Sunday, June 23, 2019

Inclusivity Backing Started

Hi all -

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! Yep, believe it or not, summer is here. It's hard to tell at my house since we had a pretty good snow this morning, although it all melted as soon as it hit the ground. But I think we have some warmer weather in our future!

Since my last post, I visited my family in Kansas City again. My sister wanted to go to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival so I decided to drive out. My nephew's girlfriend joined us and we had a wonderful day together looking at the quilts and leaving a lot of money with the vendors! I decided to enjoy the quilt show as a family day so the only pictures I took were of a friend's quilts so she could see them hanging in the show, so I don't have anything to share here. But, trust me, it was a very nice show!

I haven't had much time for quilting since I was away from home, but I was able to get started on the backing for my niece's graduation quilt. I got the top half of it pieced and should be able to finish it up by next week. Here is what I have so far:

Sorry for the bad picture, but the wind did not want to cooperate with me (although, of course, it's pretty calm now.....). I have the rainbow band for the bottom half of the quilt pieced, so now I just need to cut and piece the backing pieces and then put everything together.

While I was in KC, my niece's boyfriend proposed to her, so now she is officially engaged. I had already seen a quilt kit on Bluprint that I really liked and was on sale, so I had already purchased it. Here is the quilt I'm going to make for them:

I might make the border a little wider since it looks a little small in the picture, but everything else will be the same. I think this will be a stunning quilt and it will be easy to piece (it's just a couple of sizes of pineapple blocks), but it still has the flavor of a double wedding ring quilt with the circle illusions the blocks make. I'm really looking forward to starting on the piecing! I haven't heard anything about a date yet, but you traditionally don't have to have the wedding quilt done until the first anniversary so I should have plenty of time (depending on how many other weddings decide to pop up!). My step-nephew also announced his engagement to his girlfriend just before my trip, but I don't really know him well so am not sure if I will make anything for them.

I've also been doing some knitting. Before I left for KC, I finally got out my step-niece's baby sweater and finished it up. I really like how it turned out!

I wrapped it up and gave it to my sister to give to them whenever it's convenient for her. The baby is due in early July so the timing was perfect! The pattern is Baby Novus by Laura Nelkin, if anyone is interested in making one.

I had so much fun with my cardigan and love it so much, that I also started another one. This one is Jane Morris by Carol Sunday. I chose this one because I really like it and because I bought the pre-made knitCompanion set-up for this pattern. (knitCompanion is the software that I use for following the pattern while I knit.) I'm hoping to learn a lot of the knitCompanion features that I haven't figured out yet by using a set-up created by the experts. I must say, it's really nice to have someone else do that part for me! I did a lot of knitting on this sweater while I was in KC so was able to get the front finished:

This sweater is being knit with some hand-dyed yarn.  You can get a lot of inconsistency in the yarn color with hand-dyed yarn that can cause it to be obvious when you start a new skein in your knitting. This is what happened with the Maple Leaf shawl I made for a friend last year using this same brand of yarn. As you can see, the tips of the leaf are lighter than the bases:

It's subtle, but it's noticeable and it wasn't noticeable while I was doing the knitting. So, for the sweater, which used two skeins for the front, I added the second skein early and alternated the skeins until the first skein ran out. You can see some striping on the front of the sweater that comes from doing this, but it's only noticeable if you are actually looking for it. I'm hoping to keep this sweater as a background project since I have a bunch of other stuff to make, but I'm really enjoying it and can't wait to wear it so you might be seeing it more often than I've planned!

While I was gone, the third installment for my Jimmy Beans Wool knitting club arrived:

It's always so much fun to get these in the mail! This time they gave us a bunch of extras, including a key chain with some sheep on it. I don't have a use for a keychain, but I'm planning on taking the sheep off of it and using them for zipper pulls on project bags. I think they'll make great zipper pulls! This was the final installment for the Lakeside Summer Shawl so I went ahead and finished that project.

And I made Lance model it, just for fun:

Doesn't he look happy???

Finally, I decided to start on the Paris Mittens by Andrea Arbour that I'm making for my sister for Christmas. I just started these this morning, so I haven't gotten very far:

But I'm enjoying using the project bag I made a while back for this project:

These are colorwork mittens and I haven't done much colorwork so I'll be learning a lot as I go along. The biggest thing I'll have to pay attention to for these is the length of the yarn strands on the inside of the mittens where I'm carrying the unused color behind the knitting. If these "floats" are too short, the mittens won't stretch properly, but if they're too long then the stitches will become messy. Wish me luck!


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Arda Sweater

Hi all -

While I had expected to be showing you the backing for Lindsey's graduation quilt in this post, that didn't happen. Instead, my crafting took an unexpected detour and I actually knit an entire sweater since my last post. Yep, an entire sweater from start to finish. I had only planned on making a start on the sweater, but I loved the feel of the yarn so much that I just had to get it finished so I could wear it! The sweater I knit was the Arda sweater by Amy Christoffers:

I used the suggested yarn, Berroco Vibe, which is a really soft mix of organic cotton, organic wool and nylon.

This sweater was a wonderful learning experience for my. It's only my second sweater and the first was a side-to-side construction, the instructions were very detailed and I knit it as part of a knit-along where there was a lot of support online. This sweater was knit from the bottom to the top, had brief instructions and I did it all on my own except for one clarification of the instructions that I got from the designer. (I also found a mistake in the pattern that I need to send to the designer.)

As I mentioned, you start the sweater at the bottom and knit up:

Once you get to the armpits, you put the main sweater aside and knit the arms up to that point. I took this opportunity to try a new-to-me technique of magic loop two-at-a-time knitting. In this method, you know both of the sleeves at the same time on long circular needles. It's a bit finicky to get started because things can flip around:

But once you get further up the arms, it gets pretty easy:

The biggest thing you have to watch is to make sure that you are knitting with the correct ball of yarn on each arm and to keep the two balls from getting too tangled. Then you put the pieces together and continue knitting up to the neck:

The final step is to pick up stitches along the front edge and knit the button band. I haven't picked up stitches much and it always stresses me out trying to get the right number of stitches evenly spaced. But this time I figure out a trick to help with that. The pattern gives the number of stitches to pick up in different areas around the front and neck. First, I put a locking stitch marker at the ends of each section where I would be picking up stitches. The, as I worked each section, I used more locking stitch markers to evenly divide the sections into subsections that would need around 10 stitches each. I could then evenly space those 10 or so stitches in each subsection and know that the stitches all around the edge would be evenly spaced. Sorry I didn't get any pictures, but it worked like a charm and I know I'll be using that trick whenever I need to pick up a bunch of stitches!

I really love how this sweater turned out and I can see myself making another one. If I do that, I might make the next smaller size. I couldn't decide which size to make. The model was wearing the size with 4" of ease. For my measurements, I had to choose between 2" of ease and 6" of ease. Being conservative, I went for the 6" of ease and it fits fine and I'll be able to wear it over anything. But I think the size with 2" of ease would be nice, too, so that's what I would try next. time.

The only other knitting I did this time was my May installment of the Jimmy Beans Wool shawl club. This is the club that lasts the entire year. This month's installment was "only" 8 rows, but we're up to more than 400 stitches in each row so it did take the entire evening! Here is what we got for this month's installment:

And the project so far:

Finally, I didn't completely neglect Lindsey's graduation quilt. I did design what I want to make for the back:

Now I just have to do the piecing.....


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Another Project Bag and Some Knitting

Hi all -

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring! Here in the mountains of Colorado, we've had some really nice weather alternating with more snow. We're expecting another 5-7 inches on Monday night. I like the snow because it gives us more insurance against the summer fires, but I sure am ready to be done with it!

I haven't done much sewing in the last couple of weeks, but I did sew another project bag. I had picked up some yarn for a cardigan and I didn't have a project bag that was big enough, so I decided to make a new one. And I had some bee fabric that I love and I've been wanting to make something out of for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity! The big Finch Bucket bag, that I've made a couple of times, was just a little bit too small for all of this yarn, so I increased the size a couple of inches in each direction. The resulting bag was just perfect for this project!

While I was making this, it dawned on me that I should probably share a trick I figured out a while ago. One of the things that always bothered me when making bags was that I couldn't get a good. straight press on the bottom of the piece of fabric used to make the slot pockets on the inside of the bag. For this bag, the slot pockets extend completely across the lining, with their sides enclosed in the side seams of the binding. For these pockets, you sew a tube of fabric that you turn right-side-out and then press flat:

The difficult part is getting the side with the seam, which ends up being the bottom of the pocket, to be nice and straight. What I've found to be the best tool to get a nice, straight edge on the bottom of the pocket is a thin, metal ruler:

I slide the ruler into the pocket and push it to the seam end, making sure that the ruler is on the same side of the seam allowance all the way along the seam. I push it as tightly as possible into the seam:

and then iron right over the ruler:

If the pocket is longer than the ruler (like it was in this case), I flip everything over and do the same thing on the other side. I flip it over just because it's easier for me with the iron in my right hand. This gives me a perfectly straight bottom to the pocket:

And here's what the pocket looks like when it's sewn to the lining piece:


I also did some more embroidery on my wool applique bag. This time I did most of the embroidery on one of the flowers:

This is a long-term project so I'll just keep plugging away at it a little at a time.

The rest of my projects this time were knitting. We got our May Lola's Choice kit, Loquita, last week:

This was a smaller project -- a beaded necklace -- so I was able to finish it fairly quickly. Here it was blocking last night:

And then finished, with the clasp attached:

I really love knitting with beads and this was a really fun, quick project!

I also finished the snood that I was making for my sister for Christmas. Last time, I'd been worried about the yarn, thinking that I was supposed to hold it double and I hadn't done that. Well, I took some time and looked at the pattern some more. It turned out that the pattern had two different yarn suggestions in different weights. The lighter weight would be held double, but the worsted weight, which is what I was using, wasn't. So it turned out that I was doing the right thing and, since I was loving the feel of the snood, I decided to finish it with that yarn. It turned out so gooshy soft!

I think she's going to love it!

Finally, I also got my May installment of the Jimmy Beans knit club project, the Lakeside Summer Shawl by Jenny V. Nelson:

They send little prizes with each installment, and this month I got that cute little hedgehog zipper bag. That will be nice for holding the little knitting accessories -- stitch markers, tape measure, tapestry needles (for weaving in ends) -- in my project bags. There was a lot of knitting for this month's installment, but I was able to finish it up:

The knit club has 3-month projects, so the June installment will finish this one up. I really like how delicate the elongated stitches look in this project!

Well, that's it for this post. I hope everyone is doing well!


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Finished Piecing Inclusivity

Hi all -

Sorry for the delay in this post, but I had to go out of town unexpectedly and so lost a couple of weeks of creative time. But I'm back and I believe I made up for lost time!

First, I'll just get the little things out of the way. On the embroidery front, I did more work on my Sue Spargo Birds on Parade bag. Previously, I had had the outside of the bag finished according to the pattern, but I didn't like how blank the back of the bag was going to be. Wool felt is expensive and I really didn't want to waste that space! So I ordered some more wool felt to use for appliques and, right before going out of town, I pulled out my Accuquilt cutter and some flower and leaf dies and I cut out some appliques for the back. I didn't put a lot of thought into the color of each piece since there was so much going on that day, but I was happy to have pulled something together that I could work on if I had some time when I was out of town. I got some of the appliques sewn on while I was out of town, then was able to applique the rest when I got back:

I think these will go well with the other side of the bag:

And I'll be able to nudge the colors a bit with the threads used for the embroidery. I was also able to start on the embroidery:

I'm really enjoying this and will definitely make more progress before my next post!

I've also done some knitting. I received my April installment of the Jimmy Beans Wool Shawl Club project:

There were "only" 10 rows to be knit in this installment, so I decided to knock those out immediately:

Of course, we're now up to over 350 stitches in each row so it did take several hours to complete.....

Since it's been a while since my last post, I also received my first installment of the Jimmy Beans Wool Knit Club project for April through June. This quarter's project is the Lakeside Summer Shawl by Jenny V. Nelson (this pattern isn't available on Ravelry yet so I can't supply a link):

I'm trying to keep up with these clubs so I decided to work on that immediately, too:

I think this is going to be a really pretty, lightweight shawl. I love how the elongated stitches look!

Even though I finished the knitting on my Ironish scarf by Laura Nelkin, I finally got the scarf blocked and trimmed the ends and got some finished pictures:

(I always have to slip in a picture of Lance where I can!)

The last knitting project I started is the Sutton Mock Cable Hoodie by Iris Schreier. This will be a Christmas gift for my sister. She requested this last year and I went through the patterns on Ravelry with her and had her pick one out. Then I ordered some yarn after I got back home. Here's the start of the snood:

I really love the look and feel of this yarn, but after I got to this point, I looked at the pattern and realized that I was supposed to be holding the yarn double for this project. This is a single ply yarn and the pattern has a bunch of k3tog stitches. These stitches were a bit tricky with a single strand of this yarn; I don't think I want to try it with a double strand so I will probably pull this out and pick a different, plied yarn for this project. I could try to finish up with this yarn and maybe it would be the right size, but I don't want to risk wasting that time. I was going to knit a gauge swatch, but it said to knit the swatch "in pattern" and I didn't know how to do that with a pattern that started with just 6 stitches and increased a couple of stitches every 2 rows. So this project is on hold for now.

Finally, I finished the piecing on my Inclusivity quilt that I'm making for my niece for her college graduation in December. In case you don't remember, this quilt is based on the Hexactly pattern by Hunter's Design Studio:

Last time, I had cut out all of the pieces for the hexagon strips and had started doing the piecing. This time I continued with the piecing. To piece this, you add triangles to the edges of the hexagons to make diamonds, and then piece the diamonds together. The part that I was worried about was getting the points on the hexagons to line up nicely. For the first of these seams, I used the method where you baste the seam across where the points meet, then, when that is perfect, you sew the entire seam with your usual stitch length. This worked nicely but took a lot of time and added a little bulk to the seam with the extra stitching that I didn't like. So, I looked at that finished seam and determined that if I matched up the seam allowances from the hexagons, that gave me the perfect position for the points to match:

Can you see how the seam allowances match up in this picture (I always press my seams open unless there's a reason not to)? With the seam allowances matched up, I would pin on both sides of the match point to hold that in place. Then, I pinned both ends of the seam to make sure that the ends overlapped 1/4". Finally, I found that adding additional pins in the middle helped things ease together better:

Using this pinning and matching, I was able to sew together the hexagons pretty quickly while still getting pretty good points:

They're not perfect, but they're definitely good enough for me! Here you can see how the hexagons go together:

One thing I would do differently if I made this quilt again would be to use larger setting triangles. The patter has you use the exact size of triangles that you need, but if you don't get them in there perfectly then the strip can be a little narrow in some places. I would rather cut them oversized and then trim the hexagon strips to the right size when finished.

When I finished the hexagon strips, I had to think about how I was going to put them together. The pattern uses 7 hexagon strips for a twin-sized quilt and has a queen-sized version that uses 11 of the strips. But I wanted to make a queen-sized quilt with just 7 hexagon strips so I could represent the rainbow. I could do something with the strips lining up going in the same direction:

Or, like the pattern, I could have the long strips going down and the short strips going up:

I liked this second version better, so now I had to add background to each strip to make them the same length and decide how far apart I would put the strips. I measured my queen-sized mattress and found it is 60" across. The hexagon strips are 7.5" wide finished, so adding 1.25" finished backing strips would make the hexagon strips fit exactly on the top of the mattress. So I went with that.

Because the piecing of the triangle on the hexagon strips wasn't perfect, the strips were a little narrow in some places. to try to clean some of that up, I marked a line on the hexagon strip where I should line up the background strip to make up for those gaps:

(Of course, I started by marking the wrong side of the red hexagon strip, but, luckily, I realized that before I did any stitching and then marked the correct side.) I lined the background strip up with this line and pinned in place:

Then I sewed the seam, using the shorter seam allowance on the hexagon strip:

This worked really well for these strips, but I had to just fudge the rest of the seams since I couldn't come up with a way to mark the seams after this point. But I think it turned out pretty well!  Here's the inside portion finished:

Then I just had to decide how wide I would want the top and bottom borders and and add them to the quilt. I don't have a good way to photograph the whole queen-sized top, so here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea of how it turned out:

I really love how it turned out! Now I have to think about how I want to piece the backing. I'll probably play around with different rainbows and will probably have to order some more of the background fabric to use on the back. I've got plenty of time to work on that!

One last thing I've just started thinking about is wedding quilts. I have a niece and a nephew who are both in serious relationships and, although there aren't any formal engagements yet, we have a feeling that it won't be long for either. One couple has already bought the engagement ring although the engagement isn't formal yet. So, I'm starting to think about wedding quilts so I don't get too stressed out when the announcements are made. I've decided on a pattern for the first quilt: I want to make the Wedding Bands quilt from Judy Martin's Stellar Quilts book. (If you scroll down a little bit, you'll see a picture of the twin-sized version of her Wedding Bands quilt.) I've wanted to make this quilt for myself for a long time, so this is the perfect opportunity to try the pattern. I've decided to use teals for the background and ordered the fabric already:

I'm not really pleased with the lightest fabric so will continue to look for a replacement for that one, but I love the rest of them. I also need to decide on the colors to use for the contrasting fabrics in the stars. Maybe golds? Or browns? I'll keep thinking about that....

I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring! We've been enjoying some nice spring weather up here in the mountains but, as usual in the spring, we are expecting some more snow next week. I hope this is our last snow since I've scheduled an appointment to swap out my snow tires the following week!