Monday, February 29, 2016

FO: Ballet Bear's Steeked Cardi

This little thing came right out of my brains with the fair isle design yoinked from Alice Starmore's Fair Isle Knitting. It's off-center, but Ballet Bear didn't complain. He did say that he liked the improvised shawl collar, though. 

I used some leftover Knit Picks' Brava, about fifty and some yards of the green and twenty-four of the brown. That yarn is now out of the stash and I learned to steek. For this one, I hand-sewed the steek before cutting to make sure that I grabbed all the yarns and I didn't worry overly much about finishing the inside. Again, Ballet Bear did not complain.

Here's a better picture of the design before I put in the sleeves:

Overall, I give it an B+, would go again, but perhaps with wool next time. Teeny bear sweaters are just about perfect for practicing technique and great for using up little odds and ends of stash.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February is for Finishing: Tidying Up Loose Ends

To be continued...
Out of 31 projects listed in my notebook at the beginning of the month, two were frogged, ten are still in progress, and seven finished, including the five posted here, a bit of mending I didn't bother to post about, and one project that I'll put up soonish. I have 3 1/2 stars out of the twelve I intend to make and almost 30/81 blocks quilted on Iris' quilt. That leaves twelve in the planning or idea stage, thus making a nice healthy queue for me to work on the rest of the year.

I also acquired another large WIP. Our dear neighbors right next to us are moving and were about to get rid of a half-finished shed that had been somewhat damaged by wind and weather. Industrious and frugal person that I am asked if we could have it. They kindly trucked it over to our house and in a couple of afternoons, I got so far as putting the roof on. It won't win any prizes for beauty, but mostly I'm just hoping for a dry place to put the lawnmower. I gave them a couple jars of jam from my personal stock as a thank you and farewell gift.

I liked them, their dog, and their cat very much and I shall miss them.

Of course, nineteen soft arts projects and a shed aren't enough from those who suffer from Da Vinci Disorder. All our lives we look away to the future, to the horizon. Never our minds on where we are. Hmm? What we are doing? Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not... these... um, things.

Oh, right. ::blush:: Ummm... I may have gotten carried away there for a minute.

I'm planning a star sampler quilt for wee Bu in blues and yellows, though I may throw in a bit of rainbow fabric from big sister's quilt, just for because.

If I don't get too distracted by quilt block patterns, I'll be working this week on Iris' quilt some more and on some of the projects that are nearer to finished. March is the Month of Embroidery, which is one of my absolute favorite arts to do, so it'll be a real treat for me to share some of that with you all.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

FO: One for you, one for me

About the second week of January, I finished Laurelhurst, a nice little bit of colorwork just interesting enough to keep me from drooling.

This is Warm Head, Warm Heart, which should be on its way to keep somebody warm in a cold Canadian winter for the 25,000 tuques project. I don't care who you are, nobody needs to be cold.

That's 135 yards total: 109 yards of Aslan Trends del Cerro and the rest in a mystery black worsted yarn gifted to me. 

If I had to do it over again, I'd go down a needle size. It's a good enough hat, but the gauge was a little loosey-goosey for my own head. 
So I did.

This is Laurelhurst for me. 128 yards total in the very same yarns, 113 yards of the red, 15 yards of the black.  I was feeling the tassel instead of the pouf for this one. 

Very jaunty.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February is for Finishing: Love the one you're with

Bentocat is much displeased
My week has been decidedly off-kilter.

The eldest child hasn't been feeling well and had to see the doc today. It's nothing serious, but it was helpful and good to visit the doctor.

But that's neither here nor there, except to say that it was important to put love and attention toward helping her feel better because that's what moms do.

This doesn't look much different, but as of now, I'm at 25/81 blocks quilted, so 30.86% and I feel like I'm picking up speed now that I'm closer to the edge.

I've finished another one of these and started yet another one in the silver yarn. I'm at 3/12 stars, which is 25%.

This week has been about loving the one I'm with. When I'm with the quilt, I try to think about how cozy and warm it is and how Iris is going to feel snuggling under it. I love it because I love her and it's all bright, happy colors.

I'm loving the stars just for the love of knitting and yarn itself. They're fiddly and difficult in places, but they're just so darn cheerful and it's really satisfying to see one finished and stuffed, ready to hang on a tree come December.

I have loved the needled arts since I was small and I wouldn't continue if I didn't still love it. February is for Finishing is an excellent opportunity to help me remember why I love what I've already started, which further feeds a desire to work on those over the shiny new ideas and projects. It's a good opportunity to narrow my focus and love the one I'm with.
Wishing you lots of love this week.

March isn't far off, and we'll be looking at different forms of embroidery. I might even do some cross-stitch, you guys. Brace yerself.

Gratuitous flower picture. These just bloomed today.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February is for Finishing: Just Keep Stitching


is not a small project. As of today, I have 20/81 squares, plus some, quilted and a number of perforations on my left middle and index fingers. I seem to be picking up speed now that I have the use of a quilting hoop (thank you, Bekah) and a good rhythm going. Still, I have three quarters left to quilt, plus the binding and a little over two weeks left in the month. It's probable that I won't finish by March, but I'm going to give it the old college try.

I have a natural inclination toward sticktoitiveness, which is likely an extension of OCD. It's not just that I like to finish things, but rather that whatever malfunction in the brain prevents me from scrubbing my shower without going crazypants also comes up with universe-ending scenarios if things don't get finished. I have to finish.

Well, it's that and no little bit of non-crazypants stubbornness. I've often thought that sometimes the difference between greatness and mediocrity is just the willingness to stick with something to its completion.

Even with all that, I do get overwhelmed by very large projects. If I thought about the entire quilt, I'd feel crushed under the (cozy and warm) enormity of it, so I take it in chunks. What's in the hoop isn't much to do, really, so I do that.
This block, this length of thread, this square, or this stitch are all that I hold in my mind at one time. The rest is irrelevant for now.

Just keep stitching.




And if all else fails, I take a break for a little while. 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

February is for Finishing: Taking stock

As you have likely noticed, I've finished a whole whack of neglected projects in the past few days. February is for Finishing is a fine tradition here at House of M and something I've done with my two dearest friends, Bekah and Koren, for some years. Usually, it's knitted things, but this year, I wanted to look very honestly at all my soft arts projects and see if I couldn't get some things out of my sizable pile of projects in progress.

The first thing to do is to tidy up.

To the left and below are what my crafting areas looked like a couple of weeks ago. I don't generally like to show my messes, but these are the result of rampant creativity.
I have lots of ideas, lots of inspiration, and it all just kind of physically accumulates in these two spots.

Before February began, I made a concerted effort, not only to clean up, but to list every project in these piles so that I know what, exactly, I have going on.
I found my end table.

I've also discovered that I can actually put my coffee there and I can put my computer there when I want to use my sewing machine (off camera to the right is my desk where both computer and sewing machine sit).

My other desk is a fold-up number, which is super handy for a small space, but not when it's so full of stuff that you can't actually fold it up. 

Once that was done, I had a complete list of every project I'd started or gathered the materials for and ended up with thirty-one. The greater majority of those are only in the planning stage, but I'd gotten as far as collecting the materials for the job. One or two were only in the idea stage. 

Four, as you've likely seen, have been finished since the beginning of the month and two pairs of socks have been frogged to reclaim the needles and to start again at a later date. That leaves me with twenty-five total projects on the pile, approximately half of which are in progress. Following the tradition of the Annual Airing of the WiPs, they are as follows:
  1. A 9-patch pastel quilt that has several blocks sewn, but not enough. 
  2. Stjarna, by Karolina Eckerdal. My goal is an even dozen stars for purposes of Yule ornaments and I have two finished.
  3. Laurelhurst by NW Foraged. This is the second hat in this pattern that I've made, the first was for 25000 tuques and this one is for me. I'm just to the bottom of the color work pattern.
  4. The art jeans. You've seen me work on these off and on. I don't expect to finish any time soon. 
  5. Ballet Bear's steeked cardi. This is an experiment that is no skin off my nose if it fails. It might take a couple of days to finish. I haven't steeked before and a tiny cardigan for a bear seems like the way to go for experimentation. It isn't wool, though, and may be doomed to failure.
  6. Crocheted Bed Scarf, inspired by the architecture of Chicago. I've done a goodly stack of blocks, but have a fair amount of yarn that I want to put into still yet to go. I might make some progress this month, but don't plan to finish.
  7. TARDIS bag, which is a lot of fiddly stitching, but will probably look awesome if I ever finish it. I probably won't get to it this month.
  8. Blackwork Bird Pillow that I started last month during the Month of Mending. I'm well into the snowflake border and the center is sketched out
  9. Two small blackwork samplers, which were started at the same time as the pillow. One is nearly done, the other sketched out.
  10. White silk spinning. All but about an ounce has been spun up into singles. This has a high likelihood of getting finished since I like to spin a little just before bed if I have time.
That's not too bad of a list, really, and some of that is certainly to be worked on this month. I may even finish a couple of those things, but there is one final project that will be the focus of my efforts:

11. Iris' quilt. "I'll finish before she goes to college" is less funny when the child in question is in high school. As it stands, I have 16/81 blocks quilted, which works out to about 20%. 

It was deeply satisfying to knock off several FOs early in the month, but now that I've started back on this behemoth, that's going to slow down considerably. It's harder to take this one to work on during dance class, though, so several of the smaller projects have hope of getting finished before the month is out.

Good luck in your finishing endeavors this month, my fellow makers. By next week, I hope to have whittled down the list of WiPs even more and I'll share some pictoral updates on my progress. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

FO: Plaid Pajama Pants

I've had this pair of pants in my pile for quite a long time. Up until now, they've been mostly, but not quite wearable.

I finished the seams with a zigzag stitch over the edge, fixed a blown seam up one leg, sewed up some slashes I'd made at the side, and installed some elastic to replace the drawstrings.

The observant among you will notice there's a drawstring in them.

The fabric I used is a little heavy and, unfortunately, because of the way I put the elastic in, it doesn't spring back as much as I'd like it to. The drawstring solves that problem and the elastic plus drawstring is much better than just the drawstrings.

I now have twice as many pajama pants and one less project in the pile. I call this one a win.

Monday, February 01, 2016

FO: A bit of jeans mending

I feel like I'm batting a hundred today. 

Here's a sashiko patch in a "woven bamboo" pattern.

And some blackwork just above the patch where the fabric is getting thin. The thread matches pretty closely to the color of the jeans, so it should be mostly invisible. I'll know it's there, though.

Honestly, I'm not sure these are done-done or if they ever will be done. There are some weak spots near the pockets and belt loops that will need attention soon, but they're done enough to go back into the rotation.

FO: Two quick repairs

What better way to wrap up the Month of Mending and to begin February is for Finishing than with a couple of things that had been sitting on my mending pile for too long.

The first is a t-shirt that, by a mistake of manufacture, had a hole in the shoulder.
 Here's the inside, repaired with a blanket stitch and double running stitch to mimic the stitches of a serger.
And here's the outside. There's a slight puckering at either end of the repair, but it will be hardly noticeable when worn.
 The second repair is a pair of dress pants that Husband wears to work. There's a blown out seam at the corner of the pocket...
...and another blown-out seam in a rather more delicate place.

 The pocket was sewn up on the inside using a back stitch.
And the seam of great delicacy was sewn up using invisible stitching (blind stitch), first on the up-and-down seam and then the side-to-side seam.

Dignity now restored, these pants can return to work.