It’s a month since I last posted. I don’t have a lot of textile work to show for that month, but there is some progress.
The aqua quilt is pin basted,and waiting to be machine quilted. It may be waiting a while.
I now have 4 blue and teal star blocks, but that project is on hold for now.
My new shawl design is also on hold, as is the cardigan I’ve been knitting for a while.
I have finished something – a pair of plain socks. I’m calling them my lumberjack socks, since they’re good boot socks and the greens remind me of pines. The yarn is Cleckheaton Country Tartan 8 ply.
I knit while I’m writing, and plain socks are best. I’m a slow writer, so I spend a lot of time staring at the screen, searching for the right words. The knitting is a kind of meditation; it helps to shift my brain into a creative mode, and keeps my hands busy so that I don’t go clicking all over the internet. With plain socks, I’m not reciting a pattern in my head and I can drop them the moment words come to me so I can type. I’ve got a lot of writing to do in the next few months; I have two more lots of the Cleckheaton yarn (blue and red), so I see some more socks in my future.
The only other creative project I’ll be working on for the next month or so is a quilt for my nephew’s 18th birthday. It may not get done in time but we’ll see. I had some black and white fabrics, and bought some more on Friday – although it’s pretty hard to find non-floral B&W (not grey) fabrics in our town; I went to the quilt shop, Lincraft, the other fabric shop, and raided Big W’s fat quarters, but there wasn’t a huge choice anywhere.
However, today I’ve selected the ones I’ll use; I’ve made 4 blocks so far, and cut up most of the fabric for the remaining 44 blocks. I will have to get a little extra of 2 of the fabrics but I have enough to go on with for now and will go to the local quilt store during the week. My plan is that when I need a break from writing, I’ll make blocks.
My nephew plans to be an architect – so what better structure to use than log cabin I haven’t decided how I’ll put the blocks together yet. I’ve been playing with the 4 completed ones to see the different effects – isn’t log cabin such a versatile and magical block – so many possibilities!
I’m a learn-as-I-do kind of person, and I’m enjoying learning about patchwork and quilting. I’d love to spend more time on it – on all my textile work! – but work and writing claim a lot of my time and brain power. However, on Sunday, after finishing uni marking on Friday and teaching an all-day writing workshop on Saturday, I declared Sunday a rare holiday from work, and spent all day playing with fabrics. As a result, my first quilt top is now finished:
(I’m also more relaxed… I should declare holidays more often!)
I did think about making it larger, and I made a few extra blocks… but then I decided to leave it as is, my logic being that I didn’t want to have to quilt a huge quilt for my first one. So, I put the extra 9 blocks together into a small piece, and quilted it for practice:
I’m glad I did this; it enabled me to get more used to machine quilting and handling a (somewhat) larger piece without being too concerned about making mistakes. I’ll have a go at free-motion quilting in the sashing, although I need to get the right foot for my machine to do that. Then I’ll bind this piece – although what I’ll do with it, I don’t know. I suppose it’s about the right size to put over a new-born in a bassinet; with all my nieces and nephews in their late teens and early twenties, maybe there’ll be a new-born sometime in the next decade!
I had work to do last night, but in the disjointed couple of hours in the late afternoon when there’s dog walking and dog feeding and dog playing and making dinner and such, I also made a patchwork star:
Maybe it will just be a practice block. Maybe there’ll be more. Maybe there might even be a quilt one day – I love blues and whites and stars…)
Maybe I’d better concentrate on finishing knitting a shawl (I worked out some problem rows last night!), and writing a book, and earning a living!!
My knitting mojo has returned, but it’s battling for time with the quilting mojo, and the writing and working demands – oh, what lovely things I could make if I didn’t have to work in addition to my writing!
The new shawl design is coming along, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel – and some order coming to the design chart! Here’s a little sneak preview:
The yarn I’m using is my favourite 50/50 silk/merino blend, hand-dyed by Spinning a Yarn. It’s a beautiful heavy lace-weight yarn, about 600 metres per 100grams, with a smooth feel and lovely sheen from the silk. Hopefully I’ll have the border finalised and this sample completed in the next week or two; then I’ll need to write up the pattern (charts and written instructions), work out additional sizes, have it tested knitted, have the pattern tech-edited, photograph the shawl/s… and then it will be ready for publication.
My quilting has taken a slight hiatus; I was away in Canberra & Sydney for 10 days, and now I’m back I have a stack of uni marking to finish this weekend, so no quilting for me until that’s done. My first quilt top is coming along, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it and finishing it:
I have to redo the sashing, piece border strips and sew them on, and am also going to piece a strip in the backing fabric to make it wide enough. Then there’s the actual quilting – I’m thinking about simple machine-sewn diagonals in the 9-patch blocks, and maybe handquilting the snowball blocks – but I could also machine-quilt them, which might give me a chance of actually finishing the project!!
I used as a pattern guide a project from the book ‘Two From One: Jelly Roll Quilts” by Pam and Nikki Lintott (Book depository link) (Goodreads link). I didn’t follow the pattern exactly – I used assorted fat quarters and scraps, not jellyrolls, and made it bigger – but I found the instructions, diagrams and photos clear and helpful for me as a beginner quilter. I do recommend the book; I’ve even bought another book by the Lintotts – Jelly Roll Sampler Quilts. (Book Depository link) (Goodreads link).
Of course, although I am only a beginner quilter, I have adopted very quickly the stashing habit! I have quite enough fat quarters and leftovers from this project to do another in similar shades; I have also stashed sufficient fabrics for at least three other quilts. They’re only in the dreaming/vague planning stages at present, but there is one I’d like to make in the next few months for a special person, and I ordered some fabrics for it from equilter.com when they were on special a couple of weeks ago. I have in mind a relatively simple quilt, highlighting the fabric rather than the patchwork, so it might be doable by the desired date in amongst all the other demands on my time.
I’m also just baking my second loaf of sourdough chocolate bread, inspired by my niece who loved it when she stayed in France, and who is now a sourdough baker herself. It’s very delicious!
Oh, and have I mentioned that I have to write my next book by the end of September? No? Needless to say, I shouldn’t be here…! There may not be a whole lot of blogging in the next few months, but I hope to squeeze in some textile creativity, to help inspire the creative writing imagination!
As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to knit some doilies to go with my new teacup sets. I know some people think doilies are dreadfully old-fashioned and useless, but I’m not one of those people! I love the simple beauty of lace knitting, and to me doilies are both functional and decorative, protecting a table surface as well as being lovely in themselves.
I’ve finished the one I started a couple of weeks back. At 43cm diameter, it’s more of a table centre than a doily, but I’m very happy with it:
The pattern is Majbritt I (Ravelry link) from the book Handknitted Lace, (Book Depository link) by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen, which I bought a couple of months ago and have been itching to knit something from since!
The designs are charted, which I love (hate reading rows upon rows of written directions, especially for lace!)
I had a bit of a panic, though, the other day. After a week of mad work finishing the edits on the latest book, I picked up the doily again for some relaxing knitting. I knitted round 41 and 42 fine (even round are plain rows). I started round 43 – and it Would Not Work. I didn’t have enough stitches, and the pattern didn’t ‘fit’. Something had to be wrong. I spent some time googling for errata, and checking Ravelry to see if anyone else had the same problem. Nothing. Sigh. There has to be a fault with the pattern, right? Sigh again. I’m an experienced knitter. I can look at the picture and work out what it’s supposed to be. Looking at my knitting, the error had to be in the previous round’s instructions. So I tinked back round 43, and round 42… oh, and the other round 42 – oops, how did THAT happen?… and for good measure, round 41 as well.
(Should I mention here that the mad rush to finish the edits had included an all-nighter? And that I am not as young as I used to be?)
Needless to say, there was no error in the pattern. It was perfectly correct. And it is a lovely pattern!
While I planned to post something today – a catch-up post – I didn’t actually plan to give the blog a whole new look. But you know how it goes… the theme I was using needed updating, and so I did the auto-update, and as a result it went all wrong. I could have stuffed around and fixed it (the problem was the widgets, I think), but I’d been planning to do a new theme, and I now have a great little program called Artisteer, so I played around on that and voila! – we have a new design!
So, what have I been up to since last I posted? Not a lot in the way of knitting and crafting, as I’ve been flat out teaching, marking, finishing a book and revising it. I have a number of wips languishing or receiving only occasional attention – two top-down cardigans, a lace shawl, some mittens for Gordon. But I did finish some red socks for my sister for Christmas:
I was in a secret santa swap with the local Ravelry crew, and I made an apron for my cheesecake-baker extraordinaire friend, Amanda:
They’re not made from yarn or fabric, but I’ve also made quite a lot of these in the past few weeks:
Sourdough crumpets – delicious toasted and spread with a little butter and honey! I stocked up my parents’ freezer while I was in Canberra for Christmas, and restocked ours yesterday.
And the last thing I should mention is that we have a new puppy – 9 month old Skye, who joined our household two months ago, after we had to euthanise our beautiful, beloved Princess Dog. Skye loves toys…
So, that’s my catch-up post for this last day of 2011. I hope you like the new blog design – I do! I’m hoping that 2012 is a great year for all my friends – may there be much making of beautiful, practical things, for all of us, and companionship in the making and sharing
I’ve finished my modified Helmi cardigan – and I love it!
(Okay, so I don’t love my over-weight shape, but the cardigan is comfy and warm and should still look fine when I’m skinnier in the tum and butt!)
I didn’t do buttonholes in the front band; for the closures, I’ve used wooden beads I’ve had in the cupboard for years, and crocheted loops. I’m planning to re-space the ‘buttons’ so that they’re closer together and it doesn’t fasten quite so low.
But all in all, I’m regarding this cardigan as a success, and I’m definitely a convert to top-down knitting. This is the first jumper/cardigan I’ve knitted for some years that I actually like as a finished product on me. And since I’ve received four cardigan-lots of wool form Bendigo Woollen Mills recently, and we’re only part-way through a cold winter, I’d better go and cast on another cardigan!
Jane, my headless dressmaker’s model, has a smaller butt than mine, so here she is modelling the finished Swallowtail Shawl:
I’m very happy with this shawl. The beads are small and very subtle, but they do catch the light a little, and I think the subtleness suits this fine, smooth yarn. The pattern was easy to knit, and once I really started working on the shawl, it didn’t take too long, despite the fine yarn and the beading.
I love the yarn! I do have two more skeins of it, but I can foresee wanting more. Unfortunately, The Knittery, where I bought it from, has closed down, so I am hoping to find another supplier of it. (Silk 50%, merino 50%, laceweight, gorgeous smooth texture – anyone got any ideas?)
Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A Clark. Interweave Knits, Fall 2006.
Yarn: The Knittery 2ply Silk Merino
Needles: 4mm circular
Modifications: Bless Ravelry! I had plenty of yardage in the skein, so I used kmcschmidt’s advice on increasing the size: 19 repeats of the Budding Lace 2 pattern, followed by Lily of the Valley (LOV) 1, then LOV 2, then rows 3-12 of LOV 1 again, then the peaked edging chart. This keeps the stitch count proportions correct for the various pattern transitions.
My other modification was to insert beads instead of working the nupps. I used size 8.0 pearlised seed beads, inserting them with a .65mm crochet hook, using FluffyKnitterDeb’s instructions.