweaters and I'm thinking I may be casting on one of those sweaters soon. They're simple enough for the end of a long day of work, and the yarn is big enough it's not going to hurt my fingers when my arthritis is acting up. The only problem is figuring out yarn substitutions. One of the sweaters I really love is knit with Baby Camel. I'm not sure what universe this guy lives in, but my husband would be horrified if I gave him a sweater that costs as much his wedding band. In the meantime I'm going to stroke my green sweater a bit more. I love that the cable pattern is finally starting to show.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

SPQG 2013 Quilt Show Part 1

Last weekend was the Sioux Prairie Quilt Guild's annual quilt show. I'm always in awe of what these ladies can do. I try to remember that they've been at this for longer than me and that my quilts are getting better, but there are days I feel like a fraud being in the same guild as these amazing women. They are very encouraging and remind me that before you can be an expert you have to be a beginner.

I'm very grateful that they let me take pictures to share here. (They actually laughed when I asked if it was okay, but I know some shows are more picky about those things.) I apologize for the picture heavy post, but it was extremely hard to choose which quilts to share.

First up is the finished Penguin Quilt top. Our backdrops our limited in height so the large quilts have to have their tops folded over. I think this is still one of the better pictures I'm going to get of this quilt.
Feeding Time by Kymberly Pease

Barn quilts are becoming very popular in our area. I love the idea of a quilt filled with barns with barn quilts on them.

Barn Quilt by Phyllis Van Peursem

I don't have a picture of it, but she used the extra blocks to make a cute chevron on the back.
Bright Zig Zag by Carolyn Elder

This one might look familiar. I thought I'd show everyone what Coffee Lover's Delight looks like when it isn't being blown about by wind or struggling to fit it all in the frame.

Coffee Lover's Delight by Kymberly Pease

My guild is lucky to have several hand-quilters. This quilt is by one of the women who inspires me to master this art form.  Right now the thought of hand-quilting a bed-sized quilt is daunting. Not only did she make this quilt, but she had several other large quilts in the show.

Lone Star by Mary Ellen Winter

A close up of the hand quilting.

 This quilt has 50 different shades of red in it! I can't imagine how long that search must have taken.

Red and White Pineapple by Mary Ellen Winter

Last week I shared my submission into last year's challenge to literally interpret a quilt block. This is the winning quilt.

Pineapple Quilt by Barb Tazelaar

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shoo Fly

All of my quilts that I finished this year (which pretty much means all of my quilts) are currently hanging in the quilt show right now. If you happen to be in Orange City, IA today celebrating the Tulip Festival stop by the Bultman Center for the Sioux Prairie Quilt Guild's annual quilt show. I decided to share my entry into the Challenge from last year. Last year's challenge was to make a quilt interpreting the name of a traditional block i.e. an actual log cabin on a quilt rather than the log cabin block. Somewhere in the quilt we needed to use our inspiration block.

I chose to do the Shoo Fly. This quilt finishes at 24"x24" and was my first attempt at free motion quilting. The front looks pretty good, but I refuse to show the back. It has more than a few tangles. I haven't tried FMQ since then, but it's on my list of things to work on this year.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Picasso Socks

The green sweater is progressing, but because of it's size progress is very slow to show. I've also been working on socks this week. My husband is very patient watching me focus on the green sweater and abandoning work on his socks. He has made several comments about how much he loves them and I like knitting for people who appreciate what I create so I've made it a goal to get these finished soon. (It's also really satisfying to have a project where an evening's work results in an inch of knitting rather than a single row.)

The yarn is Deborah Norville Picasso Marble. It's a basic vanilla sock with no real pattern.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coffee Lover's Delight

Coffee Lover's Delight has been done for a while and has been patiently waiting for me to photograph it. (I never realized how much traffic drives down our street at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. In the twenty minutes I was setting up and taking pictures three different trucks drove past. I can only imagine what they thought of the crazy lady spreading out a quilt in the front yard.)

It took me a long time to decide how to do the quilting. After talking with the ladies in my guild they suggested doing Xs through each block. I really love how it turned out.

I've blogged about the making of this quilt herehere, and here. It's an interpretation of the Road to Tennessee by Mary Lane Brown.

The fabric is Java by Deb Strain. In order to get the two-tone blocks I used four charm packs, but I had half of two charm packs left. The corner stones and sashing are also from the Java line. I added 2.5" sashing around all of the blocks to separate the X and Os. The sashing wasn't in my original plan so I didn't buy it with the rest of the fabric. Unfortunately when I went to get my brown the LQS was out of the browns in the Java line, but I think it matches really nicely though.

The backing is also from the Java fabric line. 

One of my favorite parts of this quilt is the label. I love the surprise of this little coffee mug on the back. The date shows just how long this quilt has been waiting to get on the blog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Permission to Fail

Saturday I had the opportunity to meet with my knitting mentor, mom, and sister. Unfortunately our schedules don't line up very frequently so we're lucky to meet once every month or two. It was very comforting to see her eyes pop out when she saw the pattern I was trying to figure out. I'd started it the week before and things were beginning to click, but there were still problems. After talking through the pattern with her I found the few stitches that had gone missing, then I realized that I'd forgotten to work the increases every row like I was supposed to, discovered I'd been reading more of the chart than my size called for, and had forgotten to switch to larger needles when I switched to the charts. I try not to obsess over every mistake I make while knitting, but the mistakes had hit the crucial number where fudging would no longer work. I cast on knowing that I might have to frog, but that I would learn enough to be successful the second time. (I do wish that I had thought to thread a piece of dental floss through the last row of seed stitch so I could have avoided re-knitting the first seven rows of the pattern.)

As I was ripping back a week worth of knitting we started talking about the courage it takes to fail. It's difficult to start knowing that failure is a very real possibility. It's much easier to stick to the things you know can be done perfectly, but this stops you from growing. One of the things that has stuck with me is the thought of practicing doing things that open you up to failure. I love that knitting gives me a safe place to fail. Worst case scenario I wouldn't be able to salvage the yarn and would be out $2.69. For this sweater I spent a week knitting something that I ripped back. It would be easy to see that week as wasted time, but the mistakes I made have taught me how to do this sweater correctly. I'm discovering that as I fail in the safe things like knitting I have the courage to fail in other, less safe areas. It doesn't mean that when I fail, especially at the bigger things, it doesn't hurt, but I don't let that fear of hurt stop me from trying.

As proof that I learned from failing my first attempt at this sweater took me a week. I cast on for the second attempt Saturday and I'm almost done knitting the frogged yarn.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Leaf Block

I've been a member of the Sioux Prairie Quilt Guild for the past two years. I have learned so much from these amazing ladies. Every year we honor our president with a signature quilt. This year's president loves autumn colors and requested we all make leaf blocks. I'm not a huge fan of autumn colors so I can't see doing a whole quilt out of this block for my home, but I really had fun making this block. I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

I don't sew with a lot of autumn colors, but luckily I had a bit of red left over from my Hobbit quilt. This block is very scrap friendly. I had parts of two fat quarters and hardly used any of the fabric.

From light fabric cut one 3.5" square and six 4" half square triangles.
From dark fabric cut three 3.5" squares, four 4" half square triangles, and one 1"x6" rectangle.

Sew together four of the half square triangles. 
Sew remaining two light triangles to the skinny rectangle to create stem piece.

Square up triangles and stem pieces to 3.5".

Sew triangles and squares together in order shown below and square up block to 9.5".

I don't have a picture of the final step, but I signed my name in the light colored square at the top of the block. I love the idea of a signature quilt to commemorate important life events.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What kind of knitter are you?

I've heard several discussions about product vs. process knitters. I've always suspected that I fall into the product camp, but after this week there is no longer any doubt in my mind. I am a product knitter. I usually start looking for my next project shortly after casting on my current project. I think about what piece I want in my wardrobe, spend hours looking through patterns, and debating what yarn I want to use. Because I have a fairly solid vision of what the finished piece will look like I don't have too much trouble focusing on my project. I may have a sock or dishcloth floating around, but they only get attention when I'm too tired to work on the main knitting. If you've been here for a while you might be asking about the Purple Monster. This sweater was my attempt at being a process knitter and the knowledge that real Knitters do colorwork. I have the sleeves and steeking left on this sweater, but because I didn't follow my process of selecting a project I feel no guilt over it not being done. The price of the yarn will force me to finish it sooner or (probably) later, but this week has not been the purple monster's week.

I've been making steady progress on my Fogarty Creek Blazer, but have gotten stuck on how to read the charts for the main body. I think I've figured it out, but now I need to get the right number of stitches on my needles. I should have known that with 282 stitches some of them were bound to go missing. Since I haven't been able to work on my green sweater, and I can't spend the week not knitting I've been reluctantly working on a sock. My husband really loves this pair of socks so I've been trying to get them done. (Turns out I married a product spouse who sees a pair of socks in some yarn and a half finished sock.)

So are you a product or a process knitter?