Saturday, April 26, 2008

Summer Lovin'

The preview of the Interweave Knits Summer Issue is up. A lot of really cute things in this one... The Apres Surf Hoodie, anyone?

Plus one of the models looks like my friend Brandi. Adorable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Blankets Please

Okay, so this is the view out my window today:

Can you blame me for making blankets??

I admit that I felt a bit silly in the last couple of weeks, since I was working on a quilt and planning a knitted lap throw, just as the weather was starting to warm up nicely (I actually went out without a jacket one day last week, which really says something, if you know me.) But then we had some record snowfall for this time of year, and now I don't feel the least bit silly for making so many blankets. I need to keep warm.

I'm still waiting for my quilt frame to arrive, so nothing new on the quilt, but I've wound up some Cascade 220 that I got on the cheap at the Webs sale. Three lovely cool shades of grey that I adore. I've recently gotten the bug to make a lap throw from a pattern that I've been hoarding since I started knitting. I remember when I first began, I saw this entrelac throw and thought it was the most gorgeous thing ever. At the time, the instructions were like Greek and I set it aside for someday when I was more experienced and could figure them out. Of course entrelac is all over the web, and having done enough short-row socks, I was pretty confident that I could handle it now. I was right. Check this out:

Could. You. Die.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Requiem for a project

Well, I took a few days to complete the "day's work" I had left on the quilt top, but it's all said and done, now... Here she is, in all her glory:

As always, I was surprised and delighted at every turn -- sewing the hexagons together in their final arrangement always sharpens and focuses the whole design. I had been somewhat concerned that it was just a big crazy blob of hexagons, but it really came together and confirmed my instincts on arrangement. (Though admittedly, there are a couple that I would love to shift around to perfect things -- good thing I'm not a perfectionist or I'd probably pull out the seam-ripper and get to work.) Then I started sewing on the borders and thought they were going to be a disaster, and detract from the whole thing... but again, my instincts were confirmed, and it turned out really nice, I think.

I have named it Requiem, partly because of the dark fabrics lending it a funereal tone, and partly because I was listening to Mozart's Requiem on a loop for most of the making of it. (80's pop for the rest, but I can't really name it after Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody, can I.)

So that's probably all you'll see of her for a while -- my quilting frame is on the way (yay birthdays!) but it will be months until I have the hand-quilting finished (with the last quilt I made, I really pushed myself to finish it as quickly as possible, and it took a month or two to complete; this one I plan to do more leisurely, so it will likely be end of summer or autumn before I get to the finish line.)

For the record, the backing fabric will be a nice mossy green, and the binding will be a lovely blue, which hopefully will bring out the blues of the quilt.

I'm really happy with this one, but now I have to get back to my knitting...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yeah, yeah, I'm working on it.

Well I must admit it's been a bit slow-going on the quilt, for various random reasons. I haven't prewashed all the fabrics yet... I'm waiting for my quilt frame before I can start quilting... I'm distracted by so many other projects and tv shows on DVD and looming haircuts and general whatnot.

I am a day's work away from having the main quilt top together -- then I will pop on some borders and take a pic for y'all. At the moment, all we have is this photo of some of the strips, which all look verrrry similar, don't you think? I do. Does it make you a bit nervous, how much they all look alike? Makes me a bit nervous. I will just soldier on and I bet it will surprise us all with how it looks in the end.

Meantime, my lone knitty project is redoing my little tam. The aforementioned haircut (to take off all my dreads) will leave my head much much smaller than it was with all that bulk, so I know my tam won't fit anymore. I considered giving it away or trying to shrink it down by felting a bit, but ultimately I came to my senses (?) and realized I could just frog the whole thing and reknit it in the size it was meant to be in the first place. I mean, after all, I love knitting right? Why not knit the same thing out of the same yarn, twice? Stop looking at me like that. It's perfectly normal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Socks Are What Happen When You're Busy Making Other Plans

So I looked away from the tv the other day only to realize that I was doing the Kitchener Stitch on the toe of a second sock! I've been so distracted by the sewing that I didn't even realize how fast I was making my way through these. They are Slippery Socks (ravelry link) and you'll have to trust me that the slipped stitch cables show up a lot better in person than I could make them show up with my camera. Unless you see me in person when I'm wearing them, and then I can prove it.

I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern:
a) started out on a larger needle size to make sure it wouldn't be too tight on my calves.
b) changed the side cables a bit so they have the same repeat size as the front/back cables and realigned them so that the fat part of the side cable lines up with the narrow part of the front/back. I couldn't get a satisfactory pic of this, so you'll have to just trust me that it worked and looks cool.
c) used a 3-stitch garter stitch border on either side of the heel flap, since in my experience, this makes a tidier gusset without the gaping holes I always get when I just do the slipped stitches, as she has it written.

I used Red Corset Osmosis sock yarn in Cafe Mocha, and I really like it. The twist is a little loose, but I didn't really have any problems with splittiness or anything, and it is very soft and comfy. The colours are great and there is enough variegation to keep things interesting, but it is still semi-solid so you don't get crazy pooling or anything. I got the yarn from Pick Up Sticks, who have it in their closeouts right now. Last time I checked, it was half-price. I would buy it all up myself, but I have other yarn already winging its way to me through Canada Post, so I am trying to show restraint. But hey, my birthday is coming up...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Journey to a Hexagon

Well I finished the last of the (114) hexagons late last night. I was so repeatedly struck by how beautiful they are, and what a surprise each one was, that I felt compelled to share that feeling with you, with one random hexagon from the pile.

Of course each hexagon begins with six triangles, each one exactly the same. From the initial triangle, you can try to get some idea of what the hexagon might look like, but of course there are many possibilities, since you could orient it three ways, i.e with the blue flowers toward the center, or the pink flowers, or the little rosehips. This would give three different hexagons, with varied looks. In the construction of this quilt, I've kept the fabric's straight of grain to the outside edge of the hexagon, which means each one can only be oriented in one way: this means that the blue flower must be toward the center. Even knowing that, you can't really picture the totality of how the elements of the image will play against one another (and against the repeats of themselves.)

When you sew the second triangle to the first, you can begin to get an inkling of what you will end up with. Because a couple of the raw edges are gone, you can see which parts of the image will be left once the triangles are sewn together. Sometimes the most dramatic elements of a triangle will disappear in the seam and you will end up with something very different than you imagined. It's still hard at this point, however, to imagine the total hexagon.

Finally, you sew the third triangle in, and pin the two halves together (since they won't be sewn together until after the arrangement of the hexagons in the quilt is finalized.) At this point, the gestalt of the hexagon is apparent. Now you can see what elements will draw the eye, and in what way. Some of them will appear to spiral outward, or inward. Some will be relegated to background, while others pop out at you. Some will make a star or a circle or a flower or a snowflake. Of course, things will still change a bit -- the outer quarter-inch of the hexagon will disappear into a seam when the quilt top is sewn together, and the center line will be trimmed down in the seam, as well. Sometimes, even this last little bit makes a block appear to change pretty dramatically. Certainly it refines and sharpens the design.

I hope you felt a little bit of surprise and pleasure with the development of this hexagon -- imagine getting to feel that more than 100 times! And that's just the beginning. Now I will slap them up on my "design wall" (which is merely a large piece of cheap fabric tacked to the wall) and start to rearrange. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Guess What I've Been Up To...

I'll give you a hint... I've cut up several metres of this fabric into 114 sets of six triangles each (that's 684 triangles in total, but who's counting?) I know it sounds insane, but it really wasn't that bad -- took less than two and a half hours, from the time I started ironing and layering the fabric, to the time I was done cutting and stacking all of the itty bitty equilateral triangles.

Here is another hint... two hexagon blocks sewn up and ready to go. These are only the first two -- I've done 19 so far, and you don't know how hard it is to not put up a photo of every single one (they are all so pretty!) The crazy thing about these quilts (the One Block Wonder pattern that I made before, if you haven't pieced it together yet (uh oh... was that a quilting pun?)) is that the hard part is over by the time you layer the fabric -- cutting the triangles is easy, putting them together is so much fun and then you get to play with the design! I will keep you posted with every bit of the progress...