Saturday, March 31, 2012

On my needles: Vagabonde

Last week I started the Vagabonde Wrap Cardigan because I needed something to do with my two skeins of Plymouth Mushishi, a wool-silk blend worsted that is extremely squishy and luxurious.  I knit my original swatch for Mushishi on needles that were way too large for the suggested gauge, but after blocking I fell in love with the loose, drapey fabric.  Ravelry to the rescue!  I found this pattern, which calls for a nicely variegated worsted weight mohair, and cast on.

Up until now the construction has been a very straightforward top-down raglan.  I added darts at the bust (learning, in the process, how do do that on a cardigan (found this article from Knitty extremely helpful) but otherwise made no changes.  Now I have reached the "do-I-really-have-to-finish-this" point (it usually sets in shortly after I separate the sleeves), and am grateful for the design elements on the back of the sweater that might hold my interest enough to carry me through to the coveted Finished Object.

I think that the reason I have so many UFO's at the moment has a lot to do with my confidence level at the pattern-choosing stage of the process.  When I look at the array of projects I've embarked on I see very little variation in terms of texture, construction, shaping, color -- you name it -- and I believe it's out of fear that I have limited myself.  It's gratifying, then, to make choices that are a bit more interesting and daring, and even begin to alter written instructions.  Knitting becomes a cerebral experience as well as a meditative one, and life is that much more satisfying.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The results of an hour's worth of "spinning" with combed top:

Clearly, I need to practice this daily.  I was just starting to get the hang of the "inchworm" technique when I ran out of time for this morning.  Glad I have the drum carder so all that wool won't go to waste!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On the studio floor

Preparing to knit Owls with Cascade 128 Superwash.  It's all about the process!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New hues

I've been gathering fabric for a new experiment in modern quilting, and they don't at all feel like "me," but I think I like them -- or most of them.  There's still some weeding out to do.

I deliberately went for mostly muted tones, and included some solids, just to see if working with them makes me feel any more like a Modern Quilter.  There are some Lotta Jansdorfer prints in there that I love; those have a nice drape and are the right weight for a spring blouse, which I do believe I will try to make.

Excuse me; I must go cut into these now!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

K's Holyoke Sweater complete

K loves her new Holyoke Sweater.  In her words, "It's warm, warm, warm!"

It's great for lounging...

And for showing off!

Things I learned while working on this sweater:
  1. Stranded two-color work.
  2. The ins and outs of short rows.
  3. Mattress stitch for seaming
  4. Bottom-up raglan construction.
Not bad for a week's work!

OT: Missing Kitty

Leslie went missing last night around 6:30 pm.  We are very worried about him.  Any advice regarding how we might locate him would be most appreciated.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Off my needles: Liesl, etc.

I am so happy with my new handknit!

It looks orange in the photo, but really it's a beautiful hand-dyed red. (I did get a better picture of the color but it didn't show the lace pattern as well.)  The yarn is a light worsted superwash wool, and the bow is torn from a piece of silk.  The design is by Ysolda Teague, about whom I am officially crazy.  I finished it in just about 6 weeks, with time off in the middle for this project:

The Holyoke Sweater (design by Wenlan Chia) is my first foray into colorwork.  It was amazingly easy to do the two-stranded pattern, and so satisfying!  I did not add bust darts to this sweater so it looks ridiculous on me, but manages to fit K with room to grow.  Holyoke is currently blocking, and when it's dry I need to sew the sleeve seams.  Its Twinkle Soft Chunky yarn, which I ordered online, is my current favorite -- to the point where I drove an hour and a half to Wooly Monmouth in Red Bank, NJ, so I could choose some in person.

 Hence, just off the needles is the left sleeve of Wenlan Chia's Matinee Coat from Twinkle's Town & Country Knits.  Also, check out the new hardwood floor in my studio!

Last, but not least, I am swatching for a couple of sweaters I hope to design for myself, with guidance from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears, Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English, and Barbara G. Walker's Knitting from the Top. Those two are going to require some serious quiet time before I can even cast on, but I'm really excited about them.

And on my needles?  Nothing!  Because I can't decide what to do next!

What are you working on?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thoughts on improvisational piecing

I am loving the improvisational piecing in this quilt, which is "Nate's Quilt" from Malka Dubrawski's Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration.

Things I am learning:
  1. The look might be random, but there's a ton of planning that goes into that look.
  2. The build might be wonky, but there's a lot of skill that goes into building the wonkiness.  (I need to work on this part.)
  3. There are many degrees of randomness and wonkiness, between quilters and within quilts.  (Take a look at Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejniek's Block Party--The Modern Quilting Bee: The Journey of 12 Women, 1 Blog, & 12 Improvisational Projects for examples.)
Questions I'm considering:
  1. Can there be too much wonk?  (I think the answer is, sometimes, but it can be balanced with similar wonk elsewhere in the same quilt.  I had help with this question from a more experienced quilter.)
  2. Where can I find fabric that is not quilting cotton to quilt and sew with?  Linen, silk, good corduroy, wool suiting?  (I am not impressed with what I find at the chain stores.)  There is one store in our town that carries some of these things, but are there other sources?  I am not against ordering online, but I prefer to see and touch what I am buying.
  3. Where can I find other quilters who are interested in modern quilting?  One answer would be to take a class, but I not had good experiences in knitting classes I have taken and worry that a quilting class would be similar.  I would rather spend my money on good fabric and books.