Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scrappy String Quilt Progress Post

It's an honest-to-goodness sewing-themed blog post.  It's almost as though this blog is aptly named!!  ;o)

I've been sewing the scrappy string quilt from the kit Mom gave me-- and I'm really enjoying it!

A few progress photos?

Scrappy String Quilt

This is probably how I'll lay them out, with the white central lines forming diamonds.

Scrappy String Quilt

In the photo above, you can see some of the currently "in progress" blocks, draped over the sewing machine. 

Scrappy String Quilt

And here's a peek at the twenty blocks I've completed so far!

There are another ten "in progress".  I'm not sure how many I need... I'm running low on the (very subtly-patterned) white fabric that goes down the center (or somewhere in that vicinity) of each block, so if I want to stick with one fabric for that (and it's probably best that I do), that'll determine how many more blocks I can squeeze out.  If the blanket needs more size, I might make a more elaborate (wider) border.  You can also put sashing (if that's the right term) between string blocks, but I'm not sure I'm up to that, yet. 

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With the string quilt holding sway, the Catherine Wheel scarf has been put on the back burner--  but it has the benefit of being a good "couch project" for those nights spent in front of the TV or computer.  (Both quilt and scarf have to compete with Luna, who is still enough of a puppy that she requires extra attention.)  The scarf is moving along very slowly, but at least it's still on the radar.  However, with Thanksgiving next week, time to work on a couple of Christmas gifts is tick-tick-ticking away, and the scarf will have to go back into hibernation.

(Reminder to self:  Do not give in to those insane whims to start a bazillion last-minute gift projects!  Just don't.  The potential recipients will never know or care that you didn't get around to making fill in the blank this year, and the holiday season will be so much nicer if you aren't needlessly stressing.  At least make an effort to scale back.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crocheting & Quilting

The doily has been done for several days, but remains unblocked.  I think it may need a bigger surface than the foam insulation board I normally use for blocking.  (Another largish doily has also been hanging around the house for over two years, waiting.)  There's a new system I want to try for blocking larger items, but since it's new, there's a tendency to stall... Maybe sometime this week...

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After finishing the doily, I picked up the Catherine Wheel scarf again.  It was slow going at first.  That yarn (Premier Serenity Sock Weight) can be splitty.  It's giving me less trouble now, but I'm not sure whether that first bit was different from the rest or I've just gotten better at dealing with it.

I had to refamiliarize myself with the pattern.  I skipped right to the chart, missing some notes jotted on an earlier page of the print-out-- notes in which I described some slight alterations to the pattern.  The changes were important enough that I had to rip back a hard-won row or two.  But things seem to be on the right track, now!  Smooth sailing.  

I knew before I started that it wasn't going to be a real duplicate of Moonstitches' Rhubarb Scarf, but looking at it now, I see that the colors are really completely different from those in the "inspiration scarf".  Also, it looks like the original yarn had shorter color repeats than I made-- and much more subtle transitions and variations in color...

If I wanted to try again for a closer copy, I'd keep one colorway much more pastel or neutral than the other.  One would be a cooler color palette with soft blues and greens and creamy beige, the other all warm shades of scarlet, rust, and brown.  The palette in my own yarn is all over the place and brings to mind a bowl of Froot Loops... or Willy Wonka's Bottle Caps candy (g) more than an earthy bundle of rhubarb!  Ah, well, I'm sure it'll still be warm and cozy, even if the colors are ca-razy.  ;o)

Crochet Scarf

I'm about halfway through the yarn dyed for this project.  (I'll need to dye one more ball for the edging, I think. It doesn't have to match perfectly, and I'm thinking of just choosing one color-- maybe pink or purple.) 

I've started thinking of making this into a cowl instead of a scarf.  Technically, it's long enough to be a cowl right now.  I could make a second cowl from the other two balls of yarn.  The problem is that I'm not sure who I'd give it to... Would anyone (that I know) other than myself want such a kooky, colorful cowl?  Nah, I think it'll work better as either a scarf or a looong cowl.  The cowl vs. scarf decision can wait until later.

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Last entry, there was a crochet book in one of the photos. While looking through that book for a good rose pattern (for the doily), I was reminded of some of this particular book's shortcomings:

Very Useful Key...

Oops.  Someone forgot to replace the placeholder text with real definitions for the symbols!  Fortunately there's also a written pattern, so unless that's also messed up, it should be possible to crochet the pattern.  Still, it's not very professional.  (I guess I never got around to "reviewing" that book... Maybe sometime soon.)

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Quilt Kit (from Mom)

I've started working on the string quilt kit Mom put together for me!

There are no photos of the progress, but I'm in the middle of sewing a handful of string blocks.  I'm sure my sewing could be better, but it's a scrappy-style quilt, so it doesn't have to be perfect-- and I'm enjoying it!  Admiring all the different prints and colors... The soothing process of pinning, sewing, and pressing... (Well, sewing isn't always soothing, because I tend to have a lead foot!  Need to work on slowing down and getting my lines straighter.)  Watching the blocks come together... It's fun!

I don't see any elaborate quilts in my immediate future, but down the road, you never know...  When I first started crocheting, I never realized how absorbing it could be, either. 

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Quilting and working on the scarf/cowl should keep me busy for a while, but there's also a secret project on the horizon... Maybe a few of them.  I'm trying to keep my holiday crafting to a minimum this year, but there always seems to be something that you feel you need to make or do. 

Then there's the yard.  All summer, I excused myself from dealing with most yard work in the heat and humidity by making lists of the things I would do when the cooler weather arrived.  Now it's pleasant outside again, which means it's time to start making good on my promises.  *GULP*

First up is pulling the last round of summer weeds (mainly gripeweed, my mortal enemy) and planting the pots and pots of daylilies we started from seed earlier in the year.  Also, it's time to move some things into the garage in advance of freezing lows.  We placed a shelving unit in front of the south-facing garage window, where I hope the tender plants will get enough sunlight to stay happy. 

The colder weather is expected here by Thursday night, so it's time to get crackin'!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Progress Report

Ok!  Doily progress report!

Doily in Progress

I'm in the middle of adding the "afterthought" white picot trim to the previous band of turquoise.  It's going pretty smoothly.  As long as this doesn't somehow mess up the blocking by making that round too tight, that should be fine.

The next step is choosing pretty rose and leaf patterns.  I have a few options bookmarked in this book (Harmony Guides Crochet Stitch Motifs).  Now for the difficult process of actually making a decision!

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Afghan in Progress

I added a few hexagons to the stash-buster last night.  Those little hexagons are fun to make! 

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I'm feeling the urge to start a(nother) knitting project, but maybe I'll resist and pull out one of the crochet WIPs instead.  The Catherine Wheel ("Rhubarb wanna-be") scarf was just barely started when I put it away, but I think that one has real potential... It should be fun to watch the colors change, but I have to, you know, crochet until I come to those color changes in order to be able to enjoy them.  ;o)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Doily Progress (???)

I did run out of the light aqua thread for the current doily-in-progress.  It was so close, but there simply wasn't enough yardage, so I ripped out that round and started again with a different thread-- Aunt Lydia's in "Aqua".

The two aquas are not quite the same, but they're not glaringly different, either.  If only I'd known I wouldn't have enough of the first aqua, I could've introduced the second aqua earlier in the doily.  There are two repetitions of those meshy, loopy bands in the doily, and crocheting with the darker aqua for just one round, earlier in the pattern, would've made the use of two shades look entirely intentional.  But I was unwilling to rip back to that point-- and it's fine as it is!  Most likely, when it's in use, there will be something on top of the doily, covering enough of it that you won't even think about it. 

When I came to the final round, with all the picots, I decided to use white.  I hadn't used white in the rest of the doily, but my other options were the first/main aqua (wasn't sure I had enough), the turquoise (didn't think I'd like the look), or the second aqua (plenty left, but seemed like using it for the final round would make it even more obvious that I'd run out of the first aqua). 

I'm thinking of going back and adding a modified, simpler picot round to the edge of turquoise earlier in the pattern.  It might make the white feel more a part of the doily as a whole-- like a lace trim.

Also, I was debating whether or not to add a rose to the center.  Roses in the center look pretty, but the way I tend to use doilies, 3-D embellishments can sometimes be completely hidden-- or even get in the way.  But now I'm thinking a rose is a must.  The petals will be turquoise-- maybe with some of the darker aqua in the center-- with white leaves. 

This doily has turned out to be a lot more work than I expected!  It's larger than expected, too, and I don't even want to think about all those ends that will need to be woven in...

I'd hoped to finish the doily this weekend, but if I don't feel up to all this improvisation (just yet), it may have to wait while I turn to the comfortable repetition of the hexagon stash-buster...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mysteryghan Finished!

The 2014 Mysteryghan/Deco'Ghan is all done.  Ends woven in-- washed-- dried.
Photos, anyone?

It's not my favorite afghan I've ever crocheted (the colors...), but it's not hideous, either (imho). Of course since it was a mystery crochet-along-- and I was trying to stash-bust-- some of my color choices/placements could have been better, but I don't think it looks bad.  Even the dreaded harvest gold is alright in this context, I think.   (To tell the truth, the longer I look at it, the better I like it...)

Although this is not a huge afghan, it's still been on the WIP list for months and months, so I'm happy to have it completely done. :o)

2014 Mysteryghan

The pattern (Deco'Ghan) has plenty of variation to keep things interesting.  ...Well, there are several of some of the motifs... Twenty of one type of square, I think-- but that's nothing compared to making an entire adult-sized afghan from one type of square.  Lots of fpdc, though.  If you hate them, I think the designer included another option for the center medallion.  I don't hate them, myself, but they do make that center square very thick, compared to the rest of the afghan. 

The downside of this kind of afghan is putting those different-size, different-shape pieces together.  Making sure everything matches up and is in the right place.  All that slip stitching.  All that fudging.  I managed to mess up one of the joins (put it together the wrong way)-- bad enough of a mistake that I "had" to rip it out and re-do it.  Joining is a fair amount of work, all told.  (That's why I insisted on join-as-you-go for the current hexagon motif afghan.)

2014 Mysteryghan

The squares in the four corners are a complete departure from the pattern, by the way.  I just didn't like the look of those squares.  Not my style... I'm not sure that my substitution (something I made up, attempting to keep the stitch count/size right) is really my style, either.  It's okay. 

2014 Mysteryghan

That rope cable border is interesting.  I doubt I'll ever use it on an afghan again-- possibly on a pillow.  It's time-consuming, but the results are attractive-- impressive.  It looks more difficult than it is. 

2014 Mysteryghan

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One last photo! Here's the promised progress photo of the Simply Soft hexagon-motif stash-buster:

Hexagon Scrapbuster Afghan

Ahhhh.  Soothing colors.

It turns out I had more shades of green and fewer varieties of blue than I thought.  That's fine.  Blues.  Greens. Whatever.  ;o)

Another Hobby?

I've been playing around with paints-- acrylic and watercolor-- off and on (mostly "off"), for the past several months.  Just for the fun of it, mind you!  No formal training, as they say.  I used to love drawing and coloring with crayons, markers, and color pencils, as a child.  I still like doodling, on occasion.  However, while I was fairly good at drawing-- for my age-- as a child, I'm afraid that my artistic skill stopped developing, at some point.  Sadly, I can no longer say I'm a decent artist for my age.  ;o)

Well, if I can make something I'm not ashamed to hang in our own home, that'll be satisfaction enough.  I can only improve with practice, right?  And it's a very engrossing pastime... Pleasant, too, until you realize you've just messed something up royally and will have to try to fix it, somehow.   

Donald has painted/drawn pictures as gifts for members of his family, before, but he's yet to make anything for us to keep.  I've asked before, but he has other hobbies he enjoys more, I guess.  Maybe if I nag with enough persistence... Or if I hang twenty or thirty of my own "masterpieces" throughout the house, perhaps he'll be inspired to contribute to the gallery.  (g)

I would ask for kindness, gentleness, etc.-- but I've long since turned off comments (because I'm shy)-- so there's no need.  ;o)

Until today, I hadn't photographed the first "dabbling" with acrylics on canvass, because it was such a copy-cat project.  I took the idea from something on Pinterest.  It turned out okay, but I think I probably went a little overboard with too many little dots of color (and not enough nuance).  The original is much nicer, but at least this was still fun to make (and looks better from a distance, I think):

Pinterest Copy-Cat

For the second canvass, I went off in my own direction, and it looks... :o/  Like something you'd find hanging in the room of a 7-year-old who loves pink glitter and purple ribbons and asks Santa to bring her a unicorn for Christmas?  (g) 

Pink Sky wtih Cartoon Clouds

See that weird purple moon?  That's what happens when you try to paint the silhouette of a bird in flight-- something better than the old "M" birds we all know so well-- are horrified with the results, gripe and stomp for a while, then settle down to figuring out what in the heck you can do to salvage the mess.  Hm... Purple moon it is, then!

After the incident of the horrifying bird, I thought that maybe it was time to take a break from the acrylics and try my hand at watercolors.  Donald had bought some watercolor supplies back before we met.  I'd tried them once before, but I was a bit too "sketch something in detail and then stay inside the lines" with that attempt.  This time, I found an example of a somewhat looser style and let that be my inspiration. 

I was actually happily surprised by that attempt:

Watercolor Dabbling

Sure, there's plenty of room for improvement, but it's not too far off the mark of what I intended.

I tried another little watercolor that same day...

Watercolor Dabbling

The trees are more than lacking, but I liked the clouds...  And it was fun

After that, there was a pretty long break from painting of any kind...
Then some floral doodling colored in with watercolors...

Watercolor Dabbling

Also fun, and a good way to learn a little more about how the watercolors behave under different circumstances. 

Here's the latest effort in watercolor:

Watercolor Clouds

This was my own idea, even.  (Oooh, aaaah... ;o)) 

The current WIP is a pair of abstract acrylics-- another Pinterest inspiration.  I'll be sure to share a photo and a link when they're done. 

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From now on, there may be the occasional painting project post, in addition to the typical crochet and knitting.  I'd really like to start sewing blocks from that string quilt kit my mother put together, too, so maybe there'll be sewing-themed blog entries soon.  (Actually, I know there will be sewing blog posts, because I sewed a curtain a month ago and have yet to photograph it-- and there's another curtain cut out but not yet sewn together...)

Monday, October 20, 2014

No FOs!

I still don't have any finished objects to show!

1.  Donald was sick with a cold most of the week before last.  It always throws things a little out of kilter when one of us is sick.

2.  Now that the cool weather is finally here (after cruelly teasing us, then deserting us again), we've been trying to get a few things done outdoors.  I've been pulling weeds.  (SO MANY WEEDS.  Piles and piles of them.  How did they grow so quickly?!)  Then over the weekend, we took out a rotted fence post and put down a new one, which involved clearing some overgrown grass and pulling/attaching the fencing material.  Also, we started work on the round "stone bed" over the septic tank.  Took out the stones (as many as possible), put down old asphalt shingles to serve as a barrier, and put the stones back on top.  (Lesson: Stones work their way into soil with alarming speed, without some type of barrier in place.  Or at least these did.)  We still need more stones to finish the job, but it's much better already.

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A brief summary of WIPs:
--  The two-color doily.  There's been real progress on that one.  I'm nearing the second band of the accent color.  The only trouble is that I'm not positive that I have enough of the main color.  Thread always seems to last longer than you think it will, though.  If not, I'll probably add in a third color-- white-- and just make the most of the situation.

--  The Simply Soft hexagon scrap-buster.  Fun to crochet, less fun to weave the ends, but I'm caught up, now.  A photo next time?

--  The 2014 Mysteryghan.   I've actually finished that one-- all but the end-weaving.  I should be able to do that tonight, though, so maybe there'll be a photo session tomorrow.  It's not a breath-taking beauty, unfortunately, but at this point, I'm just happy that it's almost done. 

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For a while, I was also pondering the possibility of casting on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I've never knitted mitts, gloves, or mittens before, but I've been meaning to give it a try.  I was comparing patterns for hours, dithering among three or four "finalists".  Then I decided which one to use-- and some distraction promptly appeared-- right on schedule-- so I haven't given it another thought since.  Maybe once I finish the Mysteryghan and the two-tone doily it'll be a good time to start something new.

I wonder if I'm up to the "two-at-a-time" technique..