Sunday, September 29, 2013

Writer's Block Continues

Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea to design a quilt around the concept of writer's block. When my husband suggested the name after I brought home the fabric I fell in love instantly and my brain immediately started thinking of how to design a quilt around it. This week I've had nothing but frustrations with this quilt. After I began attaching the first of the white strips I discovered that my 6.5" blocks were really 6.75". A quarter inch feels so small until it's there or not there. I was good and picked out all of the stitches, trimmed the blocks (again) and did it right. I was hoping to have the blocks finished (possibly even sewn into a top) but life has yet again gotten in the way. 

There's one more step before I sew the blocks into rows, but I wanted an idea of what the quilt will look like. 

Does anyone recognize this pattern? My quilt was inspired by one I saw online, but now I can't find it. I would really love to know who made the original so I can give credit. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christmas Knitting has Officially Begun

I've been collecting patterns and yarn all summer and have finally cast on the first official Christmas project. I love spending hours thinking about my loved ones as I work on their gifts. The problem with handmade Christmas presents comes when you write a blog and most of the people on your list read said blog. I'm starting presents in September so if I don't blog about Christmas presents in progress I won't write again until January. Not a very good option. I could leave cryptic photos and refuse to show any details, but I think three months of that will get boring. (I may hold off on finished photos until after Christmas, but works in progress photos will be like normal.) I have decided not to share who's getting what, and if the recipients figure it out they'll just have to live with not being surprised come Christmas.

First up is my Kingpin socks.

Last week my husband and I went to the other side of the state for a wedding. The thought of counting out heel and garter stitches while moving was making my stomach queasy so I cast on the second leg before we headed home. My brilliant plan of starting the sock at a color change to create two matching socks failed when the second skein started significantly lower in the pattern than the first. My husband knows these socks are heading towards his stocking and has assured me he likes it as is so I'm trying to like it too. (My plan of not revealing who gets what gift really isn't off to a good start, is it?)

Our vacation worked out that we had four days off when we got home. It was so nice to have time to run errands, clean, and relax. I made a major dent in the first big Christmas project. I've got 17" of the back done already. I have to admit this one makes me the most nervous. Some of the list is there if time allows so finishing this sweater quickly is vital to making everything that I want. 
Sorry for the bad picture. It's really hard to photograph a big brown blob:-)

My husband has tried knitting a couple of times and has never quite gotten it. During our time at home he was bored and kept watching me knitting happily away. I gave him one of my books with knitting instructions and he pulled out his needles and yarn. After things clicked I realized why I've been unable to teach him knitting. He knits completely different from me! He kept worrying about the fact that he knits with the English method rather than the Continental that I use. I've read that lots of throwers get to be as fast as pickers once they've had practice so I don't think this should matter. He's already got plans for casting on his next washcloth and is contemplating some Christmas presents that he can make. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Writer's Block

Now that I've finished the Penguin Quilt (still need to get good pics and edit the tutorial) I've returned my attention back to the Writer's Block. In cleaning and rearranging our living room we've created a reading nook where this quilt will be right at home. 

It's fairly hard to explain where I'm going with these blocks so I'm afraid you'll just have to be patient as this quilt evolves. The quilt in my head is somewhat complicated so it will still be a few weeks before I'll have a completed top to share.

I am taking notes of what I'm doing and will publish the pattern when it's done.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Socks

The blue socks are done. It's been so nice to have a simple pattern to take a break with after the long project of Omelet. I'm going to be mean and make you guys wait just a little bit longer before I reveal Omelet. She really deserves her own finish post and not to be lumped in with a bunch of socks.

Basic Ribbed Sock; Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight: Surf

Monday I cast on a pair of socks for the husband. It's another basic pair of ribbed socks. The yarn is KnitPicks Felici in Kingpin. I got it when they had their summer sale and the yarn is discontinued, but in looking at the colors Felici currently comes in I may have found some more sock potential.

Basic Ribbed Sock; KnitPicks Felici: Kingpin

The one problem I foresee with these socks is that I have a 4.5 hour car ride home ahead of me today and I'm almost to the heel. I've heard of DPN sock knitters working two socks at once by making one leg, then the second, then working both heels and gussets that way, then working the feet for both socks, and finally the toes. I brought a second set of DPNs with me, so I might cast on the second sock for the drive home. I think it's going to be a bit too challenging to work a heel and gusset riding in the car. Next week I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Penguin Progress

I've been struggling with this post most of the week. I have no idea why it's okay to write 8 posts on a shawl, but I'm feeling guilty about sharing progress on my Penguin Quilt  for the third week in a row. It both astonishes and confounds me how I can have such completely opposite approaches when it comes to knitting and quilting. With knitting I can only have one project at a time that I'm working on. (I've tried many times to have multiple projects going so that I have knitting no matter what mood I'm in, but it just doesn't work.) The closest I've come to writing my own knitting pattern is vanilla socks where I just check stitch counts for the heel. It's easy to show progress from one week to the next so I almost always have something to write about.

With quilting I can't even count how many quilts I have in the works right now. Since I have self-set deadlines and am working through how I'll finish them I'm calling them WIPs and not UFOs. I usually don't use a pattern, and if I do I alter it so much that it has very little resemblance to the quilt that inspired it. Progress however is very hard to show on a large quilt. I don't have a good way to hang a quilt in progress so all I can share is close-ups of the blocks. (When the blocks are 14" though it makes it hard to even get a decent shot of that.)

I've been busy working on quilting Penguins this week. I'm hoping to photograph it early next week so I've been pushing to finish it in time. This is only my second time doing free motion quilting and I wasn't prepared for how much thread it would take. Thankfully the Fat Quarter Shop has really fast shipping and I had a new spool of thread 3 days after ordering.

I have one large grey block, one fish, and two penguins left to quilt, and the binding so I should make my goal of finishing this weekend. I'm loving how the bubble quilting is looking. It really makes this quilt.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And on to the socks...

I finished Omelet last Wednesday. I have the perfect photo shoot planned for showing off Omelet, but it won't happen until this weekend so you guys will just have to wait until next week to see the finished shawl. This week I've finally gotten to move on to the socks I've been itching to start. At the end of July the first sock snuck onto my needles during a weekend that was not good for lace knitting. Since the sock was not in the knitting plans I turned my attention back to Omelet rather than immediately casting on it's mate. 

I love the colors that Deborah Norville yarn offers, but I'm really getting tired of their winding practices. Can someone please explain how two skeins of yarn in the same dye lot can be wound in opposite directions? After knitting a few inches I discovered the stripes on my second sock had been reversed. I ripped back and restarted. I probably should have ripped back and restarted a second time so that the blue strips at the top of the socks were the same width. This pair of socks is for me and I have no intention of frogging an entire leg and heel just to add 1/4" to the first stripe, but it still bugs me a little that they don't match perfectly. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm on Bloglovin!

I received a request to add bloglovin to my blog. Hopefully I'll have a bloglovin gadet in my side bar soon.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Update: One of these days I'll embrace new technological things the first day it's out and not spend months trying to figure it out. I'm now on Bloglovin! (Although it seems I've already been there since I logged on and discovered I already have 7 Bloglovin followers.) If you want to follow my blog with bloglovin I now have an easy button on my sidebar that lets you do this.

Whether you're here from google or bloglovin thanks for sticking with me as I figure this stuff out. If there's another site you'd like to follow me with please ask and I'll see what I can do.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Penguins and New Sewing Machine

 This week I've started quilting the penguin quilt. I'm very new at free motion quilting so it's hard to really say how it's going. It's not perfect which is a bit disappointing, but it's good enough to keep. I did in the ditch quilting around the fish and penguins. Since the penguins are so big I also stitched around their bellies and beaks. In the grey blocks I've decided to do bubble quilting. I'm not sure if I'm going to do bubbles on the blue too or if I'll just keep it on the plain blocks.

On Wednesday I mentioned that I bought a new sewing machine cabinet last weekend. Since there were several requests for pictures and more details here's the cabinet as it currently sits. It turns makes an excellent computer desk when it's all folded up.

Check out that large space for quilting! I haven't had a chance to really look at the machine so I'm afraid I can't give you any details yet. I am planning on refinishing this soon. Currently I'm leaning towards painting it some shade of blue and recovering the chair with a soft cream colored fabric. I'll be sure to share pictures as soon as it's finished.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

If you give a knitter a dust rag...

I had great plans for Labor Day weekend. I was going to finish Omelet, I was going to quilt Penguins, I might have even finished the binding on Penguins. Saturday I started working on the Penguin quilt and realized I didn't have enough batting so that required a quick run to town. As long as I was in town I figured I may as well check the second hand shop to see if I could find a cute outfit for the Des Moines Quilt Show in October. The moment I walked in the door I saw this beautiful sewing cabinet complete with a Singer sewing machine and matching chair. It was marked 60 dollars, but they were having a red, white, and blue sale. The clerk looked really hard and found some red and white on the seat so I got it for 45 dollars. Of course it also meant that I had to drive back into town in the afternoon with the husband (and explain to the husband why adding a sewing themed piece of furniture to our cramped apartment was absolutely necessary.) Saturday I got my Penguin quilt basted and a few rows on Omelet finished.

Sunday I did a little rearranging in our living room so that the sewing cabinet had a home and we could access our front door again. I did outline quilting on all of the penguins and fish and did about 10-15 rows on Omelet.

This brings us to the rabbit hole that was Monday. I wanted to clean one corner of our living room to make space for something the husband wanted to move in there. (After not getting too upset with me for buying the sewing cabinet he pretty much had carte blanche this weekend.) Of course from that corner I could see our printer table and that needed organizing, which led to the chair next to the printer, which required moving things to the bedroom where there was more mess to deal with. Six hours later I have two new bookcases in the living room (which looks amazing!) a clean hallway, and half-way clean bedroom. 

With all of this distraction Omelet still fared pretty well this weekend. I have two rows and the bind-off left. I wanted to stay up late finishing it last night, but I know it will be another hour or two before it's done and I have work today. Hopefully tonight I'll do the last bit of work and tomorrow can start the Christmas knitting.