Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crochet Bag

Acrylic yarn is like rabbits. You start with one or two balls, and when you turn around you've got a closet full and you're not quite sure where it all came from. When I started knitting again recently I started stashing wool yarn. Eventually I weeded out most of the odd balls of old acrylic yarn that was taking up space, but which I had no plans to use. I donated a big bag to a local group that teaches knitting in the jail. It was freeing to clear out that space.

But then, after Christmas, my aunt gave me her yarn stash. Most of the four xerox paper boxes were full of acrylic yarn. While I was sick with the flu, I felt like doing something mindless and quick, and I decided to make this pattern. You hold three strands of yarn together and use a simple single crochet stitch. When I ran out of one color, I tied on a related color. I used a size K hook and ad-libbed the handle.

It's a nice big basket-like bag. I could line it, but I like the thick texture, even on the inside. And between the wool shawls I've knit. and this bag, all my aunt's yarn fits in three boxes now. Now that's progress

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blue Period

I've made all the blocks for this charity quilt and I've got the quilt designed. I have used up all the pre-cut squares I had made, and I found more of the yellow and white in my stash to finish up the corner squares. Finally putting this quilt together, I remembered why I liked this block design in the first place.

The quilt measures about 72 x 80. One of the long print strips (on the far right) is narrower than the one at the far left, and I may leave them uneven. In this design, I don't think it matters that they're not symmetrical. I should have time this weekend to stitch the top together.

That's a swatch of Debra's backing fabric to the right of the quilt. It's hard to see in the photo, but it coordinates nicely with he quilt. I have almost exhausted my supply of blue fabric, but not quite. I've got a nice pile of leftovers from this project for another quilt, and the backing fabric has some tan in it that I can use to stretch the blues. There may be another blue quilt coming. Then I think I'll need to shift colors. I'm ready to work in red.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Knitwear Wrap Up

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes. I'm feeling much much better. Being couch bound has, however, given me the opportunity to finish up the sleeves on my February Lady Sweater, which has been hibernating for a bit. I'm so happy with how this sweater came out. It's a very flattering pattern, and I used up 2 skeins of Cascade 220 and 2 of Peer Gynt in 2 different colors. I feel very crafty for having made up a sweater from these odds and ends.

Here I am in one of those Facebook-style pictures in the bathroom mirror. It's okay that you can't see my face since my nose was so red and my eyes so watery that I was quite a sight. I had 3 perfect vintage buttons in my button box to complete the sweater.

Before I got sick I finished my second Truly Tasha's shawl. I sent this one to my mom. It's knit on a larger needle (size 8) than my first Tasha shawl, and it knit up faster, but is still substantial.

Last week I knit this Thorpe cap for Allie, who's currently visiting a friend in Canada for her Spring break. I didn't have the required bulky wool in my stash so I combined one strand of worsted and a strand of sport weight wool, and it came out perfectly.

For my Spring break I got my paperwork ready for my visit with my tax preparer and I will be grading papers and hopefully working on an academic essay I've been trying to finish for too long. I also have had Alex to myself, which is nice because we've had some good talks about his plans for next year. He's graduating from high school in June, and is coming up on deadlines to respond to offers of college admission, and there is always the option of military service, which he finds enticing, but I think he's pretty much decided to give college a try. At least that what he says. Today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pass the Kleenex

I've caught this nasty virus that it seems half the people here in town have. The nice man at Long's said he'd had it too as he rang up my purchases: a jumbo box of kleenex with lotion, Vicks vapo-rub, nasal decongestant spray, and cough drops. I felt so crappy I actually stayed home from work Thursday and Friday.

I've spent a lot of hours on the couch watching tv and knitting. I've developed a love of BBC America and Gordon Ramsey's two food shows The F Word and Kitchen Nightmares. He's much more likable in these than in the American version of his show Hell's Kitchen. I'll have photos of the knitting soon.

I have composed the center of my charity quilt for the women's shelter clients. I've added home dec fabric to some of my orphan blocks. This kind of row design is my new favorite. I realized after I got the fabric up on the wall that the two strips are of two different widths. I'll fix that later. After I get up off the couch. Maybe in a couple of days.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Starting With a Clean Slate

I recently took down my design wall. It's been up there for years, but one of the cats clawed it and pulled out one of the tacks holding the flannel to the wall, and so it was bagging in one spot. I got up on a chair with a hammer to fix it and it was so dusty and full of threads that I pulled the whole thing down and washed and dried it. When I hung it back up on the wall, it was like starting with a blank page, a clean slate. It was like staring over in my quilting life.

Of course in order to remove the thing I had to take down all the half-started, trials and errors and false starts I had pinned up. They're now neatly piled up and waiting until I'm ready to give them my full attention. In their place, I've put up my bird series as inspiration, and I'm going to make a big quilt for Debra's women's shelter clients. This quilt is meant to compliment some backing fabric she's posted as inspiration. If you want to play along, she probably has enough fabric for more quilts.

I'm starting with some orphan blocks. I made a ton of these blocks awhile ago, and I've used some of them for various smaller projects, but I still have plenty. I do have a lot of fabric cut, so my goal is to make up as many of these blocks as possible and to use them in the quilt.

It's a basic four-patch block made up of 4.5" squares. The corner triangles make it look like a more complex version of a snowball block.

My supplies are ready. Blank slate. New project.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Yes, Baby Quilts Again

I think I'm done with baby quilts for awhile. They are fabulous creativity exercises and stash busters. They're quick, so you don't get bored before you're done. These are utilitarian, destined for Debra's charity quilt effort, so there's not a lot at stake if you put random fabrics together on a whim. I made this quilt in a couple of hours yesterday. I took a remnant of Winnie the Pooh fabric and a stack of various blue strips.

Instant baby quilt.

Here's a close-up of another one. I pulled from what Finn would call my orphan block stash and included a couple of blocks Debra embroidered that were left over from another project. Most of this fabric had been cut into half-square triangles for a project I never made because I decided I didn't like these fabrics together after all.

When I ran short of a few hst blocks, I threw in some solid blocks. I think it made a very fresh and graphic quilt for a baby, or maybe the center of a larger quilt.

Here's the finished top I started last week from the 4-patches and the Vera-like fabric. I think that blue floral print may have been a piece of sheet or curtain.

This last one was make almost entirely of orphan blocks from other projects. I made the shoo-fly blocks awhile back, but the toile I used made them look muddy, so I set them aside. I deliberated a lot about the strips between the rows, and auditioned a lot of fabrics before I settled on these light colored strips.

It's a little busy, but I do like this one.

Here's what I learned from the process: pre-cut strips are an asset. If I needed a piece of sashing or some 4-patch blocks, it was great to leaf through my strips to see what was already cut. I've made a big dent in my store of 2.5 and 3.5" strips, so I'm going to cut into some of my fabrics and replenish the drawer. Orphan blocks are great starters for these little projects too. I think I've gone through a lot of stash in the process, but more importantly, I've uncovered some works-in-progress that I want to go back and finish. It's been a mind de-cluttering as well as a destash exercise. Next I'll be making a larger quilt for Debra's efforts, then I'm going to round up some the ghost projects that are haunting my sewing room, and finish them up and show them the light of day.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...