Monday, June 11, 2018

Novel-T -- My First Sweater

Hi all -

Yep, that's right. I've finished knitting my first sweater! And I'm really excited with how it turned out!! This sweater is from the Novel-T pattern by Laura Nelkin. It's a really interesting construction. You start knitting at the edge of the right sleeve and then knit across the sweater sideways, ending at the edge of the left sleeve. Then you knit the sides together with a narrow lace panel. This was my first project where I had to make an accurate gauge swatch, so I was a little worried about it. But it all turned out well!

I bought a kit for the sweater because that's the only way you could get the pattern this early and they had a good price for the kit. Also, I wanted to join in on the knit-along for this pattern. I'm a big girl so there's a lot of yarn in my kit!

As I said above, you start knitting at the edge of the right sleeve.

Then you add stitches using a provisional cast-on to start the sides.

After some seemingly endless stitching, you split for the neck hole.

Then, you knit and knit and knit, joining the back and front after the neck hole the continuing on to the edge of the left sleeve.

Then you just join the sides with the lace panel and block it.

Here are some close-ups of the side and sleeve lace panels:

I'm really pleased with how it turned out! It actually fits perfectly! I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures of it on, but I live alone and it's really hard to take a picture of yourself that shows the whole sweater. I tried getting a picture using the mirror, but it didn't turn out well. And I don't like pictures of myself anyway, so I'm okay with that.

I'm surprised and happy that my gauge swatch worked so well and I was able to maintain gauge through the entire sweater. Some people had a lot of trouble with that. I guess it's harder to maintain gauge with cotton yarn because it doesn't stretch at all. And I'm proud of how even my stitches look throughout, at least to my eyes. There was some finishing the I decided not to do. The hem is designed to be optionally turned and finished, but I decided to leave it open to get a little more length. Laura also suggests that you crochet around the neckline to give it more stability. I started to do that with a single crochet, but didn't like the look of it so I took it out. I like the way the neckline looks without the crochet, so I decided to leave it this way and can always add some crochet slip stitches around the edge later if it needs it.

I have the supplies to make a couple more summer sweaters. I hope I can find the time to make them!


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Home is Where the Heart Is -- Part 2 of 2

Hi all -

I've finished the quilting on Home is Where the Heart Is and have put on the binding. Tomorrow I'll add the hanging sleeve and the label and then it will be done. Just in time for the June 2 wedding, since I'll be leaving early Wednesday morning!

I'm really pleased with the quilting! Here's a picture of the entire quilt:

It's mostly quilted realistically using matching threads. I change thread colors a lot when I quilt and I used somewhere between 10 and 15 different colors on this quilt. The SID quilting was done with YLI invisible thread; the rest of the quilting was done using different colors of 40 wt Glide.

For the grass, I used a flame design kind of like Leah Day's Radio Static quilting design. For the fence, I used a wood grain design like what Angela Walters does:

The trees all have zig-zagging lines like branches in the tree part and vertical wavy lines in the trunks to simulate bark.

The sky is wavy horizontal lines with swirls to simulate wind.  I started out trying to do Angela Walters' Elongated Swirls in the sky, but I didn't like how my version of those swirls looked so I ended up using mostly regular swirls.I think I wasn't making the swirl part big enough. I'll have to work on those again in another project. The deer is just SID quilted with a little black bead added for his eye.

The stars were quilted with a continuous curve design.

The sun has echo quilting in the base semi-circle with squiggly rays coming out. I really like how the rays look!

On the hearts, I quilted the couple's names and the wedding date. To quilt the text, I first went to and downloaded several free cursive fonts. I played around with them and found one that I liked and printed the text on paper. I traced the text onto water-soluable stabilizer, pinned the stabilizer to the quilt and quilted over the lines three or four times. There was a lot of tying and burying threads for this part, but cursive was certainly a lot better than printing for this part! I like how this turned out, but after it was done I felt like it would look better if I had put the text a little bit higher up on the hearts than I did.

For the house, I quilted details into the door. The mail slot was a little wonky, but I still like it. I added a button for the doorknob. In the window is their dog, Willie. I quilted the background of the window with back-and-forth lines so that Willie would pop out of the window. I really liked the lines in the fabric on the roof so I quilted straight lines on either side of each line on the roof to make the lines pop. Then I filled the spaces in between with herringbone quilting. (I really like how the fabric pattern lines up perfectly in the house and the roof. I figured out an easy way to do this with paper piecing that I'll share sometime. I didn't think to take pictures while I was figuring it out for this project so the details will have to wait.) I added a "WELCOME" sign with the quilting to break up the big space on the front of the house. This was done the same way as the text on the hearts. The last part of the quilting I did was the sides of the house. I really couldn't decide how to quilt those areas. Since I wasn't getting any good inspiration, I ended up deciding to just quilt it using the pattern of the fabric as an inspiration. I like the texture that was created, but after looking at it for a while I noticed that it looks exactly like alligator skin so that's all I can see now when I look at it. Still cool, but a bit weird!

When I was done with the quilting, I had to soak the quilt to get rid of any remaining water-soluable stabilizer in the text quilting and to soften up the stabilizer used to applique the hearts. I'm really happy with how flat it blocked and love the crinkly look that the soaking gave the quilting. All of the pictures of the front of the quilt above were taken after the blocking so you can (hopefully) see the lovely texture it created.

I'm so glad to get this done by the deadline! I also finished my sweater so I'll have to take pictures and will post about that soon (or maybe after I get back from the wedding if I'm too busy beforehand).


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Beginning to Crochet

Hi all -

To add to the fun, I decided to also start crocheting. I've wanted to do this for a while and in my spare time have watched a few classes on Craftsy and CreativeBug, but I finally made myself sit down, watch a class and actually do the class projects. I decided to do the Startup Library: Crochet class with Salena Baca on Craftsy.

The first project is a headband made with bulky yarn:

There's a funky spot just below and to the left of the button in the top picture and the side with the initial chain isn't as stretchy as the other side, but it's still comfortable to wear and I think it turned out nice.

The second project was this cowl:

I think it turned out cute, but I was completely miserable while crocheting it. The yarn is a rough-texture acrylic which looks pretty cool, but I had a lot of trouble with it splitting when I tried to push the hook through and I had a tough time keeping a decent tension because the yarn would stick to itself. But I refused to give up and was able to finish it. I didn't want to put the yarn back into my stash, so I immediately knit up the remainder into a scarf:

Interestingly, I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. When knitting, I never had trouble with splitting and had no problem keeping my tension even. And it felt really comfortable in my hands. So maybe when I have more experience with crochet, I won't have this much trouble with yarns like this.

The third project was a quick hat crocheted with a bulky yarn:

This one was fun to crochet and I might make more of these.

The final project was a scarf:

(As you can see, Wesley has been insisting on being included in the modeling pictures. He just isn't as cooperative about sitting where I tell him to....) This was another fun one to crochet and I might make more of these. One problem I had when making this was that the chains I crocheted in the pattern were too tight for me to get the hook through on the next row. I got around that by crocheting those stitches in the big holes rather than in the chain stitches themselves, which I've seen done by others on some knitting/crochet shows on TV. The instructor was adamant that you have to get these into the chain stitches, but it worked well the other way for me on this pattern. I tried making my chain stitches really loose, but the slack seemed to be pulled up by the surrounding stitches so that just made the surrounding stitches a bit sloppy. The crochet hooks that I got are pretty rounded on the ends, so I might have better luck with more pointy hooks. I'll look around for some and will play around with other patterns to see how it all works out.

All of these projects will go into my Homeless Shelter bag to be donated next fall. I just watched another Craftsy class on crocheting hats so I'm going to try to find time to make some of those soon. But first I have to finish the quilted wallhanging I'm making for my step-niece for her wedding on June 2, and I have to finish knitting my first sweater which is almost done. I'll share both projects here when they are finished, which should be soon.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Home is Where the Heart Is -- Part 1

Hi all -

Sorry it's been so long since my last post! Most of my time has been spent knitting my first sweater, so I haven't had any accomplishments to share with you. The sweater is getting closer, but still has a way to go. But I've also been working on a wallhanging for my step-niece's wedding. Kelly and John are getting married on June 2. They are both wonderful people and are a really good match!

Several years ago I made a sampler wallhanging for a friend of mine when he finished building his new home. I thought this would be the perfect gift for Kelly and John, too. The main block in this quilt is a house block:

This is the perfect start because Kelly and John bought the home of their dreams a year or two ago. Their home is really important to them, as is their dog, Willie, who you can see peeking out of the window. I was going to give them a white picket fence but the white seemed to stark for this quilt, so I gave them a rustic one instead:

 They are avid hunters, so I had to give them a deer in their yard:

A couple of Friendship Star blocks because they really are best friends:

And the sun, to make their days bright:

And, of course, I had to include a heart to represent their love for each other:

I got all of the blocks put together and was able to get the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting finished last weekend:

I decided not to put on borders because I didn't want to make it any bigger and I thought a simple binding would be the perfect finish to contain this fairly wild quilt. I did the SID quilting using YLI invisible thread in both the top and the bobbin. I wound the bobbin very slowly so that the thread wouldn't stretch while it was winding, and I used a size 70 needle for the stitching. It stitched like butter! The back is a deer print:

This weekend I'll start on the interesting quilting. I know what I'm going to quilt in some areas, have ideas for others, and will wait for inspiration to hit for the rest.

I'll share the finished quilt soon since I have to have it finished by the wedding!

Before we go, here's a picture of one of our visitors last week:

I took this picture through the window on my front door, where the moose was munching away on a bush not more than 15 feet away from me. They are so majestic! I'm very lucky that they come to visit every once in a while!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ashley Cowl

Hi all -

To occupy my hands while watching March Madness, I decided to work on a simple cowl. I got the yarn and pattern from Craftsy using a 50% off coupon, so it was a thrifty project as well as a fast knit. The pattern is Ashley Cowl by Patty Nance and the yarn is a pretty self-striping wool. It was a really easy knit. In fact, the pattern just basically told you how many stitches to cast on, then gave you a simple 8-stitch pattern to repeat until you have 5 yards of yarn left, then bind off. I was a little frustrated because 5 yards was not enough yarn for the bind-off so I had to unbind-off and unknit a bunch of work to get the 10 yards of yarn that was actually needed for the bind-off. But it still turned out pretty, didn't take much time and was a perfect mindless knit to do while watching basketball.

Here is what the cowl looked like when I finished the bind off:

Not much to look at at this point! I'm usually lazy about cowls, hats, etc and don't bother with blocking, but I couldn't do that with this one. So I soaked it in lukewarm water with wool wash and then spread it out on the cheap Costco floor mats that I use for blocking:

This was my first chance to try out my new Knit Blockers and I have to say that I love them!

It was really easy to hold several inches of the cowl straight with the blockers. They have white ones at Craftsy, but I decided to spend a couple more dollars to get the pretty rainbow-colored ones that are only available at Jimmy Beans Wool. Aren't they pretty? And here's how pretty the cowl looks after blocking:

These colors are perfect for one of my nieces so I'll probably save this for one of her Christmas presents.

On the basketball side, my team (University of Kansas) made it to the Final 4. Wish them luck this weekend! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!


Thursday, March 22, 2018

More Homeless Shelter Knitting

Hi all -

I've been really busy working on my homeless shelter knitting. I'm feeling really good about the bag of stuff that I'm accumulating for them! I'll save everything up until fall and then drop it by so they don't have to worry about where to keep these things over the summer.

My first project was the Sailor's Knit Cowl from a pattern by Gretchen Tracy:

I think a cowl like this is a great idea for a guy. It's not feminine; it doesn't slip around like a scarf; and it can be pulled up to cover the face and neck when it's really cold. I imagine I'll be making more of these with different stitch patterns.

I also made a Field of Wildflowers hat from the pattern by Joji Locatelli:

As you've probably figured out by now, I really like to play with different stitches to create different textures!

Then I made a fun scarf:

This is the Madison Scarf pattern by Kris Basta. It's a companion pattern to the Gallatin Scarf pattern that I love so much.

Next I pulled out some more of that pink yarn that I want to use up and made a River Rush Slouch Hat from the pattern by Gretchen Tracy:

And a That Easy Guernsey Hat from a pattern by Christine Roy:

Those used up about another skein of the pink yarn, but I still have about 10 skeins of that yarn to go....

Next I moved on to a fun yarn and made a Sweet Memories Cowl from the pattern by Jacinta at embracingitall:

And I finished off that skein with a pair of Autumnal Mitts from a pattern by Jo Bangles:

It's fun to be able to play with all of these little projects! I'll keep collecting them and sharing them with you in bunches.

Now I'm getting ready to knit a swatch for my first sweater. This will be my first serious swatching where I also have to block the swatch before measuring. Wish me luck! It might be a while before you see anything from this project since I'll be waiting until there's enough progress to make it worthwhile to share.

Now back to March Madness and knitting! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!