Monday, January 8, 2018

Mostly Doilies

There was a remnant of Alize Miss Batik left over from "Etienne", so I decided to make a tiny doily from it.  There were still leftovers, so I crocheted the tiny doily pattern again. 

(One can never have enough tiny doilies, I guess.  They also make fun things to put in with gifts.  Even if someone isn't necessarily a "doily person", they might still find a use for one of this size.  They are cute in a frame or used as a coaster, for instance.)

So, these first photos are actually of the second Miss Batik "Mathilde".  (I can tell because I finally ran out and had to use a solid-colored thread for the last round.)

"Mathilde"

"Mathilde" is a fun little pattern designed by Grace Fearon.  It's one of her free patterns.  These are my second and third times crocheting it.  The first was in Cébélia.

"Mathilde"

And here's the other "Mathilde"

"Mathilde"

Considering that they're worked in the exact same thread, it's interesting how different they can look, depending on where in the color change you start the doily. 

"Mathilde"

For my next thread project, I broke out another skein of Alize Miss Batik-- in a different colorway (#4535)-- and crocheted "Wendy", another pattern by Grace Fearon. 

This particular colorway isn't my very favorite-- too much beige for me?  too "Southwestern" for my tastes?-- but it's not bad.  The pattern's good, too, though I did have some trouble with one or two spots.  (If you're interested, see my Ravelry project notes for details.)

"Wendy"

"Wendy"

"Wendy"

"Wendy"


"Wendy"


When that doily was finished, I weighed it and the remainder of the skein and was surprised that they were very close.  So... I decided to crochet the same doily again with the remnant.  (Is that weird?)

Because I was worried about running out too soon, I started the pattern with leftovers from another ball of thread.  I thought the salmon I chose was a fairly close match with the pink, but after I'd been crocheting a bit, I realized that the pink in the Miss Batik is a softer, cooler pink.  Well, I think they work well enough. 

Despite my precautions, I ran out toward the very end, anyway, so I added in another scrap-- a pink that's a closer match than the salmon. 

"Wendy"

Again, it's interesting to see how different parts of the pattern are highlighted, depending on where you start in progression of colors. 

"Wendy"

It's fun to watch the colors change and interact with this thread, but the texture of the thread is different from what I'm used to.  It's softer-- not as sturdy.  I would like it even better if it were a firmer thread, more along the lines of Aunt Lydia's or Cébélia. 

"Wendy"

"Wendy"


"Wendy"


- - - - - - -

Tidying up the craft room, I came across a few scraps of cotton yarn. There wasn’t enough for much of a project, so I didn’t want to stash it away. Better to just whip it up into a few more cotton dish scrubbers.

Two of them are linked double crochet (ldc) squares. The third is just an improvised circular scrubber. None of them are much to look at (edging could have been applied more evenly, for one thing), but they’ll do the inelegant job of scrubbing, and I’m glad to have those scraps used up!
Dish Scrubbers

- - - - - - -

I'm trying to resist the temptation to start another doily or start joining the granny square blanket.  The hedgehog mittens are languishing from lack of attention.  I allowed myself a break from them around Christmas, but the time has come to power through.  ...Or at least spend 15 or 30 minutes every evening on them!

Heart Vines Hats

It's been what feels like forever since I knit these hats, but it was really just a little over a year ago.  Though they were both knitted in under a month, I never weaved in the ends and so never took any photos.  Since I wanted to give them for Christmas, I was finally motivated to get it done! 

The pattern, from what I can recall, was a lot of fun to knit.  It's one of those patterns that looks more complicated than it really is. 

Pattern:
Heart Vines Hat, by Sara Kay Hartmann

"Heart Vines"

I made two of them because the first one turned out smaller than I'd expected.  It then occurred to me to give the small hat to my young niece-- and to make a second matching hat (in a larger size) for my sister (the niece's mother). 

(The second one did turn out a little larger, but neither are huge hats, by my estimation.)

"Heart Vines"

Here are the two hats, the smaller one stacked on top of the larger one:

"Heart Vines"

And again, side by side:

"Heart Vines"

The yarn (Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend) has been discontinued, which is a shame, because it was a pleasant, soft yarn that (apparently) can be machine-washed and -dried. 

I believe these are the last two hats I've made... I enjoy making hats, but can only use so many of them myself (especially given our relatively short winters).  Donald rarely wears either of the two I've made him.  (He prefers a type of hat that I believe is called a flat cap-- not a type that lends itself well to the kind of knitting I like to do!)  Family members get the occasional knitted hat as a gift, but I don't want to go overboard. 

I have an idea or two of ways to dispose of superfluous hats-- if/when I ever start knitting them in greater numbers. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

FO: "Marion"

Pattern: "Marion", by Grace Fearon
Thread: DMC Baroque (size 10) in "Ecru"
Hook size: 1.75mm

Click here for my Ravelry project page.

"Marion"

The designer now offers (as an additional, separate purchase) a full-project video tutorial (which streams through Facebook, I believe) for people who can prove they have bought the written pattern.  I haven't seen it and don't plan to purchase it, but I imagine such a video would be useful for crocheters who have trouble working from written instructions or who are apprehensive about following an advanced pattern on their own.

"Marion"

My project notes:
What an excellent doily design! The texture is amazing and the written pattern detailed. I enjoyed making this from start to finish.

This is not for a beginner (unless it’s the most adventurous, determined beginner in the world!), but if you take it one bit at a time, I think it’s less challenging than it may look. Just be sure to read the pattern carefully, count your stitches, and use stitch markers when directed. Personally, on long rounds, I find it helpful to use a ruler, index card, sticky note, etc. to keep track of where I am in the instructions. This helps me refer to the pattern at a glance with less confusion.

Again, a great pattern.
If/when I make it again, I’ll try to remember to cut my thread and do an invisible join after finishing round 6-- or whichever is the last round before the blo (back loop only) stitches that create that prominently ridged circle near the middle of the doily. It’s not bad, the way it is, but I think that extra bit of effort might make it look even better.

"Marion"

This doily was a bit of a challenge to block-- not impossible, but more work than average.  (However, I'm not an expert blocker at the best of times...) I think it came out pretty well, though. 

Now for the rest of the many photos I took...  (I can't decide which ones are best, so I'll just show 'em all!)

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

"Marion"

I'll definitely want to make this one again.  I love it! 

I've been thinking about taking the trouble of entering a few items in the county fair, next September (or whenever it comes around), and this is one I think might be worth taking. 

Quilt Crumbs and Granny Squares

I finished "Marion" a while ago, but simply never remembered it needed blocking until nighttime, and I prefer to do my blocking when there's plenty of daylight and I'm fully awake.  Last week, I finally remembered at an appropriate time, so the FO post for that should follow shortly.

Otherwise, I've been sewing more crumbs again.  It's slim pickings in my crumb box.  The box is by no means empty, but there's not a lot of variety, so I'll probably stop again, before long.  Time to work on something more structured and let the crumbs accumulate a bit.  Even without as much variety as I'd like, it's still fun to see what you can make out of practically nothing. 

(The seams didn't all meet in that star block on top.  I need practice!  --But since this is super casual scrappy/crumby piecing, I'm not that bothered.  It's plenty good enough for my crumb quilt.)

Crumb Block WIPs

My current crochet project is also scrappy.  It's something started in April 2016 and recently dug out of hibernation.  These are scrappy, three-round granny squares from the left-overs of various other projects.  The plan is to lay them out and settle on their final arrangement, then join them with a continuous join.  (It's similar to the join I used for these cushion covers, but this time I'm following a different pattern.  More details down the road!)

Scrappy Granny WIP

While these granny squares are scrappy, I've been a little pickier about color choice than in my last granny square scrapghan.  It's still plenty scrappy, but I've allowed myself to put some rules into place.  For instance, I pulled seven squares from the pile because a hot pink I used earlier in the project just didn't feel right to me, now.  I'd already worked in the ends, so I'll set those aside for a future "kitchen sink" afghan.  (I also pulled the hot pink yarn from the basket so I won't accidentally use it again for this project.)

Once I chose my joining color (a medium grey), I decided that two other colors I'd been using were too close to that shade to be "allowed" in the third round of any granny square.  That added another handful of squares to the "not now" stack.  Making 10-15 more squares was a small price to pay to get the color scheme the way I want it (even if no-one else would ever have noticed or cared).  And those reject squares will be fine for a future project, I'm sure.

Scrappy Granny WIP

I made a test run by joining four granny squares with the continuous join.  It refreshed my memory of how continuous join works, provided a chance to see how I like this slightly different pattern (it's great!), and gave me an idea of how much size the joining adds to the granny squares, so I could estimate how many more were needed to reach the desired afghan size.  All helpful-- and it showed me that because of the texture and thickness of the joining yarn, it might be wise to go up a hook size when I start joining "for real".  (I'll at least give that a try.)

I probably won't start joining the granny squares just yet, because I want to finish those hedgehog mittens for Kimberly.  I want to start them over again, because I think I can make the cuffs a bit neater than on my first try-- and I want to make them a little longer in the wrist/hand.  Getting started will be the hard part (as almost always).  It's a knitting pattern, so that should make a nice change from all the crocheting I've been doing, lately. 

"Marion" wrap-up post coming soon!

Monday, November 6, 2017

FO: Dancing Pumpkins (+ Doily WIP and 1st FMQ Trial)

(Squeezing in as many mysterious abbreviations as possible in that title field... ;o))

First, I have way too many photos of the latest finished objects-- the "window quilts".  Here they are after quilting, but before washing.

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

I straight-line quilted them on my sewing machine.  This is the most densely I've ever quilted anything bigger than a pot-holder, I think.  It was sometimes a struggle to maneuver through the limited harp/throat space, even with such a relatively small piece.

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

The backing is just the same cream sheet I used for the carpenter's star "window quilt" I made before, and the binding is a solid golden yellow.

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Here they are after washing and drying.
First, the valance/runner.  (I don't think I got the whole thing in any single photo, but this is the gist of it...)

The first photo was taken with a flash; this is how the valance generally looks when the light inside is brighter than the light coming from the window.  The second has harsher lighting from above, which emphasizes the quilted texture.  What I didn't do was get photos of the light shining through the quilt, from the window.  (To be honest, I'm not sure I love the way these look with the light shining through them.  So many pieces means lots of seams.  I'll give it some time-- the rest of the month, at least-- but in future, these may be used as a small wall-hanging and table runner, instead of as window coverings.)

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Next up, the larger of the two, on the kitchen door.  You get a hint of the light shining through in most of these (all but the second one, which was taken with the flash), but it's not as extreme as it was earlier in the day.

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

I do like the "dancing pumpkins", and they were fun to make!

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

Pumpkin "Window Quilts"

- - - - - - -

New topic!
I've been wanting to try the free motion quilting (FMQ) function on my sewing machine.  Over the weekend I finally did!

I made up a couple of small quilt sandwiches for the purpose.  They're just plain scrap sheet fabric on front and back, with scrap polyester batting.  I lowered the feed dogs, put on the quilting foot (a.k.a. darning foot), adjusted the upper tension (from a 4 to a 7, which seems to be about right on my machine), and gave it a whirl.  (All this was after first watching some videos on YouTube.)

...It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the people (even the hobbyists) who put up FMQ videos are usually somewhat experienced and therefore make it look a lot easier than it will seem to beginners.

I've read enough to know that there are as many tips and tricks and ideal set-ups as there are quilters.  Everyone is different-- and every sewing machine make/model is different, too.  Just about the only tip that seems to be universal is that practice is necessary to improve and gain the necessary muscle memory to FMQ smoothly.

In the photo below, you can clearly see a difference between my first try and my last.

FMQ Trial #1

My curves still lack smoothness, and sometimes I feel like the fabric is moving in a "jerky" way, which leads to elongated stitches in some spots and short, dense stitching in others.  Still, it's an improvement over my first few lines of stitches.

I've read almost too many tips and tricks-- which can be overwhelming and confusing-- but some are easier (and cheaper) to implement than others, so I'll start with those.  (I've already decided that taping wax paper to the sewing machine was not particularly helpful for me, for instance.)  I think the key is going to be practicing.  A little every day would be ideal.

FMQ Trial #1

- - - - - - -

Progress is slow on "Marion"-- simply because I haven't been crocheting as often or long as I sometimes do-- but when I'm working on it, I'm enjoying it.  The texture is amazing and the design elegant.  While it does require some attention and concentration (in spots), so far it hasn't been as complicated or difficult to crochet as it may appear.  (Of course, up-coming rounds may make me eat those words!)

"Marion" Doily WIP

I think it's going to be a beauty.  Definitely a pattern I can imagine making multiple times, because it holds your interest but is still enjoyable to crochet, with a lovely final product.

(Oh, and the Baroque thread continues to be nice, too.  No more knots since that first one.  It's a quality thread, but I still would prefer Cébélia for future purchases-- unless I came across an unbelievable sale on Baroque.)