Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top o' the Quilt to Ye ;o)

All that remained to do to finish the quilt top for the Scrap-Happy Herringbone quilt was to pin together and sew one more long seam.  So of course it took me a couple of months (or more?) to get around to doing it.  But hey!  It's done now!

Next up is figuring out the backing.

A while back, I actually bought some fabric to make a pieced backing for this quilt, only to get home, look at those pretty-pretty fabrics, and think, "No.  You are too good for a quilt back."  ...So now they're in line to become another quilt top, at some point in the future.  The backing will probably be a vintage sheet.  I'm still pondering the options.  (And to be honest, I'm nervous about taking the next step... This will be my first quilt sandwich.)

Here are some photos of the newly finished quilt top, stretched out on our bed.  It's not meant to go on the bed, by the way, so it's not nearly big enough for that.  For scale, it's a king size bed.

(Here is where I put in some disclaimer about how I'm still learning and my cutting isn't always exact and my seams aren't perfectly straight, and I'm just hoping it all holds together for a while before coming apart.  ...Ok, now for photos.)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Scrap-Happy Herringbone Quilt (Top)

Still on the subject of quilting, I've started playing around with the layout for the string block quilt.  I could probably spend hours rearranging these blocks and still find something to nitpick.  ("Oh, but those two adjacent blocks both feature that really distinctive fabric..."  "And now there's too much pink right there and not enough in the rest of the quilt!")

It's probably best if I just let it be semi-random.  (Not that there's much of a choice, with such random, scrappy blocks!)

String Quilt Blocks

I really like the look of string quilts-- and making the blocks was a lot of fun, too.  I'm very interested in making more string blocks at some point in the future.  (I've even made a Pinterest board for string quilts...)

String Quilt Blocks

The only downside to string quilting that I can see is that to get a really scrappy look (which is my favorite), you need to collect scraps from quite a lot of fabrics.  Of course, if you're an avid quilter, this is probably not a problem-- and there's always the option of buying smaller cuts of a lot of fabrics (particularly when there are good sales).  If you're not worried about cost, jellyrolls are an easy way to amass lots of strips-- but I'm too cheap thrifty to go that route.  ;o)

- - - - - - -

The next blog post should be about the latest crocheted pillow, and there ought to be photos.

Finished Doily and Tackling UFOs

(This post has been languishing in "draft" mode for months.  I forgot it existed-- but since I don't believe I've addressed these topics in more recent posts, here it is, now.  And because I finally got around to blocking the doily, I can add a few photos, too!)

I finished the Vintage Roses doily!

Vintage Roses Doily

That pattern generates so many loose ends, and I left them all until the end.  I really and truly hate weaving thread ends.  If there are only a few, that's fine, but fiddling with that tiny needle hurts my hands, so I was dreading the tidying up phase of this doily. 

Amazingly, though, it turned out to be not so bad, after all.  It still took some time, and I'm glad it's done, but most of the ends were right near very roomy, convenient hiding places, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Then it was time for blocking.
Some doilies are a breeze to block.  Others are an absolute nightmare.  This one fell somewhere in between, but closer to the "ugh, please go away" end of the scale.  I'm not thrilled with my blocking job, but it's satisfactory.  

Vintage Roses Doily

Vintage Roses Doily

Vintage Roses Doily

Plop that puppy under a bowl or something and no-one will ever think twice about sub-par blocking.  ;o)

- - - - - - -

After snipping the last thread, I was on a "finished object high", so I went looking for something else I could do for another quick shot of accomplishment...

There was that straw hat with the chin-tie ribbons I'd been meaning to sew into the hat-band for... never mind how long.  (My current straw hat is wearing out after more than a decade of gardening use.)  A few minutes with needle and thread, and now that's done, too.

In the process of finding the hat, I came across a basket full of crochet and knitting projects waiting for blocking.  Many things look so much better with blocking, but it's so hard to make myself do it!

Then there was the Rhubarb Scarf Wannabe.  When I came to the point where I needed to join the two ends to make it into a cowl, I set it aside.  I think I was feeling indecisive (who, me? but that's so out of character!!) about whether or not to make it a cowl, and if so, whether or not to add a twist to make it an infinity cowl.  Clearly, this was a major decision requiring the weighing of pros and cons-- and probably hours of painstaking research.  So of course all these months later I just cavalierly picked it up, twisted it once (to infinity and beyond!), and slip-stitched it without a second thought.  (Why couldn't I just have done that, back then?)

The join is visible, and I'm trying to decide whether to leave it as is or add flowers to cover the join.  The flowers would surely attract even more attention to that part of the cowl, but since they'd be a design element, I guess that would be ok.  I could add flowers to one or two other places around the cowl... I'm still considering it. 

I weaved in the handful of loose ends and added the border.  I think it's so neat that when you add a border to an infinity cowl/scarf/loop, you just keep going around and around until you meet up with your starting stitch.  Both edges (or what looks like two edges) get a border, just like that.  It feels like a magic trick. 

No photos of the cowl yet.  Sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

All Quiet on the Crafting Front?

There hasn't been much to say about crafting, because I haven't been doing much of it, lately.  (Most of the creative/spare-time energy has gone toward gardening, I guess.  That and reading a few novels/listening to audio versions of short stories.)

Not that there's been no crafting. 

I sewed Luna a new chew pillow toy.  That took 5 to 10 minutes from start to finish.  I used a couple of scraps of polar fleece fabric to make a tube stuffed with acrylic fiber.  Since the fleece doesn't fray, I left the seam allowances exposed.  This is her third such pillow (though each has been a slightly different shape), and she enjoys playing with them-- fetch, gentle tug-of-war, chewing.  They're not as cute as a stuffed animal toy, but on the other hand, there are no plastic eyes or noses-- and no fascinating, flimsy appendages-- for her to focus in on and try to chew off.

- - - - - -

I'm also slowly crocheting a new pillow cover.  It will be a lot like this one I made in 2012, but maybe somewhat larger.  The pattern was originally intended to make a pot holder (from thread), but it works fairly well as a round pillow front covered in "petals".  (The back, I kept plain last time, and I think I'll do the same again.  Saves a lot of yarn-- not to mention time.) 

I'm using easy-care acrylic-- Pound of Love in "Antique White", which is their version of cream.  Together with one of my favorite hooks-- the 4.0mm size Tulip Etimo Rose-- this is working out to be a very pleasant (if repetitive) project.  I love the repetition, honestly.  It's ideal for "don't make me think" crocheting.  When it's done, I think this will go on the bed, where the other round petal pillow resides. 

Photos next time, I hope.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Long Time No Post

It's been a while, huh?

I've been spending less free time crafting, lately, putting more focus on working in the yard.  Now that the weather is heating up, though, I suspect I'll be more and more tempted to stay indoors again.  (Yay? (g))

While there's been less crafting, that doesn't mean I don't have anything to share!

- - - - - - -

First up, a floral doily.

I found the pattern while looking through some vintage pattern booklets I've been given over the years from my mother and youngest sister.  (I think they found most-- if not all-- of them at a used "book store" run by one of the local libraries.) 

The booklet in question, Star Book No. 64: Flower Doilies, was published in 1949, which I find very neat.  Just a few years after WWII... A different world!

...Anyway, one of the patterns looked very familiar.  "Rose Hot Plate Mat Cover, No. 6401" bears a striking resemblance to one I've crocheted before-- the gorgeous doily another blogger reverse engineered.  (Here's my old blog post about it.)

There are differences.  I think Janice's doily has more rounds of treble crochet than the one in Flower Doilies, for one thing-- and more rounds, period-- so I'm sure this other pattern comes out smaller.  The exterior band of "shell  mesh" is larger in Janice's version, and her version has a final border round that the other lacks.

Actually, I made a few changes to the Flower Doilies pattern, myself.  In the second section of "shell mesh", I increased the chain lengths in each round by one.  (I wanted to give myself extra room for blocking it out flat.)  I also didn't always switch colors at exactly the place indicated-- maybe one round earlier.  Since the pattern is intended to be a cover for a hot plate mat, I left off some of it-- just stopped at what felt like the logical point. 

All things told, I think I prefer Janice's version, but I'm not disappointed with how this second doily turned out, either.

I gave this one (along with the very bright yellow "plumbing doily" from last entry) to Mom as part of her Mother's Day gift.

Floral Doily

Floral Doily

Square Doily

Square Doily

Square Doily

- - - - - - -

I'm working on another doily, too, but there are no photos of that one, yet.  (I can't remember where I first saw the pattern... On someone's blog?  While browsing Ravelry?)  It's "Vintage Roses" by Jo Ann Maxwell.  I'll have to wait until I finish it to tell you whether or not I think it's worth the making of twelve roses.  (Ack! All those ends to weave!)

- - - - - - -

The final crochet project since last time was an amigurumi fox ("Adorable Mister Fox", a free pattern by Sharon Ojala).

Every year, I tell myself that that's it for the amigurumi.  Then the next gift-giving occasion for a child in my family rolls around, and I think, "Well, maybe I could make a little something to go along with the rest of the gift..." And I end up grumbling about the difficulties of sewing together all those little pieces and trying to get the face just right-- again.

Maybe this time really will be the last (for a good, long time, at least).

I think my fox turned out pretty well, though (if I do say so myself).  Maybe the button eyes look a little creepy... I didn't have safety eyes, and I didn't want to mess around with yarn eyes (as I usually do).  Since the recipient (my niece Clarabel) is now old enough to be trusted with such things ;o) I thought I'd give button eyes a try.  (Please excuse any blurriness in the photos; I was in a hurry to get it wrapped.)

Crocheted Fox Toy

Crocheted Fox Toy

Crocheted Fox Toy

 - - - - - - -

In between crochet projects, most of my crafting energy was directed toward quilt-piecing.  

...And now I remember that I intended to name that quilt.

Last time I wrote about this, I was thinking maybe something to do with some type of grain or grass, because that's what the alternating shapes of neutral and color remind me of-- but nothing great is coming to mind.

I'm not sure what (if anything) the basic block is called.  The name that came to mind, "broken chevron", does yield at least one very similar result.  Then there's someone calling it "herringbone". 

Maybe I'll just call it... my Scrap-Happy Herringbone quilt.  I think it has a scrappy look-- by far my favorite style of quilt.  

I have no quilt photos to share tonight, but all there is to do is to pin together and sew one more long seam-- and then the quilt top will be done (I think)!  Then there's the issue of the back... and the binding... and whether I'll tie it or try to machine quilt it on my standard sewing machine.  No rush, but it will be nice to at least have the top done.  (Then I can go back and start joining the blocks for the string quilt I was working on as my first "real quilt".) 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Distractions and a Little Crochet

We had a major home repair done last week.  Monday, we found yet another leak in our pipes.  This has been an on-going problem, and it turns out that this particular type of piping has been discovered to be prone to problems.

Rather than continue to patch leaks as they happen-- never knowing when or where the next one will pop up or how much damage it might do (especially if we're away from home at the time)-- we'd already decided to have the whole house re-piped.  But you know how that is. You make the decision, but one thing and then another gets in the way, and before you know it, oops, here's another leak!

Anyway, we went ahead and had it done, and it was finished in a couple of days.  Well, except for the holes the plumbers left behind.  We'll eventually deal with those ourselves (complete with some repainting). 

In addition to the plumbing distraction, we've been working outside a lot.  I'm continuing to mulch and pull weeds-- and now plugging good sod into the weediest patch of lawn.  We're also working (slowly) on the raised vegetable beds.  But the biggest project of the moment is gravel.  My father used a tractor to clear the sod from a backing out/parking area in front of our garage.  We're cleaning up the edges that he couldn't get to with the big machinery, then we'll put down heavy-duty landscape fabric/weed barrier and have a load of gravel delivered.  Then we can tackle the pathway(s) inside the yard.  It's a large project, and I'm sure it'll drag out longer than we'd like.

If you're interested in the continuing Saga of the Gravel (and Other Thrilling Tales of the Garden), I've started a garden/home-centric blog.  Maybe I'll be able to keep myself on crafty topics in this blog, with minimal distractions, but sometimes different interests in life overlap.  They certainly affect one another! 

- - -

All that to say that I haven't been spending a lot of time crafting, lately.  When the plumbers were here, I did some crochet, but that's about it.

First, I crocheted a doily using yellow size 10 thread and the pistachio-handled 1.75mm hook.
The pattern is a chart I found online and printed out years ago, with no name or other identification.  I thought it was a new-to-me pattern, but after a while, I recognized it as one I'd made for Granny L. in white thread, quite some time ago.

The pattern's not bad, but it's not outstanding, either, and since I didn't find it especially fun to crochet, I've thrown it away to prevent another repeat.

Here's a photo (in its unblocked state):

Unblocked Doily

It definitely needs a good, hard stretching.

When the doily was done, I still had time to fill, so I turned to some "kitchen cotton" Mom gave me.  I originally intended to make a few dish scrubbers, but I don't really like the way that thick cotton works for dish scrubbers.  (I prefer acrylic.  Thick cotton takes too long to dry and gets so heavy...)

I think these will serve as fabric trivets instead.  They're too full of holes to be good for pot holders, but they'll work fine for protecting the counter-top. 

Cotton "Trivets"

The two above are an extended version of Motif #33 from Edie Eckman's Beyond the Square book.  As you can see, I've started putting yet another extension on one of them, but I'm having second thoughts... Maye they're big enough as they are.  I might rip that back and call them done. 

That motif, by the way, is very easy-- great mindless crocheting.  The only downside is that the "skinny rounds" (orange, in my samples) don't leave you a great place for hiding the tails.  That aside, it could be pretty-- or clean and simple-- or manly-- or whatever-- in the right colors.  Not complicated, but something a little different from the standard granny square.

Cotton "Trivets"

These are Motif #89 from one of Edie Eckman's other books-- Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs.  They're okay, I guess.  Even better if you like eye-searingly ugly 60s/70s color combos.  ;o) 

I didn't love crocheting this motif.  I definitely would not want to make an entire afghan out of this one.  On the plus side, it's pretty bulky, so it should keep hot pots well off the kitchen counter-top. 

- - -

And that's all!
I haven't touched the sewing machine since the last blog post, I think.  (I want to, but I'm afraid it's going to feel like jumping over a hurdle, getting back into that particular groove, again.)

The hexagon-motif afghan and the old-fashioned granny square scrapghan have gone back into temporary storage.  (This isn't blanket weather.  I am so uninterested.)

None of the many UFOs are calling my name...

I'm not sure what I'll work on next, but I'm feeling the need for something to do with my hands in the evenings, again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A This 'n' That Post

Spring is here in full force, with highs in the 80s already, so I'm trying to get things done outdoors.  Despite plans to get big things done during the winter, most of it is still unfinished.  (Isn't that how these things usually go?)  Mostly my Need-to-Do List is mulch-mulch-mulch and weed-weed-weed, but there are also seeds to start, seedlings to tend, raised vegetable beds to prepare for planting (we moved them this year, and they need more soil), and "rustic obelisks" to build.  Also, we went to a plant show late last week, so there are a few new plants to place.  (Yay for new plants!  I've blogged about this elsewhere, if you're interested.)

Maybe it's as a result of spring that I'm feeling the urge to set aside the cool-weather crafts... Thread crochet is sounding better by the day.

- - - - - - 

Though I've yet to take photos, I finished the second Meret.  (...Did I even mention that I was starting a second one?)  I made the second hat larger than the first, which turned out more child-size than expected.  In fact, I was afraid that merely moving up a size to "large" wouldn't be enough, so I increased two repeats, starting with a cast-on of 96 stitches (iirc).  Anyway, it turned out pretty big.  I'll keep it for myself, I guess.  It "works", but might blow off in a gale, since it's a little loose.  Lucky I have a big head, I guess. ;o)  One of these days, I may make a third Meret, this time sticking to "large".  But right now... I think I'm tired of knitting hats.

Wham Bam Cowl Reworked

Wham Bam Cowl Reworked

A long while back, I knitted a "Wham Bam Thank You Lamb" cowl, but I never really used it.  The yarn wasn't bulky enough, so the resultant cowl felt skimpy.  I unraveled the cowl and am knitting it again, holding the old yarn (Yarn Bee Andes Alpaca) together with a strand of another yarn (Yarn Bee Effortless Chunky).  I think I'm pretty close to having knit enough.  It's set to the side for now, waiting to be measured, bound off, and seamed.  There's no need to rush, since it probably won't be cowl weather again for a while.

- - - - - - 

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

Old-Fashioned Granny Squares

I needed some mindless crochet, earlier this month, so I pulled out the on-going scrappy granny-square afghan.  It really is looking scrappy.  Since I'm joining squares as I go and introducing new scrap yarn as it becomes available, I think this will turn out to be the most truly random afghan I've ever made.  No careful planning.  Not even a lot of artful "looks like it's random but it's actually not" arrangement-- or at least, not as much as I'd normally do.

- - - - - -

And finally, there's the quilt.  (I really need to come up with a name for this one... "Half Square Triangle Quilt" feels a little too dull.  The pattern reminds me of some sort of grass or grain, so that will probably be the inspiration...)

I haven't done a ton of work on it, lately, but there's been some progress since I took this photo:

HST Quilt Progress

There are now three completed strips, and I've joined the first two strips together.  Whew!  Long strips like that make me a little nervous, but it seems to have worked out okay.  Photos next time, I hope.

Meanwhile, I've started cutting some 6-inch squares so I'll have a "Leaders and Enders" project to work on while I continue piecing this half-square triangle quilt. I had been sewing the remaining HSTs as my leaders and enders, but then I went ahead and finished them up (so I would more easily see exactly how many I have of each color, for even distribution).  Now I have nothing but a little thready scrap of fabric to start and end with, and I feel guilty about it, for some reason. (g)

My leaders and enders project is not at all carefully planned out, at this point.  I found a small picture of part of a quilt and loved it-- and it looks simple.  I'm not sure what this pattern would be called... It's a type of four-patch quilt with alternating diagonal lines of four-patch squares and solid squares, with darker/brighter colors forming diagonal lines within the four-patch "stripes".

...After a little more research, I think it may be "Rainbow Rows" by Lyssa Alexander.  The pattern's available in the April 2015 edition of American Patchwork and Quilting, if anyone's interested, and there's a link to a free size chart on this page.

I can see that I'm making my squares smaller than they "should" be (if it's even the same pattern).  Well, that's no big deal.  I doubt mine will come out at all the same in feeling as the one in the photo, but that doesn't mean it can't be nice in its own way.  :o) 

Finished Meret

I just found this draft version of a post.

Here it is, albeit late:

I weaved in the two tails on the Meret, today.  It still needs washing and blocking (not sure how much I'll block it), but here it is, fresh of the needles.

I tried it on to see how it fits me, for future reference.  It did turn out a little small for my tastes.  The brim fits, but it's snug, and the body of the hat was much less loose and beret-like than I'd like.  I think it would work well for someone with a smaller head, though.  Maybe a child. 

If I were to make this pattern again (and I might) for an adult, I'd go up to the large size and work at least two extra repeats.  (This time, I worked one extra.  Without that, I think it would look very odd.  But then again, I don't usually like tight/small hat styles.) 

Fit aside, I really enjoyed this pattern.  It's just complicated enough to keep it from being boring-- great for knitting while you listen to TV or an audiobook.  The new needles were great, too.  I think I'm liking these sharp tips! 

And here's the finished hat (but not a very good photo of it, I'm afraid):

 I haven't washed or blocked it, yet.