Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Quilt mojo is a very delicate thing.  Because of its portability, my knitting has won out over quilting recently, but now that summer's here, my quilt mojo has returned.

First, I had a long-standing UFO, my Hat Box quilt (design by Kaffe Fassett), quilted by my pal Debra Dixon.  Debra does high quality affordable machine quilting.  I scrolled through my photo library to find these 2009 pictures of the finished top, which I made from a couple of books of home dec fabric samples.

Hat Box Quilt (detail)

Voila!  The quilted and bound quilt.  It's hard to photograph because it's big and it's cloudy here today.

Here it's draped on a king sized bed.  I'm very happy with the completed quilt.

 Since I was digging through the stash for binding fabrics, I found a piece of fleece perfect for a baby quilt back, and a pack of fat quarters in grey and white.  I also had a perfect piece of yellow gingham.

In a few days I had the baby quilt done.  Here you can see it with the inspirational fleece backing. 

Once I started digging through my stash, the creative wheels started to turn.  There are more quilts in the works...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Machine Embroidered Blouse

At Mitla

Michael and I were fortunate to have spent ten days in Oaxaca, Mexico recently.   Oaxaca is a city in southern Mexico with a rich combination of peoples and languages, and with an equally rich textile tradition.  Embroidery and weaving are important parts of several indigenous groups as well as part of the mestizo population

I noticed women in public embroidering printed tablecloths like the ones above, which I photographed at the Sunday market at Tlacolula.  I also saw a woman selling these tablecloths from a street stall in the center of Oaxaca.  While we were there there was an on-going protest of teachers in the main part of town, and I noted that a number of them embroidered as they occupied the zocalo.

Women of all social classes wear embroidered blouses, and some of the styles are associated with specific indigenous groups.  Blouses are available in a range of price points from the 10 dollar blouses sold on the street, to elaborately hand embroidered blouses sold for hundreds of dollars in chic boutiques.  Aprons are also worn in public by indigenous women as well as by middle class mestizo housewives, often with detailed embroidery.

There's an impressive textile museum in Oaxaca, with examples of embroidery done by women in the region going back to the 1700s.  I noticed a blouse that incorporated both hand and machine stitching, the machine stitches were free form embroidery used to fill in empty space. 

All this reminded of an unfinished project I began months ago with Debra Dixon, who does machine embroidery on commission and who has a line of embroidered aprons.  After some brainstorming back and forth, I cut out a blouse pattern I found the rough sketches of on the internet, and sent her the relevant pieces for her to machine embroider.

You can see how I marked and made notes on the fabric

The pattern was a good starting point, but I had to Mac Guyver the underarm gussets and the skirt pleats to make everything fit through the bust.  

I love these vibrant colors!  The blouse remained unsewn for months since it was too cold to wear it at home, but now that summer's here, and with renewed inspiration, it was time for its debut.

The possibilities for machine-embroidered garments are endless.  I'm inspired to considered some new ideas for embroidered blouses, both in folkloric and in contemporary styles.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Weaving with Self-Striping Sock Yarn

I wanted a large shawl for an upcoming trip, so I warped my rigid heddle loom with some inexpensive self-striping sock yarn.  This one is Sensations Truly Pattern, sold at JoAnn Fabrics, a blend of wool, nylon and rayon.  I threw in a few stripes of 100% wool in a light blue to make sure I'd have enough stripped yarn to warp the whole loom.

While I weave I get in a few hours of junk television watching, and listen to a few podcasts.  Lately I've been listening to the New Yorker Fiction podcast, which features the reading of one short story and its discussion in each episode.

Then suddenly, the shawl is done!  For the weft I used Yarn Art Kid Mohair Transparent, a blend of mohair and acrylic, that I got on clearance.  This shawl should be warm as well as light weight.

I used a fringe twister to finish the fringes, and ran the shawl through a delicate machine was and dry.  It's ready to go for my summer travels.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

5-Hour Baby Sweater

I've hit a lull in the mountain of end-of-the-term grading that has been keeping me busy.  School's almost done, and next week I get the final pile of papers to grade.

In the meantime, I had an itch to knit up some small projects with the seemingly endless supply of single balls of worsted I seem to have.  I read a call for baby items on the Charity Knitting Group on Ravelry for The Maya Midwives of ACAM Maternity Center in Concepcion Chiquirichapa, Guatemala.

I've been using two free patterns: the Baby Boy 5-Hour Sweater and the Basic Newborn Hat.  Both patterns can be sized up or down by changing your needle size.  The sweater does take more than five hours, but it's still pretty quick.

It's been fun going through my button stash to find the perfect buttons for these little gems.  I still haven't decided on the buttons for this sweater.

I've got one more sweater on the needles right now.  I'll see how many I can knit up before I move on to something else. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Free Knitting Patterns

My posting has been spotty because I've just been so busy with work.  I have high hopes for posting more regularly when the semester is over in May.

In the meantime, my needles have been busy with some free knitting patterns.  Free patterns are widely available on the web, and Ravelry allows us to see other people's project notes so we can separate the jewels from the duds.

I knit this pullover, Ink Flare by Black Dog Designs,  a simple a-line pattern in a bright cheerful pink.  I knit the pattern as written except for an added seed stitch border, though some other knitters made the neck opening smaller.  It's a comfy piece that I've been wearing a lot.

I wanted a new pair of fingerless mitts, so I adapted Quo Vadis by Spilly Jane Knits, a free mitten pattern.  The mitts are knitted in worsted weight wool, so they work up fast, and the color work is very easy because the repeats are the same across each row.  This would be a good entry-level project into stranded color work.

I hope everyone is well.  I hope to be around more in the near future.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


I've been MIA for awhile, but going back to work after having a semester off for sabbatical has meant a bit of an adjustment in my schedule.  Then, of course, working and being around a lot of people during the height of the cold and flu season meant that I got what was going around, which knocked me off my game for a few weeks.  I'm happy to be well again.

In the meantime, I made another rag rug on my rigid heddle loom.  I posted a tutorial in 2012, which still brings me lots of blog traffic.   I used a slightly longer 65" warp with this project, and I'll probably go even longer next time.

For this rug I used red cotton for the warp, and various red prints for the weft.

It's a yummy rug for the kitchen.

Off the needles, I finished a pair of socks.   I love knitting striped socks as I can measure my progress with the color changes.   It's hard to stop sometimes because I want to see what the next color will look like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Straw into Gold

I found a bunch of superbulky wool at the thrift store, not knowing what I might do with it.  When the call went out for mittens for children,  I thought I might be able to do some magic.

These mittens are going to children in one school, so I wanted each pair to be different.  I dyed the wool in batches ( and a couple of finished mittens) with Wilton's food coloring, the kind for cake decorating, and a big slug of vinegar.  The washing, dyeing, and vinegar treatment really softened up the wool.

I used Susan B. Anderson's free pattern Outsider Mittens.  It's a quick pattern on number 13 needles, though I made some pairs with number 11s, and I liked the firmer fabric.  The pattern is available in three sizes. 

I hope these will keep some children warmer through the winter months.

RIP Louie

We lost Louie over the weekend to his failing kidneys.  To lose 2 cats in a month is a lot of grief to manage.

Louie was the sweetest cat I've ever had, and he was my sewing room companion.

Now he's in Cat Heaven with Wee.  (That's Bunny with him in the picture, she's still very much with us).

Louie and Wee are running in the grass and climbing trees together.