Friday, May 1, 2015

Works in Progress

Ah spring. Tis the season for spring cleaning, yes? However, since I don't feel like PHYSICALLY tidying anything, I've focused on getting my lists cleaned up. Let's pretend that's a thing. I've updated my goodreads page and my ravelry projects, as well as the projects page here on my website. Funny, how even though it's just cataloging things I've already done (and even the list of things I just INTEND to do), it makes me feel so much more accomplished.

With that, here's a little status update of what I've got going on currently.

I'm working on some stretchy ribbed tube socks, brightly colored in hopes they will actually be worn. If not....I might be done making kid socks. I'm using the toddler tube sock recipe by the Knitmore Girls, with the change of working them toe up. I think I'll run through the color sequence one more time so that bubble gum pink lands on top. The yarn is Knitpicks Felici, snapped up the last time it was available.

Not to be outshone by a toddler, I'm also working on socks for me. As I'm starting to amass a bit of a stockpile of sock yarn, I decided that self striping yarns would be a simple stockinette pattern, while solid colors should be knit into a pattern for a little interest. This tweedy sock yarn, also from Knitpicks, may have caused me to stumble a bit though. I'm working the Uncommon Dragon chart from Lara Neel's Sock Architecture (affiliate link), again, modified to work toe up. (I think I'll just do a different kind of heel than written. This is one of the few patterns from this book written ONLY for top down, due to the pattern flowing right into the heel. I don't know if I have the brainpower to make that work upside down - working the chart upside down is enough of a head trip, especially since charts are new territory for me!) In the end, the socks will still be wonderful to have, and learning to read charts is great for developing my skills, but the pattern gets a bit lost with the texture of the yarn. I think it stands out a bit more in person, but honestly not that much. Oh well - I'm still enjoying it!

Speaking of being new to charts, well of course I would go ahead and cast on not one, but TWO charted projects! I did eventually cast on the sweater that I couldn't quite face a few months back. What, you can't tell that's a sweater? If you need a better visual, it's the Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle from her fantastic book Metropolitan Knits. (affiliate link) This one is definitely going to take a while. I've been tending to knit on it only at knitting group once a week, so it's only growing about 4 rows at a time thanks to my decision to knit it all in one piece. It's also black, in fingering weight yarn, which seems to horrify everyone....but it's something that I KNOW will get a lot of use in my wardrobe. That's the kind of knitter I am. I like to knit for the process, but I also like having the finished object and knowing it's something that will fit into my lifestyle. I try not to be seduced by pretty yarns in the skein if I can't honestly see them being something I would love to wear as much as look at. The sweater so far is pretty basic, mostly stockinette with a lace panel up the fronts. That rolled edge at the bottom (this is worked bottom up) will eventually be sewn down as a nice tidy hem, and the front has an i-cord edging that is worked as you go. Ideally it's worked starting right above the hem, but some knitters forget to read the directions fully when trying to mash together the chart, the i-cord, the two fronts and the back and may or may not have started it a few rows late, and decided that it definitely wasn't worth the trouble to rip it back after having cast the darn thing on three times. I'm not naming names, but I think you can guess who I'm talking about.

Last I've been meaning to pick away at giving the studio both some organization and some actual decorating. Way back in September, I saw a burlap covered pinboard and knew I must have one.

Another thing I apparently also must have is a stronger pair of shears. 

I feel like I've heard of a million different people using homosote for an economical way to DIY huge pinboards. Can I tell you what a pain it was to find this stuff? I looked it up on Home Depot's website, and since it autocompleted and showed me a picture of something that looked right, I assumed they had it. Yes? NO. What actually popped up in the search was MDF, but I wasn't reading carefully. There is no way I'm going to push a pushpin through MDF, so that was definitely not going to work. I was on limited shopping time and was feeling too impatient to go somewhere else, so I punted. I thought, well I could use some insulation board as the substrate, and put some of that cork roll on it to better hold the pins, and then I can just wrap the whole thing in burlap and no one will be the wiser. Who knows, this may have actually worked, but the guy at Home Depot that I grabbed a 4'x8' sheet of insulation, and asked if he could cut it into 2' strips so that I could get it into my car. So he whips out a blade and just starts slicing! I asked, well....are you going to measure that? He said, no, there are marks here that are 2'. He hands me a terribly crookedly sliced piece of foam that is definitely NOT 2' wide, which I pointed out to him with actual measuring. He shrugged and kept cutting. I said, look, I am ACTUALLY looking for 2x4 pieces, so can we just start with a new piece? He grumbled but did actually go to get a new piece, which he measured and cut....I could see that it was still a bit crooked but I tried to convince myself that it would be ok. I paid and went to put it in the car....and these pieces. They were just. Wow, so bad. I sat down and sighed and I feel like dealing with this later? The answer was no, so I just grabbed the foam and the cork and walked back inside to return them. Later on, I searched out other home improvement stores and found exactly what I was originally looking for at Menards. I'd like to say I've learned a lesson about not being impatient and just making do, but I can't be certain that is not a lie.

Speaking of being impatient, I did straighten out that fabric on the right so it's not quite as crooked. It's still a little crooked, but it's better. I need another pair of hands to help me out hanging these, so they are just leaning on the still unfinished bench for now. I think I might paint and mount a strip of pegboard between them for things like rulers and such. It's a quick turn around from the cutting table, so I think that will be handy.

Last but not least for now, I'm still chipping at that quilt. I'm getting closer! I laid out the batting again, and need about one more row of blocks on one of the short sides and one of the long sides. I've also started figuring out how I'm going to square off the edges. Not pictured yet, but I think it will work. Now my trick is to lay out the last of the flowers without getting similar patterns too close together! I think I'll have to cut a little more fabric to make that happen. I'll probably use some of the already cut scraps to piece a little bit of the backing. Next quilt.....will DEFINITELY be machine pieced!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

All progress, no follow through

Does this ever happen to you? In the middle of 15 things, and nothing quite makes it back into its home?

Ah, there we go. Space to work.

I've recently started using this new list keeping app that I LOVE. It's called TickTick. I think I found it via googling something like "shareable mobile and desktop to do list," or something very technical like that. Let me count the things I love about this app! I have a bunch of lists for things like groceries, target, honey-do....and now I can simply add my husband to them and we BOTH have the list, LIVE in our pockets. Now when I need to stop at the store, I can see what he has put on the list and vice versa, without having to remember if I actually added to my list the thing that we were out of.... I can also add alerts for when things are due, AND integrate it into my calendar. And while that's all fantastic, I have also been using it for my "neverending sewing list" and my "neverending yarn list" and my "neverending Etsy list" (yes, I will re-open someday, but I've put it on vacation mode now as my vision and my mojo aren't quite clear at the moment). All of this rambling to say that I reserved myself a sewing day one weekend, and I wasn't just sitting there what was I going to do with all this time? Watch TV and take a nap? Oh no, I was productive.

I made myself a couple of drawstring knitting project bags. I immediately put them both into use and didn't take any finished object pictures. They are just the right size for a pair of socks or a few preemie hats, and they look pretty sticking out of my purse.

I made a couple of fabric headbands upon request, which turned out really cute! I also did not take pictures of any of THESE finished objects. I did add one for myself to the list (the boring gray one - it's navy on the reverse and can be worn either way) in hopes of encouraging them to be worn for more than 5 minutes, and I'm happy to report that it's super comfortable! I have a high forehead which benefits from bangs day to day, but I do like to pull them back to exercise (haha) or when I'm doing a lot of looking down, like when I sew or sketch. Because I also wear reading glasses, I always worry about headbands causing too much pressure at the temples and giving me headaches, but this one fit really nicely!

Finally, and the ultimate reason I planned this free day for studio time, I worked on a project for a dear friend who is expecting her first little one this summer. All in all, it was a perfect excuse to set aside the time to get some stuff done, and was quite an enjoyable day!

Now, to just get around to those after pictures....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quilt update

At last update, my hand pieced quilt looked like this:

It was about 1/4 to 1/3 done. I've been trying to make this my primary project in the evenings, as it has not escaped me that I said in response to a commenter, "Hopefully it won't take me a year. It would be nice to be done by the time the snow flies!" Not only has snow flown and stopped (and started again briefly this morning, but we won't discuss THAT nonsense!) ...but we're about four months shy of that year mark! (also, if you're curious about WHY in the world I decided to hand piece a twin sized quilt, I talk about that in this post as well.)

Last night I unrolled the actual quilt batting rather than my makeshift kitchen rug template. (Night time photo = sort of wonky colors. I did my best with what the Picasa editing tools can offer - close enough!)

The pink flower in the foreground is loose, so I used it as a rough scale and counted it off around the edges. By my estimation, I have about 18-20 full flowers to go, and maybe a bunch of partials depending on how I decide to finish off the edges. I've been doing about 3-4 flowers a maybe another two months? Maybe I can sneak in the finishing before that one year mark?

I can't believe I've been picking away at this for nearly a year! It's going to look so strange when it finally lands on a bed instead of draped across a chair, half backed with a bunch of cardboard. I'm not sure if I'll be able to give up first snuggling rights. We might have to share!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 2015 day in the life

 Every so often, I see other bloggers doing Day in the Life posts. Sometimes I read them, and sometimes I skip them. It sort of depends on my mood at the time I'm flipping through my feedly. From time to time I consider doing one, but honestly most of my days are quite boring. And while this one isn't actually all that interesting either, I decided to give it a shot this time around, as the blogger running the roundup now is one I've read for years, Julia at My Life in Transition. This very well may be a one time thing for me, but here we go.

As most of my days are nothing but work and probably not much I could photograph, I chose one of my Mondays off. Proving how long it takes me to get around to posting, these photos were taken on Monday, April 6. I was lucky enough to sleep in a bit, and woke to a typical midwestern spring day.

I like to listen to podcasts throughout the day, and this one started off with one I look forward to every month, Never Not Knitting.

A recent re-discovery of late is one of my favorite guilty pleasure breakfasts from my youth. I remember stacks of toast never coming up quickly enough for my family of five. We loved dipping them in the still warm pudding. I'm sure this is practically devoid of nutritional value with the exception of the milk....but I mostly don't care!

While I don't hold out much hope for this to actually grow, I was seduced by the adorable tiny terra cotta pot in the dollar section at Target.

I set up a little table in front of the window in the upstairs bathroom, which is one of the only sunny windows in our house which can actually accommodate something in front of it. (The others which face south are in the stairwell, are right where the refrigerator doors open, or are in the cat's normal resting place which I feel does not bode well for plants.) This bathroom is so strange - it's stacked directly on top of an identically sized and laid out bathroom on the first floor, however there is a shower downstairs where upstairs there is simply a space where it seems like a shower should be. We've considered putting one in many times, especially because the bedrooms are on the second floor, but between that and a facelift to the other bathroom, we're looking at about $10,000. We're getting to the point where we are probably over-improving our house for the neighborhood, so we've been giving some thought to the 5-10 year plan before deciding whether or not to go ahead with a big renovation.

Because I'm so woefully late posting this, I'm surprised to report that there are about half a dozen little daisy sprouts popping up!

For lunch, apparently everything in semi-circles and previously served. Leftover veggie and beef quesedillas topped with sour cream, followed by leftover super sprinkled cookies. Even that milk was taken home from lunch out the day before!

Stickers in our house are a multiple use toy, and these foam ones hold up better than most to repeated stickings. It's quite a feat given the amount of cat and dog hair living on every surface, and these pants are no exception!

Laundry, always laundry.

Apart from getting to spend time at home on Mondays, knit night also makes for a nice and easy start to my weeks. We got a new car a while back, and I love that I can listen to my stories through the stereo. I was accompanied by the fabulous Knitmore Girls on this particular trip. They were one of my very first podcasts a few years back, and I've since fallen down a deep but enjoyable rabbit hole of a ton of other podcasts. Yes, they ARE heavy on knitting content, but there are definitely a few that talk about other things. I try to save those for when I'm not alone in the car. :)

I finished my third pair of socks for my #operationsockdrawer, and I had quite a bit leftover so I made up a little preemie hat from the remaining ball while we were traveling for Easter the weekend before. I tend to get a bit motion sick in the car, so I didn't have anything else with me that didn't require reading a pattern or a chart, which made this little flour sack hat the perfect thing to whip up.

I'd planned to hang out a bit with my husband, but it was the final game of March madness this particular evening, which is just something I can't even pretend to be interested in. I retreated to my studio downstairs with a little hand sewing on the still-in-progress hex quilt. I watched an episode or two of House on Netflix. Is that show still on? I just started watching it about a month ago, and I really like it though I didn't expect to.

So yes, my day probably IS as boring as I expected it to be, but to be honest it was actually pretty ideal in my opinion. I'm definitely a homebody these days, so a day spent puttering around the house is a luxury that I'm happy to have.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A bunny for Easter

If you've never read Posie Gets Cozy, the blog by Alicia Paulson, I won't be at all insulted if you click over to her blog, get lost, and never come back here. Her life seems like the perfect weekend day I can never quite manage to have, AND they've been having dress and sweater weather in Seattle for a while now, which I'm jealous of as I contemplate between heavy spring coat and down jacket on the daily. She does beautiful sewing and embroidery projects and sells patterns and kits on her website. About 6 months or so ago, I purchased the pattern for Miss Maggie Rabbit and have been not patiently waiting to have enough time to dig in and make her up. I'd actually hoped to do it for Christmas but ran out of time. That's ok, because Easter is a perfect, if not obvious, time to gift a little bunny.

(I also finally discovered the magic of freezer paper. So much better than pinning it all out!!)

You guys, I loved making this little softie so much. Everything but her dress was sewn by hand, and it falls right into my recent love for hand stitching. I've made a few machine sewn softies in the past year with the felt you buy in sheets from Joann's, but this time I sprung for the recommended National Nonwovens wool blend felt from Prairie Point Junction, and I don't think I'll ever go back! Other than shipping, it's not that much more than the polyester stuff, and it was a joy to work with. It's much thicker and smoother than the craft store stuff, and I'm hopeful that it won't pill as much as the bunny gets loved.

I'm normally a modern, graphic print kind of gal, but the pattern pictures for this sweet bunny had me pushing myself to go for softer, more vintage looking prints like this one for the lining of the little bunny ears.

She has little boots. I mean, come on. Seriously, so cute. One addition I made was a fuzzy little pompom on her tush for a tail. Some of us are really into tushies and puffballs recently, so I had to. Of course, I didn't photograph this, but trust me, it's cute and worth it. I contemplated waiting to write up this post until I took some fancy finished object photos of Miss Maggie, but the reality is that I'll probably never get around to it. I've been finding that I'm more busy with life than with the documenting of it at the moment, and I think that's ok.

I got this one nighttime shot of Maggie all ready to go in her basket, with bunny jammies as a blanket on a bed of seriously messy paper grass. I went back and forth about knitting her cape, but I'm glad I did. The little dress looked a bit too much like jammies without it. Of course, Maggie is currently nakie other than her boots, which I intentionally sewed on because I was not about to tie and re-tie embroidery floss laces. The best news is that Miss Maggie Rabbit is currently quite loved, and that's the best part of any handmade gift. I won't even mind if she pills, because it's a sign of having been snuggled. I have the itch now to make more felt softies!!

One final Easter note. I tried the Pinterest recipes for natural dyes 2 years ago, and had a total fail. Either they did nothing at all to the eggs, or in the case of the no fail turmeric dye, they just peeled right off the shell! Last year I went traditional and got actual color from a Paas kit, which was fun and no-fail. This year, I found a crazy expensive natural dye kit ($10, for those wondering what crazy expensive in terms of egg dye is), and gave it a shot. Fortunately/unfortunately, it worked great! The dozen eggs we got were a mix of brown and white, and this kit even colored the brown eggs on the right of the carton above. It took much longer than a Paas kit, as the eggs soaked for 15-20 min rather than 3 or so, but we just did some coloring in between and set the timer to check on them. I might try this again next year....or maybe I'll try the food coloring version that's floating around Pinterest this year. :)