Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just in Time for February

Just in time for February I have actually finished my sweater. 
Pattern:  February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne
Yarn:  Patons Silk Bamboo in Moss (it leans a little more toward yellow than the above picture)
Needles: Size US 8, 32" I think?
Button:  vintage, out of my grandmother's notions

This is my first garment for me!  I thought about giving it away instead of fixing it, but I spent a LOT of time on it.  And I wouldn't want anyone else to see the ends I wove "in" (ha) under the arms when it was two hours past my bedtime. 
There were many stops and starts.  Shall we review:
~I had problems getting the yarn-overs over the joints on my circular needles, so I finally decided to skip the lace portion and just knit stockinette instead.  (My Addis are so worth the money.  I will never buy cheap circulars again.) 
~I knitted the whole thing only to see it was entirely humongous on me.
~I ripped all the way back into the garter stitch portion.  Besides being all-around too big, I really wanted the transition to be at or above my bust line and it was an inch or two below. 
~I knit it back down to about hip length.
~Once I got all that done, I washed and blocked it....  Thanks to the weight of the bamboo, the sweater grew four inches!!  Easily four inches, maybe even more. 
~I had to (gulp) cut my knitting.  Okay, I didn't have to cut it but I knew it would be the fastest way to the end result.  Plus, I had to show this sweater who is boss. 
snip snip snip

Here's the first version (left), too big around.  The second time I ended at about the same place, right at my hip.  Then I blocked it (right).  I knew the bamboo was likely to grow but I never imagined it would grow so much!  . 

Finally this morning, I cut off the bottom several inches, picked up stitches and bound off.  I didn't want to redo the garter edge on the bottom so I tried this new bind-off I found last night in Toe Up!  It's called the yarn over bind off.  It worked pretty well. 

Note to self: next time, wash the swatch.  There's a great article I just saw on gauge swatching,  how and why, and about the importance of "dressing" your swatch.  I believe that was in Knit Simple?  (Don't quote me on that but I was just flipping through the newsstand knitting magazines so I know it's out there somewhere.)  Oh if only I had read that four months ago.  But I might as well learn it the hard way so I won't forget!   

Friday, January 29, 2010


Yesterday I took some photos for Marly of her mittens.  My sister graciously agreed to model for me on her lunch hour.  I took some pictures right outside her office.  There's a busy highway and a big building behind her but you can't tell because it was a cold and snowy afternoon!  I designed these pictures to be so white and I'm giddy about how they turned out! I just wish I'd had some of my own projects to shoot. 

On a slightly different topic, you know what they say about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder.  That's very true, don't you find?  But beauty and artistic talent are not the same thing.  I don't know if you're anything like me, but I've seen some pretty hideous stuff in galleries and museums.  Then I really stop and think about it, and I know, it's not something I could duplicate.  Someone has talent, there, they just aren't using it the way I would.  My point is that some talent is not necessarily appreciated by the beholders but that doesn't mean it's missing. 

I have been thinking a lot about art class, lately; the many I've taken and all the things I've learned.  It's funny how I thought those silly acronyms were silly, but years later, I still remember them.  One thing I learned in my first college art class was that designing with white in mind, and leaving white in the background because I don't know what else to use that space for are not the same thing.  (In fact, anything besides line drawings with white on the page was automatically a grade lower!)  Hence the difference between white rooms that are designed and white rooms that look like a blank canvas.   

I'm coming back around to where this mental train started from:  color. I was recently given this book: ColorSense Creative Color Combinations for Crafters by Susan Levin.  It is simply about color combinations: primary, tertiary, complimentary, etc.  The first 22 pages have text but after that, it's all colors. Literally hundreds, maybe thousands of color combinations fill this book.  Lots of great ideas.  One tip I've always remembered with regard to picking a color scheme for quilts is when you find that ad in a magazine that you love visually, rip it out and save it.  Next time you're designing a quilt (scrapbook page, room, whatever) you can use that ad as a starting point.  I just discovered this website where you can play with color combinations, too.  Lots of neat stuff out there. 

If you're wondering just which station I jumped onto this train from, it was Ravelry.  I think I'm going to do a block-a-month knit-a-long.  I just don't know what colors to use!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Red White and Blue

Here are more pictures of the quilt blocks I've been working on.  This quilt is called Star Power and was in the April 2009 American Patchwork and Quilting.  If you go to the link you can see the original on the table.  I liked the fabrics and colors in the original.  The brown sashing in the original is not my favorite.  I don't mind the colors but it changes the shape of the block. 

In order to use the two reds I left out, I had to incorporate a few more fabrics, which means some are now duplicated.  And can you believe it, when I was done, I found another fat quarter.  Honestly!  Some gnomes must be rummaging around in my sewing room, rearranging the stacks!  So at this point, I have fifteen 11-inch blocks, and if I used some scraps and the other left out fabric, I could make two more.  I think it is kind of busy.  Are those bias stripes making your eyes go wonky like they do mine?  I am thinking of blue sashing.  I have about a yard of each of the red with big dots, and the red with flowers.  Should I make setting squares?  Any suggestions?  I think I will hand quilt this as I haven't tried machine quilting, and I really enjoy hand quilting.  I am not sure I could get a big quilt through my machine, either.  Although this is my first machine-pieced quilt, that's what the pattern called for.  It really did zip together quick!   

I thought I was buying Red White and Bold by Sandy Gervais for Moda but as I was working with the fabric I discovered some pieces were not from the same line.  (I bought most of it in fat stacks.)  However, I think all of the fabric is Sandy Gervais. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ups and Downs

This month has been weird for me.  I have kind of had a craft / art funk, and those really throw my brain off track.  I don't know why this is happening.  BFJ thinks this is the cloudiest January we've had in many years, so maybe that has something to do with it.  If you don't live around here, you might be surprised to know that Colorado ranks pretty high with days of sun per year.  This day has been no exception with the ups and downs including this minor set-back...  My head is jammed up lately with knitting thoughts, so I thought I should give quilting a go.  And as someone recently pointed out, this is a quilt blog. 

Yesterday, I finally figured out where I had left a quilt pattern I wanted to try, and I got to work on it.  This afternoon, I finished all the blocks!  Or so I thought.  Somehow, I had left out two fabrics, and it's one of those patterns where you stack and cut them all at the same time, and then shuffle some of the stacks.  So my other two fabrics are on their own - and they're both red.  And the fabric line is from 2008.  Actually, I do have some yardage, and I think I'll be able to make it work.  But just like most things today, it did not go as planned. 

Here are my blocks hanging by the stairs, waiting for me to realize that they aren't all there.  I know, you can't really tell what they are.  Just as I was going to find a better angle, I noticed that blocks were missing, and that ended the photo session.  I will post another picture when I get time; I was planning to ask how you all think I should set them, as I didn't really like the sashing in the original.  

But the day ends on a high point!  My friend Thimbleanna saved it with a very lovely note.  She test-knitted my sock pattern, and her socks turned out so cute!  She blogged them and has lots of great pictures.  Hurray for test-knitters; Anna found some mistakes in the pattern and gave me great feedback.  The best thing about this situation, though, was visiting with her on the phone!  Her blog is one of my favorites, no matter what she's writing about.  Thanks Anna!!   

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old Pictures

Thanks for your many kind comments on my photos! Someone asked if I was depressed.  No, not really; I just have the January Blahs.  Recently, someone my husband used to play in a band with asked if I would scan some pictures, and I finally got around to scanning them - and a bunch of others, tonight.  I am surprised, and relieved, to see how much my photography has improved in the past ten or fifteen years.   
We celebrated our anniversary last month, more than ten years, less than fifteen.  I have had a lot of hairdos since I met him.  One thing I love about him, he always thinks my new hairdo is the best one.  Here's a few from the past, if you are curious: 

Aren't we cute?  You can imagine what heartbreakers our kids are gonna be!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Curious Cables

Pattern:  Curious Cables - by me!
Yarn:  Knitting on Impulse's Superwash Merino/Silk in Lupin colorway

I have this new buttony thing on the sidebar there.  It is, somewhat, an experiment in how things work.  It's where you can go to purchase my first ever published knitting pattern!  I made these socks for my mom for Christmas, as previously mentioned, and was encouraged by friends to write a pattern for them, so I did!  Writing the pattern was actually more work than I'd anticipated, (and it's not so much that I have extra time around here) but it was an interesting experience.  Apparently you can't follow the link without being a member of Ravelry, although if you're a knitter and want a pattern, I don't know why you wouldn't want to join Ravelry!  I know there's a way to make it accessible to everyone.  I'll have to figure that out. 

On my birthday a few weeks ago, I went to my knitting group's gift swap.  Everyone was to bring a knitting-related gift, however one wanted to interpret that, and numbers were drawn, gifts were selected, etc.  I ended up with the gift my friend Judy brought, which included some wonderful yarn and a scarf pattern I'd been eyeing.  How did I manage to get the best gift there?  I don't know, but I didn't waste time taking advantage of it.  While I have a wonderful wool knitted hat, and wonderful wool fingerless gloves, my neck has been very neglected and drafty.  Happily the scarf turned out beautifully and I've worn it just about every day since.  It is currently 3° outside, which is 6° warmer than when I dropped the kids off at school!  

Pattern:  Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau
Yarn:  Malabrigo worsted in Autumn Forest

If you don't have it at a shop near you, you can buy Malabrigo here

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bellas and Books

I have a friend with a birthday this week.  She loves the Twilight series, including the movies, so I am making her Bella's Mittens from subliminalrabbit.  So far I have one done: 

Pattern:  Bella's Mittens
Yarn:  Jo Sharp Silkroad Ultra in Tapenade (I hear my LYS will no longer be carrying this as it has to be shipped from Australia!  Too sad, I really like it.)

Modifications:  There are a lot; they are convertible because moms need fingers and they have a thumb hole for texting!  (If anyone responds to this, is not on Ravelry, and wants to know what I did, I will respond with more info.) 

My book group is discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society next week, and next we're reading The Help.  I had links on here but somehow they disappeared and I'm too tired to go track them down. 

I really liked TGL&PPPS, especially the era - post WWII 1940s.  There were some heavy moments in the book but all in all it was fun and entertaining.  That's all for today, I need a nap! 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sage Advice

When the calendar turns to the New Year, garden plans move to the front of my mind.  I guess I just really don't like being cold.  Incidentally, all this knitting has led me back to the wonderful warmth of wool.  But regardless, I still look forward to morning sunbeams and green growth.  My sage advice is simply this:  if you own one square foot of yard, you should plant some culinary sage.  Even in our wintry weather, I went outside a bit ago to get some sage for a recipe I'm making.  My sage plant is still green and growing, although not full like it will be in summer.  It is nice that some of the herbs are perennials here in my zone (USDA 5).  One of the reasons I like this plant so much is because it is so green so early in the spring, and is the last plant to die back.  And it has beautiful purple flowers, too! 

Last spring, I cut my sage to the ground in March.  I can't believe I don't have a better picture of this but regardless, you get the point.  (I also threw on some coffee grounds a la Grounds for Your Garden.) 

And here's how it looked by late September.  (Of course it looked a little healthier in mid summer but I neglected to get a picture of that.)

Once you have this lovely plant growing in your garden, you can use it in all sorts of delicious dishes.  There really is no equivalent to fresh ingredients.  Once I had a bunch of herbs growing in my garden, I had to look up recipes to use them.  One of our favorite sage recipes is Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Potato Gratin with Fresh Sage (wow, that's a title) from Bobby Flay.  Mmmmmm.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm.  These are so awesome, we actually call them Awesome Potatoes at our house.  Just ask my sister; when she lived with us last summer, she found it quite amusing that a battle broke out when someone ate the rest of the Awesome Potatoes without announcing intent to the house.  Actually, I'm making them now, and this is the reason I went out to get some fresh sage this afternoon.  I thought I should tell you about fresh sage.  But, I don't want to oversell it.  You should just try it yourself.