Spring Sewing

Last night, I heard from our backyard the first spring peeper peeping.  He sounded a little slow and lonely with no one answering him, but he made me feel hopeful.  Signs of spring are popping up and this long winter will soon be behind us.

I haven’t been doing a lot of sewing the past few months, but I’m on the schedule for my do.good.stitches charity quilting group to plan the quilts for April and May.  So, this week, I thought I should probably get working on some plans!  Naturally, I started with the last quilt that I organized, way back in October!  At some point, I had pieced all the blocks together to get a top, but it needed a back.  I had a few extra blocks that I decided to try to incorporate into the back, which meant that I needed to piece the back.  It took awhile, and lots of pieces, but I did manage to get it done and sandwiched with some batting.

I am very pleased with the front.  As for the back…well, I’m not so happy with that.  I think the quilt blocks kind of get lost in all the different fabrics I used, but I’m going to leave it alone.

I didn’t have time to quilt it this week, but I hope to get to it in April sometime.  It would be good to finish because I’ve got two more charity quilts that will be coming in for me to assemble in the next couple of months.  I really needed to get those planned first.

The first block I planned was inspired by the book, No Scrap Left Behind by Amanda Jean Nyberg of the blog CrazyMomQuilts.  In the book, she makes a scrappy rail fence quilt that I thought would be a great way to use up some of those strip scraps that everyone has in their scrap bins.  I pulled out a bunch and cut up strips that were 5 inches long and anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches wide.  As it turns out, most of them were blue or pink, so I decided to go with that for my color scheme.

Once sewn randomly together, I trimmed them down to 4.5 inches by 12.5 inches long.  Then, I paired two of them with a white print of the same size to get this.

For my quilt group, I am asking for three of these 12.5 square blocks.

For my next quilt block, I really wanted to used up some scrap half square triangles that I have been collecting for awhile.  Whenever I have a block that calls for sewing two squares together and then trimming them, I always sew another line a half inch from the original line.

Then, after trimming,  I get a lot of these little half square triangles.

This is just a small sampling.  I actually have a bin half full of them.  Many are small, like this, made from sewing 2.5 inch squares.  Some are larger, though.   I picked out some that I had in sets of 8 and decided to sew up some sawtooth stars.  For the center, I also pulled from my scrap bin.

These little stars measure 5.5 inches, finished.  I have long been inspired by Lynn Carson Harris, who also wrote an incredible quilt book about using scraps called Every Last Piece.  Her Stardust quilt has always captivated me.  For my second quilt block, I thought we could do something similar, but on a different scale and more improv-like.  I had been looking for ways to use up some low volume scraps, and I thought it would be fun to combine those scraps log cabin style with these scrappy sawtooth stars.

I just started pulling out strips of those low volume scraps and started sewing without much of a plan, not really bothering if the strip was too long or if it was a true rectangle.  It helps to iron and trim after sewing on each strip.  This resulted in some slantiness, but I decided that I liked that.  Halfway through, I also decided they would probably be more visually interesting if the stars were offset from the center.

I trimmed these blocks to be 14.5 inches square.  I found from my Trip Around the Garden quilt that 24 of those sized blocks make a nice twin size quilt.

I’m asking everyone in my group to make at least two.   The stars can be any size, as long as it is not bigger than 6 inches.  I want there to be a lot of negative space between the stars.  I kinda went a little crazy and made four because they were just that much fun.  With the number of half square triangles in my bin, I could make a lot more, but I ran out of low volume scraps.

Well, I hope everyone in my group enjoys making these blocks.  I can’t wait to see all the blocks I get and how they look together.

Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

 

 

 

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Still No Sign

This post could also be titled, “Be Careful What You wish For”.  Last week, I was complaining about our lack of snow.  That night, as predicted, all that rain turned to snow and we woke up with a view that looked like this.

Unfortunately, we also woke up with no electricity.  We were one of thousands, actually, without power in our town, not to mention the state in which we live.  The storm took down countless trees and branches, so much so that it was difficult getting around because of road closures.  Fortunately, we got the power back after about 20 hours and though we lost a few branches off some trees, we have no major damage.

While our power was out and we were “off the grid”, I did some weaving and managed to get to the end of my warp.  I was a little disappointed because there was a lot of yarn leftover and I had hoped to use it all.  However, the piece itself was not really lacking in length.  I’m not really a huge fan of fringes, so I decided to try making a cowl out of this piece to see how it would look.  I used my sewing machine to sew together the ends, capturing the edges in a seam so that I could cut off the fringe.  Then, I convinced one of the boys to model it for me.

You can see how long it is here, but it wraps up nicely.  If I made it longer, it might be able to wrap around three times, but two loose-ish wraps is all I can get out of this one.

It’s quite wide, so there are actually a lot of ways it can be worn.  Here you can see it can be kind of like a hoodie.

The husband said I looked like a character out of a Star Wars movie.  I don’t know about that!  Now, I would like to get started on another one, but I got a little distracted by a new knitting project.

This is going to be a jacket sweater for the husband.  Lately, he brought a sweater home from work that I made for him years ago.  The sweater was in fine shape and just needed a wash, but I was unhappy with the way it looked. Over the years, I think my skills and style preferences have changed and I thought that sweater could use a replacement.  After all, he wears it almost every day at the office, which means EVERYone he works with sees it.  I know that really it’s fine and he likes it, but I no longer like it, which means it needs to be replaced, right?

Anyway, every time I look for a sweater to knit for the husband, I find that there are very few out there that I really want to make.  Plus, I was having some stash problems.  I tend to buy yarn in sweater amounts suitable for me, and even though I always buy a little extra, that little extra is usually not enough for a men’s sweater.  Then, taking some inspiration from my recently finished Carbeth, I thought to combine two yarns to make a chunkier weight, which would in turn require less total combined yardage for a sweater.  Yay!  And to solve to pattern problem, I’ve decided to make it up as I go along.  I did a quick gauge swatch and just dove right in.  I think I will call it the Skylar jacket since I started it the day before we were hit with winter storm Skylar.

This time, thankfully, we did not lose power, so I was able to knit comfortably, cook a yummy dinner, and bake some cookies.

All activities that make up a perfect snow day.

Spring is supposed to be just a week away, but that seems rather unlikely, doesn’t it?  That’s ok by me, though, because this view is pretty nice.

And I have an excuse to keep working on my chunky sweaters.

Not Spring Yet

Today, we are supposed be getting a Nor’easter storm that they say will give us potentially 12-16 of snow. It’s been snowing all day, but nothing has stuck yet.   It’s just melting as it hits the ground.  So, I am having a hard time believing that we will actually get any accumulation, but this is probably because I lived in the South all my life where I was conditioned to never to believe forecasts of snow because they invariably were wrong.  However, here in New England, I have to say, the snow forecasts have been quite accurate, at least for the time we have been living here.  I heard this week on the radio forecast that this storm is supposed to be a ‘regular’ Nor’easter (as opposed to the bomb cyclone kind) and would come with just 4-8 inches of snow.

Anyway, as we sit here and watch the snow fall outside and wait for the storm to really arrive, I feel a little like that snow that falls on the ground and just melts.  Sometimes, it seems that I work on things for a long time and nothing seems to happen.  Or, I am busy all day for days, but don’t seem to be making any progress, but I know that’s not true.  It’s just that progress is sometimes invisible.

Take for example my weaving project.  At first glance, it looks pretty much the same as the last picture I showed you.

However, I am actually half finished.  Or at least, I used half of my yarn.  I may actually be closer to finishing than I want to be because I don’t think my warp threads are long enough.    I work on this in the few minutes I have here and there throughout the day.  It’s easy to stop and start and it moves along quickly as well.  Just 12 minutes after the photo above was taken, I had woven about 6 inches and it looked like this.  Then, I wound it up and it looked the same as above.

Life is a lot like this, I think.  It’s work, work, work, everyday and nothing seems to change, but take a minute to step back and look at the big picture, and you realize, actually, quite a lot has changed.  I spent some time this week looking for a new sweater project.  I had the pattern and wanted to use yarn in my stash, but after spending a lot of time sifting through my yarn, I came to the realization that I did not have the right yarn and abandoned the idea.  Was that a waste of time?  I don’t know.  Because of that failed project start, I went back to my happy stripey cardigan.  Noro yarns are so fun to knit with because the color changes can be surprising, but somehow they all work together.  In the skein, these had an autumnal/halloweeny feel to the colors, but knit up like this, I see it is more springlike than I thought.

And just because I could not start the sweater I wanted to, I decided to start another sweater that had the pattern AND yarn ready and waiting.  Also, it’s a bulky weight sweater and I thought I better get it started while it’s still cold and so I Cast on the appropriately named Avalanche sweater by Heidi Kirmaier.   So, usually no progress in one area, just means that progress is being made somewhere else.

This one is not as fast as Carbeth, but I also haven’t spent much time on it.  It’s all scrunched up on the needles right now, so it is hard to see, but there is some lace and a couple of cables, too.  I think I’ll devote more time to it tonight since it feels more wintery today. It’s hard to believe we had a day last week that was almost 70 degrees.  But, even though daylight savings is this week, and I heard that the meteorological first day of spring has already passed, it does not look like spring outside.

However, it does look like spring with my knitting.

I told you I would be knitting pink things next.  Maybe spring will come faster if I knit with spring colors?  But I do have some blue things on my mind too.

 

The Finish Line

Pretty much all I have done for the past two and half weeks is watch the olympics and knit while watching.  Ok, well, that’s not ALL I did, but I sure did do quite a lot and I have two finished sweaters to prove it.

Knitting the stranded yoke on the husband’s Skogafjall while watching was challenging, but I made it through and all turned out well.  I’m still working on the tension in my stranded knitting.  I think during this project, I concluded that I was knitting too loosely, which was making my stitches look quite uneven, especially over the longer floats.  So, I tried to tighten up a little, which definitely helped.  I hope to make another one of these for myself, so I will get a little more practice with the stranded knitting.

Here it is on the husband just after I had finished it, but before I blocked it.  He was very pleased with it, except for the length.  For some reason, the pattern calls for the body length to be 18 inches, which is quite long for a sweater!  Well, I could fix it by cutting part of it out and grafting it back together, but I probably won’t do that.

I actually finished that sweater a few days before the olympics was over, so I spent the rest of the olympics working on my Carbeth sweater.

This is an amazingly fast knit.  It would have been even faster had I made the body as short as the pattern called for.  I actually made it 5 inches longer, which brought it to a 13 inch length.  I think that 11 or 12 would have been ok, too, but for me, I would not make it much shorter than that.

Pre-blocking, it was quite puckery around the decreases and I was worried about that, I will not lie.  However, some things really do block out and I was happy about the way this one did after its bath.

I used about 12 different yarns in the sweater, all but two were leftover from other projects.  Somehow, this made me even happier as I was knitting.  It felt so efficient and frugal!  It also seems to open up a lot of new knitting possibilities when one starts combining yarns.  Suddenly, the stash seems to take on a new life.  Laceweight could be combined with other yarns to produce a chunky weight to make more Carbeths!  When a sweater only calls for 600-800 yards of yarn, this becomes suddenly possible with just those lonely one or two skein bits of yarn that you know you’ve been collecting over the years.   Methinks this might not be the last Carbeth I make.

What do you think?

 

Pink is Next

Well, my olympic knitting sweater project is coming along nicely.

As I predicted, it has been nice to have lots and lots of stockinette stitch knitting to do while I watched the hours of olympic sports coverage.  For the first 12 inches, the knitting seemed to just fly by.  I couldn’t believe how fast it was knitting up but then, things sort of ground to a crawl.  I would do an hour or so of knitting, take a measurement, and find that it had not really grown much at all.  This happened several times and is common to all knitters at some point.  We like to call it the black hole of knitting.  Somehow, lots of yarn is being knit, but the project does not grow.  Most likely, it suffers from the malady of overattention.  The solution, of course, is to ignore it entirely and keep knitting, without taking measurements.  Then, inevitably, the knitter will overshoot the mark and have something too long.  Such is the way of knitting.

Fortunately, I had cookies and sleeves to help me along and break up the monotony a little.  A couple of nights ago, I declared the bottom part of the body done ( I was close enough to the required measurements and you know how much measurements lie anyway) and attached the sleeves.  Last night, I began the colorwork.

This is my favorite part.  The only problem is that it is hard to watch the actual olympic sports and pay attention to what color I am supposed to be knitting at the same time.  I will persevere, though, and hope that if I slow down my knitting a little, I will not make any horrendous mistakes.

Meanwhile, I have also been working on my Carbeth sweater here and there.  I finished the first sleeve, which hardly took any time at all, and began the second.  The pattern says to knit the body first and then the sleeves, but I wanted to do the sleeves first so that they would match.  Unfortunately, my weighing system did not work out as well as I had hoped, and I was short about an inch or so of the dark brown for the second sleeve.

This, I knew, would bother me, and since I was not too far along, I went ahead and fixed it, using some of the dark brown I had reserved for the body.  Good thing I knit the sleeves first!  This made me much happier, mostly because I think that, visually, it would be noticeable if the sleeves did not match, but not so jarring if the body does not match the sleeves since they are different shapes.

Things are coming along nicely now, and I am interested to see how the body will look once it’s finished.  I’m planning to make the body longer than the pattern calls for.  It’s too cold around here for a cropped chunky weight turtle-necked sweater.

All the brown and neutral colors were starting to get to me, though.  So, yesterday, I decided to quite waiting for a “convenient time” and warp my long hibernating loom.

Despite doing it wrong ( I warped around the wrong beam in the back), I think it will still work and carried on.  It only took three hours to get it ready to finally to some weaving.  Hopefully, that time will decrease with practice!

The weaving goes fast, though, and I am really enjoying the colors moving past.  This is some variegated yarn stash that I have struggled to find a knitting project for and just last week, I had the inspiration that weaving with it would be perfect and I was right.

For the warp yarn, I am using a giant cone of sock yarn that I bought at a seconds table several years ago at Rhinebeck.  I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn to make several scarves/wraps/cowls with it.  I definitely have plenty of variegated yarn in the stash to use with it as well.  I’m so happy to be weaving again.  I forgot how much I enjoy it.

And the colors are cheering me up during these late winter dreary days.  I think after those two brown sweaters above are done, I’m going to knit some colorful things.  Pink sounds good to me right now.