Friday, October 30, 2009

Ready for winter

K was home from school again yesterday, so instead of starting on the Playing Again quilt I made my version of the Doily Scarf from Handmade Home. It's done in soft felted wool suiting backed with thrifted vintage cotton (anyone recognize it from another project?) and uses doilies that I purchased at the Reuzit Shop in Lancaster for this specific purpose. It was both great fun and really easy to make and I love its fresh, unusual design. Although this one is red and green I will probably not just wear it at Christmas, and I will likely make at least one more to give as a gift.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

For my sick chick

Poor K has been home sick from school for four days now; it's getting kind of old for her though she's been a real trooper about not complaining. Mainly she's sad because she's missing the fun activities her friends are getting to do -- not the least of which is the Halloween parade tomorrow, in which she was to have worn her K-Cat costume and marched with her friends (and her proud Mama.) I hope she'll still get to do that, but hope is getting slender.

So last night I made her this comfort object from Amanda Soule's Handmade Home. With an average temperature of around 100.2, she hardly needs a hot water bottle. But there's something so soothing about having something warm to cuddle, and this sloshy little thing wearing Daddy's old comfy flannel shirt from college, that I wore for years after Daddy "outgrew" it, brought a smile to her face this morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quilt for dawni

Remember the four-patch quilt from last March? When I promised that if you helped me give the quilt a name I would make one of you a miniature quilt as a gift? It's only taken me seven months and a weekend, but I've finished dawni's quilt and here it is, compliments of Miss K:

It is a Friendship Star Quilt, pretty much done as outlined in Kathleen Tracy's Prairie Children and Their Quilts: 14 Little Projects That Honor the Pioneer Spirit, which I think is as much fun to read as it is to quilt from. The fabrics were taken entirely from my stash, which is kind of embarrassing, given the number of them that appear and the ease with which I was able to choose them. I hope dawni enjoys it, whether she uses it as a wall hanging or maybe a doll quilt?

I may be making more quilts from this book soon, but my next project (taking time out here and there for holiday gift-making; I can't believe it's that time of year already) will DEFINITELY be the Playing Along Quilt from Anna Maria Horner's Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Fabric made with yards and yards of Amy Butler prints snatched up at the Berry Basket Quilt Show last weekend!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


In working on the knitted prayer shawl I mentioned in a previous post, I have learned that knitting ribbing is really easy (which is kind of what I'd thought) and that it's also really hard (if you don't understand the directions or pay attention to what you're doing.)

Directions: Cast on 80 sts. Sl. 1st st., k1p1 to end.

How difficult is that? Assuming you've really cast on 80 stitches (which you'll need for the cables later, and which I never even got to), you then need to know which way to slip the first stitch, knitwise or purlwise, and what those things mean anyway. (I sort of understand what they mean, so I slipped what I'm pretty sure was knitwise.) Then you need to know that you skip the first knit stitch and go right to the purl. I had to read on in the directions to work this out. It took me about ten tries. Finally, you need to remember to keep alternating between knit and purl stitches, which in theory is easy but is hard when you're just learning. Don't try to do it and chew gum at the same time.

Now, in Stitch and Bitch they basically say that to do ribbing, you knit the knits and purl the purls. When I tried approaching it this way (in a k2p2 pattern) I had no trouble at all getting it right. Looks like I've been knitting ribbing all my life. Huh.

I only cast on 32 stitches this time so we're looking at more of a scarf than a shawl, but I think I'm ready to move on to cables. Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Notes to self

If you're going to be drinking tea while knitting, do not store stashed yarn on the floor in between tea-table and knitting chair, unless you want to spend the wee hours of the morning rinsing out expensive wool and alpaca yarns and hanging them to dry when disaster ensues, and spending who knows how many days wondering if they will dry in usable condition. Not to mention running soggy bath towels through the wash, scrubbing your good white woolen carpet and kicking your sorry behind.

Also, no matter what the picture in the knitting book looks like, cheap acrylic yarn is still that. Go with the good stuff and spend more time knitting and less time frogging.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saying goodbye

I have had to set my mitten, sweater and other fun projects aside for a few days to work on a prayer shawl for a grieving friend. A week ago her husband came down with the sniffles as she was recovering from a bout with the flu, and early yesterday morning he passed away from complications due to H1N1. He was my age, and they were close to each other in a way that most couples wish they could be. Rodney is at rest and at peace, but my sadness deepens for his wife as the stitches and rows add up and I struggle with the new design.

I have been casual about flu shots in the past but will be scheduling vaccinations for myself and K (D's is already taken care of) this afternoon. Please make sure you get yours too, if you're able.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Berkshire Sweater, revisited

One of the reasons I was so quiet in September was because I could not stop knitting.  I found some irresistible alpaca/acrylic yarn (details on Ravelry) and started right in on a new version of the Weekend Knitting "Berkshire Sweater" I'd begun back in June/July when I first picked up knitting again in earnest.  I finished the sweater and it doesn't look bad for a first effort -- I'll share pictures and stories here at a later date.  Right now I'm concerned because after blocking it I discovered some mistakes, including a gargantuan hole in the middle of the thing, I suspect from two ends of yarn knotted together that I didn't notice in my eagerness to get the thing done.  Here's what the worst two look like:


Anyone with thoughts on what I might do to alleviate these problems  (And I did think of adding a big kangaroo pocket, but it didn't seem suitable so close to the underarm.  Sheesh.)  I do like the way the sweater fits, at least for a knock-around Saturday affair, and I loooove the softness of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Calling all knitters

So I've been discovering the fun and niftiness of Ravelry.  Come join me there!  My username is jamartin24 -- make friends with me if you're already on or request a signup link if you're not.  I'm slowly but surely getting my stash, needles, projects and ideas organized in my notebook and looking forward to meeting some new folks and expanding my horizons.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Busy day

Found lovely St.-Mary's-Blue patterned flannel in several designs, now have a handful of ideas to try and may actually be able to bring something to the Episcopal Church Women's annual meeting on Sunday where I'll be asking for folks to volunteer to help with the Baptism Blanket project -- I will be getting to work on that shortly.

Purchased lovely deep pink variegated pearl cotton to hand-quilt the yellow-green silk dupioni with a cerise cotton backing. It's all so soft and beautiful, I can't wait to start! I need to buy a hand-quilting frame before I can work on that, though.

Finished knitting the first mitten in a pair of beautiful blackberry wool tweed and was unimpressed with the result, but am so confident halfway through the second one that I'm fairly certain I'll be able to complete mitten #2 and rework mitten #1 into wearable (if not even giftable) pair by the end of the weekend, assuming other projects don't distract me.

Loving being immersed in art and craft -- this is living my dream!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knittin' Mittens

Project of the day: Super Mittens, Weekend Knitting

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Cascade 128 Tweed, Blackberry, 90% Peruvian highland wool, 10% Donegal (tweed)

Challenge: Learning to knit with double-pointed needles

Thoughts: Pointy sticks everywhere! Like eating a flaming shish kebab!

Dreading: Thumb gusset

On deck: Washed silk quilt; Look-back leggings; Cozy armchair socks

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baptism blanket update

I had just about sold myself on the traditional crocheted-baby-afghan for the baptism blanket design, with a St.-Mary's-Blue satin ribbon woven in as an accent somewhere, which would have been lovely; but two minutes ago when I had to rip half the thing out for the third time I also ripped two fistfuls of hair from my head and swore I would not crochet a third blanket. I'm going to be looking for easy knitting patterns (because I need to use this lovely white wool-acrylic-nylon yarn on something and it may turn out that a knitted blanket is just the thing) and then look at cotton or wool flannel and embroidery, or revisit the white-on-white quilt idea.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art-on-the-go, take two

I needed a gift for K's friend who just turned six. He was having a "pirate party" and I so wanted to make him a pirate-themed "art-to-go-bag," but there just wasn't fabric to be had that wasn't sooo 5-years-old. So I settled on some "boyish" red-black-and-blue dots and stripes and made him this bag with matching felt pencil roll and art journal, and I found him a Dover Fun With Pirates stencil book to toss in with the mix.

I thought he'd probably like it but according to his mom he loved it! He takes it apart and shows it to everyone and explains what it's for, and even brought it to school for Show and Tell on Friday! I could not be more tickled! I hope to make one for the other kids in his class as they have their birthdays ... here's hoping!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baptism blankets: fishing for ideas

I'm looking for a little help from the audience here; I really hope you'll all chime in with your comments and/or emails. Here's the story:

I've been asked by the folks at my church to design a "baptism blanket," which would be a special blanket given by our church to the parents of infants and young children who are baptized in the parish. (It would be part of an organization they're trying to resurrect called the Guild of the Christ Child, which in our parish would involve sponsors following the families through the infants' first three years and then helping them enroll in Church School.) The blanket should be about the size of a receiving blanket and labeled with the name of the child and the date of the baptism, but other than that I've been given no guidelines.

Here are some ideas I've had, and the problems I've encountered:

  • I have a pattern for an "eyelet bound carriage blanket," but it calls for "blanket fabric" which is impossible to buy by the yard at any local store, and although the book suggests cutting down an actual blanket, it is also impossible to buy a decent blanket for a reasonable amount of money. I have found some white wool flannel online that looks interesting, and if it felts well it will be washable (which is an unwritten requirement), but several people have told me that wool is out because they are allergic to it, because it is itchy, or because it is not washable. I kind of think I'd like to see the fabric before I throw out this option because it is the most "traditional" baby blanket I can think of.
  • I could make a simple two-layer cotton flannel receiving blanket with a "St. Mary's Blue" binding. (Another suggestion I've heard is that the blanket should include our "signature" royal blue in some aspect.) I would think some embroidery would be appropriate on the front layer to make the blanket look "special" enough. I don't have much experience with embroidery but I feel confident that I can learn to do it; or there will be ladies in the parish who have sewing machines that can do embroidery -- or possibly we could work something out with an applique. I know a woman on the altar guild who will probably have a book on church sewing and embroidery that I can raid for ideas.
  • I could make a patchwork quilt with all white-on-white prints and a white (or blue, I guess, but I kind of think that would look weird) binding. That has the advantage of being soft and washable.
  • I could use a crochet pattern that I used in making one of K's baby blankets, that would make a very nice baptism blanket, and just sew a patch to the back for the label -- we'd probably get those printed anyway. Depending on the type of yarn used, both soft and washable. (When I mentioned this option to my friends, they didn't think it would be washable, but I have tossed K's blankets in the wash over and over.)
Thoughts on these ideas? Other ideas? My mind is wide open at this point. I'm going to compile every possible option and make some test blankets, and then see where I am. I'll be sure to keep you posted.