Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Last Niece

At least, I assume she's the last one.  All the siblings have sworn off having more kids, so I think this is the last niece/nephew quilt I have to make until they go to college or get married or have their own babies.

This was for Daria, the sister of the Turtle Quilt Recipient, so I wanted them to kind of match. Continuing with the animal theme (their room is covered in a rainforest mural), I went with cats. An obvious rainforest animal choice, I know.  I had this great Japanese watercolor print with about six different cute cats on it from back in 2011 (you can't find it online anymore) and with just a quarter yard it was hard to get enough cats to fussy-cut.  If I'd had just a few more I might've made this quilt a tiny bit bigger. I centered the three inch cats in economy blocks:

and interspersed with the same blue as DJ's quilt:

Then added the same border as DJ's:

Finally, for the back, I had a scant three yards of this fabric that I fell in LOVE with - but I bought out the bolt and didn't have quite enough:

At quilt camp we headed to Marden's a super-discount fabric place, and I found bolt upon bolt of this stuff for $2.99 a yard, so I got four more yards.   A little overkill maybe, but I finished the back with no problems:

I also had left over solids and borders, so I added some pillowcases for both the Ds. Gotta keep that fabric stash under control.

All in all, it seems to be going over very well:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bubbles and Bubblettes

Doesn't it seem like I should like champagne? I'm the kind of person that's into celebrating and bubbles and funny, heartfelt toasts.  I won't drink it though. I hate the glasses - they tip over too easily, they're awkward for those of us with more substantial noses, and the flute is my least favorite instrument. Also, I'm prone to migraines, which follow a glass of champagne within the hour. I always admire those pretty yellow bubbles from afar, though.

Maybe I'll just have a sip of yours and we can toast to this quilt that I *almost* finished last summer.  I had it all tied but had not sewn up the bottom, and nothing goes on the blog until it's really finished! The last couple of weeks have been really productive for me, even if it feels like the creativity peaked a couple of weeks/months ago and now I'm just doing the menial work.  I've completed my last three niece and nephew quilts and this is one of them.  The champagne connection is that I wanted to use all these fabrics that I love from my scraps to make circles that would look like bubbles, and champagne bubbles seem more fun than the sodastream variety. I arranged the big bubbles on the bottom and the bubblettes on top.  For the circles I just traced lots of round stuff I found around the house - mugs, salad bowls, lamp shades.  This has ended up being one of my favorite quilts.  If I ever felt like doing the same thing twice I'd make myself one right now.

This is the back - the flower fabric was what I started with and worked around:

I tied it with embroidery floss in the center of each flower, how cute is that?

This niece has a birthday in April - hopefully she'll like this as much as I do!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Turtle Time

I just got back from Quilt Camp.  It was like if you were in a really nice sewing room working on a quilt and forty ladies with wine and dessert joined you to chat and sew, but didn't crowd you, and you didn't have to leave the room for 72 hours. Oh, and someone had replaced your crappy rotary cutter and slippery rulers with really good ones!

Best things about quilt camp:
1. My room was so unattractive I wasn't even tempted to lie in bed reading past 7:00a.m.

2. People change into their PJs after dinner and bring their own wine glasses ("Once you start drinking, no more cutting.  Sewing can be undone, but what's cut is cut," was a good piece of advice).

3. This table that totally demolished any self-control I came with  (I was halfway through a brownie when I realized I was actually eating a whole candy bar that had been BAKED INTO A BROWNIE).

4. But by far the best part, was the input from people who are just good at this stuff.  I managed to finish two quilt tops - one of which I'll share now because I FINISHED it today!  This is for my nephew who is really into turtles and garbage trucks.  You'll never guess which obsession I'm supporting.  Anyway, I found some turtle quilts around the internets that used a drunkard's path pattern, and I was especially enjoying this configuration where it looks like they're doing Ring Around the Rosie. I just added appliqued heads and tails to make them more obviously turtles.

I was more or less satisfied with the end result, but I wouldn't say I was excited about it until a couple of people suggested a fun border.  With a little input, the quilt changed to this, which I think is so much better:

After I sent a picture to my nephew his only question was whether the turtles had eyes, so I added a variety of those:

This is the back - I had to join two panels of fabric together.  Don't bother looking for the seam, it's so perfectly matched you won't find it.  Learned that at quilt camp too. (The trick, not the lack of modesty!)

No, seriously, can you find it?

It really makes me wonder how much better my quilts would be if I had this kind of input all the time.  It was a totally inspirational weekend.  I feel like the things that most impressed/inspired me were the color and pattern combos people were putting together (developing an eye for color and contrast is a skill I'd like to work on) and just how fast some people can quilt.  No wonder I tie everything, I'm so slow and it's impossible to mess up!  But it also inspired me to get practicing.  I'm sure it's much more enjoyable when you can whip through stuff and it looks good.

With all that productivity I'm hoping to have a couple more quilts to post about in the next couple of weeks. Until then, you can find me back in front of the sewing machine.  I missed her!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

gLoved Part Deux

I've been a little absent from this space but it's not for a lack of productivity.  It's just that when you're 40, you start taking on more complex projects and the finishes are fewer and farther between! All I've completed this month is this pair of fingerless gloves for a dear friend going through a rough time.  Because when you can't say it with words, you can always say it with needles:

The pattern was free and not too hard, although it involved dk weight yarn (read: dental floss) and size 3 needles (toothpicks).  No sign of arthritis yet.

And then, because Karma works like this, my friend Kelli from a couple posts ago dropped off these lovelies, knit by her mother:

Have you ever seen anything so cute? They are toasty and beautiful and we gLove them.  So thanks Ms. Barbara!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forty (not ounces)

I'm turning 40 in a second, and while I've been making that joke for most of my 30s, it's suddenly no longer a joke.  For my 40th I've decided to challenge myself with the Vivian Cardigan which has been in my Ravelry queue since September 7, 2010. Thanks Ravelry, for maintaining a procrastination timeline for me, totally appreciated.

Here is Vivian - I can't tell you how much it pains me to see her using the cuff of a hand-knit sweater to wipe oil paint off that canvas.  Clearly she didn't knit it herself:

This pattern is a little intimidating and I'm going to have to adjust for measurements, something I've never done before.  But I'm 40, and can do this.  If I were 20, I'd  just shrug and say "Math is hard.  I'll make a scarf instead," knowing I had years to come back to the Vivian.  But I'm 40 now.  I have the patience of middle age, a phone that doubles as a calculator, and a narrowing window of arthritis-free years ahead of me.  This is the time.

I started out by searching the local knitting stores for the right yarn and finally settled on this pretty baby alpaca from Juniper Moon called Dark Harbor.  It's sooo soft, just the kind of thing the most impressive sweater you ever knit should be made of.

I forked over my $120 for the baby alpaca (surprising cheaper at Gather Here than online) and wound six balls of yarn for myself - ensuring that it was no longer returnable.  It's a good sign when you keep petting it, right?

Then I dutifully made my swatch to check gauge, and I knit 5 stitches to the inch instead of 4.25 which doesn't seem like a big deal until you think how many inches there are.  It's already such a loose knit that I don't want to up the needle size.  For all you non-knitters this basically meant that I was stuck with six balls of non-returnable, too-thin yarn.

But I'm 40 right?  So I met with one of my many newly-in-her-40s friends, who happens to be good at math, and over coffee and a 4 lb. chocolate eclaire, phone calculators in hand, we THINK we have solved the problem - and not with more math.

Katie's going to knit the same sweater - so it's not like she's working for free!
We just manhandled my swatch until it fit the gauge - I'm sure this is exactly how Elizabeth Zimmermann would do it.  It took two hours to write out and knit the first row.  This thing is either so complicated you'll never see my mistakes, or so intricate you'll notice every one.  I'll share the final product either way.  My goal is September (I guess I should specify, September 2014).

And for those of you who are wondering - THIS is 50:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Curse Of The Love Sweater

I learned it as the "Sweater Curse" but whatever you want to call it, the belief is widespread among knitters: if you try to knit a sweater for a significant other, the relationship will fail before you finish it. Some people think once you're married the curse no longer applies, but I'm (conveniently) not one to tempt fate.

My way around the curse was to seek out the hand-knitted sweater that I would have made for Mr. Responsibly if I wasn't constrained by the curse.  That's how he ended up with this pretty Irish fisherman's sweater by a Maura Kennedy.  Maura and I, because I like to think I had something to do with making this sweater before it appeared on the shelf at Irish Imports, chose a lovely blue/green wool that matches his eyes but falls a little flat in these pictures:

My plan worked, it definitely makes him feel loved:

Since then I haven't really knit for him.  I don't do gloves, and Mr. Responsibly doesn't wear scarves much.  Really all he's ever gotten from my needles is one unwearable hat.  I just can't quite get it right.  Back in 2008 I really wanted to make him the Elizabeth Zimmerman Watch Cap:

Nice job,!

After three attempts with the same ball of yarn, I'd made two too small, one with a super girly brim when you folded it (I think I cast on too tightly), and finally, well, this last one:

I gave up.  But this December we could not find the box or shelf or drawer where we must have packed away our winter things so Mr. Responsibly has gone hatless.  I decided it was time to try again.  No more pork chop stitch, we're vegetarians.  No more worsted, I was going chunky.  No more variegated burnt orange, it was time for a conservative charcoal.

Sometimes I like it, but from the side I'm less sure: 

Is it still a little off - too long maybe? Does he just need better glasses frames? Or does my simple little hat just not stand up next to Maura's sweater?  I guess the only thing that really matters is, he wears it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Going Back to Cali

I did it.  I took my toddler on a cross-country flight, all by myself.  I'm not sure I would've done it if I'd known we were going to add 3 hours to the flight so we could "refuel in Salt Lake City due to the strong headwinds," - an excuse I still don't believe, given I've flown this route a million times since 1992 and never encountered that issue.  But luckily we had an absolutely charming 10 year old boy sitting behind us who was willing to copy every noise J made for hours on end.  This was her feet through most of the flight, trying to scale the back of her seat as she air kissed, spit and squealed at her new friend.

The red-eye return trip kind of sucked since (as I learned later) my girl had mild pneumonia, water in her lungs and a double ear infection.  If there's a prize for observant mothering, I apparently am not winning it!

But the point of the trip was to see some of my west coast family for a pre-Christmas Christmas because none of us wants to travel during the real week.  It's nice: you get a tree together, play Christmas music, open presents and pretend it's the real thing. And I took pictures of none of these things since I was for once living in the moment and forgetting to record it!

Which gets me to the MADE part of the post.  You may remember I made this lovely wallet for myself earlier this year.

It's a great pattern from Blush Bunny that you can get here - and though time consuming (some hand work), totally worth it and not that hard since the instructions are so detailed.  I'm going to say it's about a five-hour project from ironing to final thread clip.  Seven if you're making two!

This time around I made the credit card slots a quarter of an inch narrower (my cards fall out sometimes because the slots are a touch too wide) and I used a medium-weight interfacing, which gave it a more structured feel than mine has.  For my sister I used this really pretty muted fabric with maroon accents.  In case you hadn't noticed, that pink/lavender color is my favorite right now.

For my mom, who like me does not fear the bright, I went with this fabric.

A little modern, but one of my favorite color combinations.

I was practically finishing them on the way to the airport so I didn't get any photos prior to wrapping.  When I grabbed them a few hours later to take pictures, they had both already been filled by their respective recipients.  I'm taking that as a compliment.

Hint for next year: start the Made gifts in November.