Friday, April 20, 2007

Makin' Miters

Miters Round 1

This is what I was swatching for.

I can't keep up with the breakneck speed at January One, but I am cranking them out in my own way.

It's to be a baby blanket, just four squares of four mitres each, plus a nice deep border.

Per Kay, I'm using the no-sew method.

Per Alice, I've made a checklist. And a diagram.

Le Checklist

Per AmberCake, I am using all navy (faux indigo), all the time as one color, and at least three yarns for the bright stripes in every square.

My main yarns are:
-Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim Aran: Navy blue main color (discontinued)
-Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton: Vareigated thick-and-thin cotton - this stuff is really really awesome

My accent colors are brought in with:
-Reynold's Saucy: nice mercerized cotton solids - these are most of the brightest colors
-Rowan Handknitting Cotton
-Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton
-Manos del Uruguay Cotton
-Cascade Luna

I'm actually a little surprised that I'm counting only seven yarns there. If you count all the colors of all the yarns, it's from at least 15, I think. Just because I Am That Way About The Yarn Colors. And Textures.

Knitting Revelation: Combination Knitting

Thanks for the inspiration to swatch and get technical, Nona.
Thanks to Annie Modesitt and Grumperina for helping me learn something new.

See how awful my stitches are in this close-up?

Le Swatch

No? How about if I outline the size of the stitches for you:

Le Swatch

Or like this:

Le Swatch

Yeah. See how I went from having one row of squished, tiny, tight stitches, followed by a group of big, gloppy, loose stitches? I've always known that my purling was looser than my knitting, and for a long time I've known that it's not just me, it's an inherent thing because of the way the stitches are formed and the relationship of the wrap around the needle and previous/next stitch.

I had looked at Combination Knitting before, and had some false impressions of what it was all about, looked at it a little cross-eyed for one hot minute, and then skipped it. I ran into it again recently, somewhere in my web meanderings, and this is what I learned:

Combination Knitting is all about wrapping the purl stitches differently to make up for the natural differences in tension between a "normal" knit stitch and a "normal" purl stitch.

The mechanics are basically that you wrap the purl stitch the "other" way from "normal" (clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, when viewed from the tip of the needle). When you turn your piece to the knitting side, the legs of the stitch are accordingly "backwards" - the leg that should be on the right side of the stitch is now the back leg, not the front leg - so you knit into the backs of the stitches so that they're not twisted.

That's just my conceptual summary. You should seriously check out Annie's info here, and Grumperina's info here and Nona's well-documented exercise here.

Friday Ketchup

I've been busier than appearances on this blog would readily indicate. Maybe it's indicated by lack of appearance on the blog? There's even MORE than is shown below, but here's a little Friday Ketch-up.

Went to the Empire Quilt Guild Show. Here's my favorite, total size approx 14"x20".

House & Swirl

Got some yarn. And some more yarn. Lots of yarn. Mostly cotton. Lots of summer babies to knit for this year.

Summer Cotton



You know what gets me about the swatching? Using the yarn. I totally don't mind doing some pre-knitting, I knit because I like doing it. Why would I be mad about doing more knitting? And if I'm all excited about a project, it's really easy for me to be excited about pre-project experimenting. In fact, I think I often conceive of experiments first and it's only the utilitarian in me that makes me want to create a "finished object" sort of project to use the experiment. But then, the utilitarian in me RAILS against using the "project" yarn, the precious, yummy, paid-good-money-for-it, but-i-LIKE-it-so-much yarn for a swatch. Like there will never be enough of it. Like if I use it now I won't have it later. I know. There's a lot of great yarn in the world, I will always find a new other yarn I like and if I won't use it now so that I can use it later, when will it be time to use it? Why have it if I can't use it? I know.

Anyway, I dodged that particular pathology this time 'round by not cutting any of it. That's right. Those swatches are connected to each other and also connected to SIX separate balls of yarn that I schlepped around while I worked on them. The very same six balls of yarn in the yarn photo above - see how the yarn is all trailing off-camera? Yeah. I actually intended to wash the swatches (while still connected to the balls) to see how everything would behave, but then I was really too excited to get started and figured I had enough worked out to just get going.

In even MORE yarn news, there are co-worker babies again this summer. This year, the plan is to knit several small individual items, rather than repeat the blankets from last summer. They were lovely but required so much seaming (98 total squares!), it's almost all I can remember about them. We picked colors together so everything will coordinate, and we can share half-balls for accent colors, etc. We started with the baby-item patterns from Mason-Dixon Knitting: the baby kimono, burp cloth, and bib.

This is the beginning of burp cloth #2:


Tune in this weekend for a Knitting Revelation - from the swatches, of course - and the beginnings of what will be a truly fantastic baby blanket. With a lot fewer than 98 squares to sew together.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Rebirth: UFO to WIP

Many moons ago, I started a quilt. I pieced the top. I pieced the back. I layered it with batting. It was a small quilt, and I like "sandwiched" edges, so I sewed the three layers together inside out, pillowcase style, and there it was. Everything but the quilting. And there it sat. I had figured I would machine quilt it, as I had tossed it together willy-nilly on the machine on the fly. But I was having troubles with my machine, and with my willy-nilly toss it together, I had a feeling I would just end up having so many horrid quilting lines with bunching fabric and bunching bobbin thread, I would end it ripping the thing to shreds. No deadline, no particular recipient in mind, just making it to make it, so... it was tucked away. For pondering. An Unfinished Object: UFO.

I didn't forget it, as it's the first quilt I've made that's gotten even that far (I also have a partial top that will probably resurface later this year). It was so fun to get it that far. I had Hit the Wall with how to proceed. I couldn't figure out what sort of quilting lines I would want on it, how I could quilt it, knew I couldn't use my machine on it, don't like tied quilts (I actually sometimes like ones others have made, I not well enough to make one myself).

Last fall I took a hand-quilting class, just because. I knew I wanted to be doing quilting and I thought I might as well.

Last week, I pulled this baby off of the shelf and started to look at it for how it could be quilted. I knew I wanted to do quilt lines that accentuated the piecing. I'd been floating ideas around in my head, but I hadn't even looked at the silly thing in months!

Last weekend, I dropped into my local quilting store, bought four colors of quilting thread because I couldn't decide and I might just use them all.

And on Easter Sunday, I threaded my needle and started in on it. It will be quilted as pieced: willy-nilly. I'll outline a couple of pieces, I'll do some criscrossing over a section at a time, I'll make it up as I go.

L'il Brown Quilt

Back to being a Work in Progress: WIP.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Owls! Puppy on the coffee table!


When Moonstitches had just first posted her owls, I was smitten. Swooning.

When someone needed a gift for a 1-year-olds birthday party, I jumped out of my chair. An Owl! That kid needs an owl! Let's go make a prototype and pick fabrics right! now!

As long as we were at it, I threw one together for a co-worker who could use a little cheering up. She named him Puppy.

An Owl for Charlie, a co-creation with my roommate:
Owl for Charlie

Puppy on the PrOwl on the Coffee Table:
Puppy in the living room

-Inspired by Moonstitches. I saw a pattern schematic and made it up from there, with a quickie "muslin" test.
-Wool plaids from an old upholstery sample book, just the right size for these and not much more.
-Other fabric scraps from stash.
-I couldn't wait for Moonstitches' kindly provided "tutowlrial", but it's quite nice, and I am excited to try her method for the circle on the bottom - mine are a little free-hand wonky, though I'm pleased with my improving blind-stitching skills.

AmberCake-Faked Innovention: filled mostly with polyfill, then lentils for weight. It takes a little manuvering and a careful holding of the gathered bottom to get them to stay in there. Gives them a nice weight, makes them stand up straight or roll up to standing however you sit them down. Also, makes it a paperweight, which is exactly the excuse we all need to make them for grown-ups!