Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Knitting

I don't show a lot on knitting-in-progress, though I usually have at least 2 projects going at any one time. I think that looking at unfinished knitting is akin to watching paint dry, but finished knitting is like looking at toys or candy. Here is a display of a few projects I finished over the summer.

The first is Splash, a vest pattern by Wendy Bernard. It has a clever construction--the shoulder is seamless. You make a provisional cast-on, and then knit down the back to the bottom of the arm holes. Then you pick up the stitches from the cast-on edge, and knit down the front to the bottom of the harm holes, join front and back, and knit the body to the hem.

Designers are very big these days on garments that don't need any seaming, and I think a lot of newer knitters have an unreasoned fear of seams that makes these patterns popular. I don't mind seaming, and I think they often lend garments structure, but this was a fairly quick knit and made a cute vest. The body is meant to hang straight from the bust, but I made mine A-line, which suits me better. The yarn was recylced from a thrift store sweater that I unwound. It's 100% wool tweed, and the color is very cheerful.

I also knit a Shalom vest, which is a free pattern by Meghan Mc Farlane. It's also knit seamlessly from the top down. All the yarn for this vest was bought at the thrift store. It's unusual to find sweater quantities of yarn second hand, but I did score this discontinued Patons acrylic-wool blend in a bulky weight in the exact quantity I needed. Some days the recycling gods send you a small gift. Of course the buttons cost me twice as much as the yarn, but that's the way it goes.

I get to knit even in summer because it never gets hot in this coastal climate, and this year has been unusually foggy. Small knit projects are also great for travel, and I knit most of this Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl , a free pattern by Sarah Bradberry, on a trip. I made great progress on this shawl when I got stuck overnight at the San Francisco airport when trying to get home from Albuquerque. Note to self: pack lots of knitting for plane trips.

This shawl was knit from one ball of sock yarn: Deborah Norville's Premier Serenity Sock Yarn, which is a blend of wool, bamboo and nylon. I knit it on a U.S. size 10 needle, and before binding off knitted every stitch twice so the edge would been extra stretchy. I blocked it aggressively to open the lace, after throwing a bit of liquid starch in the rinse water. This shawl went to Michael's daughter for her birthday.

I'm finishing the second sleeve of a cardigan that I hope to show soon, then I think I'm going to cast on a massive shawl and use up some coned wool I've got stashed. There are some nice small shawl patterns I've been eyeing, and I'll probably mix in a few of those too. This will be the Fall of the shawl.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Charmed I'm Sure (70 x 80")

Over the past few months I've cut a lot of my stash (especially the smaller pieces) into 5" squares and into strips of various widths. This quilt top was pieced from some squares I fussy cut. I sashed the blocks with some of the pre-cut strips, and added a piano key border. This top will go to Debra and she'll quilt and donate this top along with others she's making.

I also finally finished piecing this top, which has been a few years in the making. The basic units are 16-patches made of 2" blocks, and 3.5 inch half square triangles.

This top was done except for one of the long outer borders. I must've gotten completely sick of making these blocks, so I just folded it up and put it in the Closet of Doom. Once I had my new Singer 185 installed on the kitchen table, I decided to make up the remaining blocks and finish the border on this poor quilt. Of course it came together very quickly. I think this one will likely go to Debra too because I can't foresee a specific need/ recipient for this quilt. I just needed to make it, and now that it's done, I can let it go.

With some of the remaining 2" strips I made 4-patches for these blocks. Debra shared the link to this great method for making half-square triangles. Scroll down until you find the short tutorial for Fast and Easy Pinwheels on the right of the page, and your approach to the hst will be revolutionized. To get 4 of these 3.5" half square triangles, start with 2- 5.5" squares.

It looks like another scrappy donation quilt is in the works.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Vintage Baby Saque

I've been straightening the stash, and I came across this baby saque. I've had it so long, I don't remember where it came from. It's pre-printed with a design for embroidery, and it had little holes around the edges of the finished garment. Michael's son and and daughter-in-law are expecting their second baby, and it's a girl, so it seemed time for this project to get made.

I think these little projects were once widely available. They seem like the kind of think you could have once bought at the 5 and 10 and embroidered for your baby. I imagine that this one is from the 50s or 60s, but maybe someone has a better memory of this than me.

I quickly embroidered the front, but then I had to figure out how those holes figured into the finished saque. After surfing the net, I saw a photo of a similar garment. The holes are for crocheting an edging.

It's almost scary that I had the right size crochet hook (I think a 7) and some DMC cotton in the exact color I needed. After giving the piece a much-needed wash, which removed the markings, I trimmed a narrow hem around the edge and added a row of single crochet. I was planning to do a picot edge, but I like the plain look.

I remember that these baby gowns used to come with ribbon ties, which to me are totally impractical. I added buttons and added a row of button holes to the crochet.

Voila! Finished at last.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Beautiful Flower, Bountiful Garden (41 x 41)

I put the binding on a quilt Debra and I made in a round-robin. "Beautiful Flower, Bountiful Garden" or, as we usually call it, the pink madonna, is our first joint madonna quilt collaboration, though we've been bouncing ideas off each other on this series of quilts for years. If you haven't seen it, we have a blog The Madonna Idea, which includes the bulk of the madonna quilts we've made.

The center of the quilt is a pre-printed panel flanked by some of Debra's machine embroidered blocks. She gave these blocks to me when we met at IPQF in Long Beach a couple of years ago, and I immediately knew they were meant somehow to go with the panel. From there we went back and forth a few times, each of us adding a round of blocks. Debra came up with the text for the embroidered ribbon: "Oh holy mother, beautiful flower of our life's bountiful garden." The results are, I think, seamless.

The quit is the center of my newly-decorated home office. With all that color and pattern, the rest of the room is quite subdued: a calm palatte for this and some of my other favorite quilts.

On the opposite wall, I've put two chairs and I've hung some of my favorite small quilts. For hangers in this room I bought some tall bamboo poles (found at the garden center), and I painted them black. They hang on some single coat hooks that I screwed into the wall.

The rocking chair was my grandmother's. I recovered some pillows I had around the house with black and cream fabric.

I bought this wing chair and the footstool at two different used furniture stores. The cats like this room a lot, and I can see that I'm going to have to fight them for the chairs.

At the entrance to the room, I hung I my St. Theresa piece. The room has a very peaceful vibe.

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...