Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Predictable Progress

As predicted the sweater sleeve has experienced a frogging. I was able to save the first three inches so it wasn't quite as painful as I anticipated it being. I'm not sure what I did but if you look closely about half way down the sleeve on the left side there's a wonky bit. It doesn't look too horrible in the picture, but it was very wonky in person. I was hoping that it would get better as I worked, but every round the wonkiness became more and more obvious.

I also noticed the the increases I was using were leaving large holes in my knitting. This is the first piece where I've ever had to do increases on a purl row. My preferred increase is to knit in the front and back of the stitch and if the pattern doesn't let me do that I lift the bar between two stitches and knit (or in this case purl) into the bar. For some odd reason the lifted bars left big holes this time. I'm still pretty sure that it should work knitting this sleeve in the round. Hopefully next week I'll have better progress to report.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2013

This summer I was honored to be featured on the Moda Bakeshop. Since Christmas is less than 60 days away I decided to enter my quilt Into the Woods in the Fall 2013 Blogger's Quilt Festival.

The pattern features pieced trees and a variation of the split rail block. As I was figuring out how to lay out this quilt my husband suggested using my light fabrics in the center of the blocks so that it looks like snow flakes. I absolutely love the effect it creates.

The quilt finishes 70"x56". For the binding I chose a sugar cookie print. It's so much fun to see all of the cookies wrapping around the edge of the quilt.

I have a weakness when it comes to hot cocoa. It's my comfort food year round. When I saw fabric covered in hot cocoa I knew it needed to have a huge role in my quilt and so I chose this fabric for the background, and used the extra pieces from the jellyrolls to add a small pieced embellishment.

For the label I cut one of the extra blocks on point and did sashing with one of the extra jellyroll pieces.

Head on over to Amy's blog and check out all of the amazing quilts.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Fabric

Thursday was such a happy day. I got a box of fabric from Fat Quarter Shop for two quilts and a box from my MIL full of Halloween goodies. My excitement level was about equal with the fabric box coming out slightly ahead (come on, it's 5.7 pounds of fabric.) When I got home from work my husband and I were digging through the boxes and discovered she sent us individually wrapped peeps!!! I didn't even know they made Halloween peeps let alone individually wrapped ones. The glare on the wrappers is too harsh so there's no pictures of them. :-(

Happily the fabric has no glare so I can share photos of what I got. Every year my quilt guild does a challenge and a mystery quilt. This year they even let me plan the challenge quilt! I might be driving some of them a bit nuts with my loose rules, but I want everyone to have fun. When I announced the challenge I handed out paint chips and participants must find fabrics that match at least three of the colors on their paint chips. Fabrics can be prints so long as the colors on their prints match the colors on their paint chips. We're also able to use neutrals such as black, white, and grey. 

I'm not completely sold on the two fabrics furthest to the right. They lean a little more towards the red scale than the purpley pink I was hoping for. I've decided one of the things I'm adding to my Christmas list is a color card from Kona. I'm really embracing using solids and can't wait to get a swatch of all of fabric colors Kona offers.

I attempted to participate in the mystery quilt along the first year I joined the guild. I did okay with altering the fabric (i did a two-step process of bleaching and then when it was too light coffee stain), embellishing the fabric with quilting, cutting the fabric into seven pieces and reassembling, and adding beads and buttons. My mystery quilt was turning into this cute little bookcase runner with 7 owls. Then the last step instructed us to turn our fabric into a vessel. I couldn't figure out how to turn my bookcase runner into a vessel and the beading on my owl wings was becoming ridiculous. My owl runner currently languishes in UFO purgatory. I have trouble calling projects UFO because in my mind if I intend to finish it and have a plan of when it will be worked back into the schedule/finished it's still a WIP. To refer to the owl runner as a UFO tells you that their hopes of being finished are zilch. 

This year's mystery quilt we've already been told will finish as a quilt. Our guild makes Comfort Quilts for the DA to hand out to victims of violent crimes and their families, and to an organization that assists women and children leaving domestic violence situations. This year's organizers have planned a quilt that will finish 50"x76" which is one of the requested sizes for comfort quilts. We aren't required to give away our quilts, but I've decided my mystery quilt this year will be a Comfort Quilt. 

I forgot to ask when they handed out the first step, but I'll talk to the organizers of the Mystery Quilt and see if I can share the steps here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christmas Sock Update

I'm really pleased with how well the Brown Blob is progressing. I've finished the left front so all that's left now is the sleeves. I've also made the bold decision to go off pattern for the sleeves. (Cue the ominous music.) It's really not that big of an alteration and probably isn't even worth mentioning. I hate seams so I'm knitting the sleeves in the round rather than flat. I know knitters do this kind of thing all the time but my inner knitter is sitting back with a smug look reminding me that she reserves the right to say, "I told you so" when I'm ripping out the sleeve next week. 

I've also been somewhat successful at having two projects going at once right now. The Brown Blob is getting most of the attention, but between each piece of the blob I've been putting in a few rows on my Kingpin Socks. I didn't want to count stitches for the heel in the car so I cast on for the second leg. Then a couple weeks later I ended up taking these with me to the Des Moines quilt show and still worked on the heel in the car. I did okay until it came time to picking up stitches for the gusset. Definitely not a car activity. Thankfully I've had some knitting time outside of the car lately and have gotten the first heel and gusset completed. I'm trying to stay even with the socks so I've started working on the heel flap on the second sock. I've heard of knitters doing socks this way to avoid second sock syndrome, but since I've never struggled with that I don't foresee knitting two socks at the same time very often.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Swiss Cheese and Spiders

Last weekend I was watching Fons and Porter and they talked about quilting with spiders. Not being fond of the 8 legged creatures this got my attention because I needed to know if it was time to change the channel. Thankfully a quilting spider has very little relation to the nasty arachnids so I was able to continue watching. (Have I mentioned yet that I really hate spiders?) In quilting a spider is a scrap of fabric used for stopping and starting your sewing. This eliminates all of those strings that get left on the back of your quilt trimmed at the end. Because the fabric scrap gets sewed on several times it winds up with little strings hanging off it looking like legs. If I was more organized I could see having small squares that I'm constantly feeding through at the beginning and end of my rows that eventually get sewn into a quilt, but at this point in time I like the use of spiders.

Last winter I took a workshop with my quilt guild and one of the members asked another member if she was going to Swiss cheese her quilt. I'll admit I've only been quilting for a few years, but Swiss cheese was not a term I'd encountered. Sadly it has nothing to do with the snack you nibble on while quilting. Instead it involves chain piecing your rows so that when you've got all of your rows assembled the rows are all connected.

To do this you sew block 1 and 2 from row 1 together, then blocks 1 and 2 from row 2, and continue until you have all of the first two blocks sewn together. Starting at row 1 you attach block 3 from row one and work down the rows until all of block 3 has been attached. You continue in this manner until you've sewn all of the blocks to your row. You're quilt will look something like Swiss cheese at this point in time. Leaving all of the threads between your rows from the chain piecing you sew your rows together.

If you're anything like me you might be wondering when you'll need to use such a complicated form of sewing. (After I finished adding block 3 things clicked and were slightly less confusing.) The quilt I'm currently working on has a very specific pattern that requires each block to be in a very specific location with only one correct orientation. By sewing the top together using the Swiss cheese method it was much easier for me to make sure my blocks were facing the correct way and I sewed everything together in the right order.

This quilt is a memorial quilt for the dog we had to put to sleep last spring. Next week I'm taking a workshop on hand applique and will be adding some rainbow colored paw prints.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweater in a month?

I've read in years past about knitters who commit to knitting an entire sweater, start to finish, in the month of November. This crazy event has been dubbed NaNoSweMo or National Sweater Knitting Month. It's the knitting response to NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month where participants are encouraged to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I've always thought it would be fun to participate in, but never thought I'd actually be able to do it. This week as I cast on the left front of this cardigan I realized that it's entirely possible I will finish this sweater in 30 days. That said, I probably won't. I have no intention of pushing myself hard to finish this by October 25 (a month from when the sweater showed up on my blog) or by October 31. If I really intended to finish this sweater in a month I needed to commit to that before starting. 

That said there is still a crazy little voice in my head telling me I can finish the brown blob by Halloween and I have a lovely blue yarn in my stash waiting to become a cardigan that could be knit up in a month. Must keep reminding myself that this sweater is only the first Christmas gift on the list, another sweater is not on the list and cannot be on the list, and there are still lots of little projects left to knit. I also have to keep reminding myself of my promise to the green sweater that she would get finished. I'm really hopeful that I can dedicate November knitting to all of the little Christmas projects and then in December I can work on the green sweater as a Christmas present for myself.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quilt Show Memories

Last weekend I got to go to the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines. This was my first international quilt show and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. According to the website there are over 1600 quilts on display. I meant to take pictures, but was so awestruck by everything that when I got home I discovered I'd only taken five pictures. Worse; none of them were quilts that had inspired the plans I was developing as I headed home. A couple of the quilts on display were set on black backgrounds. I loved how the dark background made the colors jump off of the quilt. My quilt guild's challenge this year is to take at least three colors from a paint chip and make a quilt using only those colors and neutrals. I was already toying with the idea of a black background, but after seeing those quilts I am definitely using black in my paint chip quilt.

One of the exhibits featured miniature quilts. I've seen lots of bloggers making miniatures/doll quilts, but they are nothing like what was on display. These quilts followed the standard rules of 24" or smaller, blocks that are 4" or smaller, but they took the or smaller bit to the extreme. There was a double wedding ring quilt that couldn't have been more than 8" wide and 12" long, still featuring at least 12 full ring blocks with the same number of pieces you'd expect in a large wedding ring quilt. There were log cabins with pieces no more than 1/4" wide. Not only did these quilters (both women and men) work with teeny tiny pieces, they have precision I struggle to accomplish on full size quilts. One of the more experienced quilters I was with said that they use paper piecing to make the small blocks. After finding out that EQ7 lets you print your own paper piecing patterns I've started laying out my own miniature quilt. There are a couple of projects that need to be finished first so I probably won't start sewing the miniature until January, but I have big plans for some small quilts.

In addition to seeing the amazing quilts we also visited the vendors' booths. I was overwhelmed by all of the choices. I found these cute little fat quarters that are destined to become a wall hanging for one of the people on my Christmas list. I'm not sure if the Scotties will make it on the front of the quilt or not, but they were too cute to leave behind.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


This week my sweater is not as far as I wish it was. Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Des Moines for the AQS Quilt Show. We left at 6 in the morning and didn't get back until 11 at night. Not much knitting time, but the inspiration I got from all of the quilts was worth it. Sunday I curled up with Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini. I intended to just read a chapter or two, but it was so good I ended up reading the whole book. I have a quilt I need to get ready for a workshop I'm taking at the end of this month so I'm not making promises as to how much knitting will get done this week either. (This is the real reason that I start knitting for Christmas in September. I have time to get distracted by other projects and still stand a decent chance of having presents finished by the 25th.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting until morning

Saturday I was happily working away at the brown blob. Close to bedtime I looked down and four rows back I somehow switched my pattern and ended up with about four inches of purls on the left side.

I told my husband I'd see how things looked in the morning. His loving response, "What do you mean you'll see how it looks in the morning? It will still be wrong." Sadly he was correct, the sweater was still wrong in the morning. However in the morning I had remembered the whole trick of dropping a stitch down row by row and using a crochet hook to bring it back up the right way. It was annoying, but far less painful than frogging four rows of knitting. Sunday afternoon I finished up the back of the sweater.

I cast on for the right side of the cardigan. Three inches later I remembered that the k1p1 rib includes a knit stitch at the start and end of the row before the k1p1 rib. Thankfully this sweater is going really fast so it was only an hour or so later that I had the second piece set up properly and began working the Shaker Rib.