Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Socks and snowflakes

We got our first snowflakes of the season here yesterday. Nothing that stuck around - they were those huge, big, light flakes that fall beautifully from the sky. I loved seeing it, but am also thankful that the real snow is still weeks away. In the meantime I am happily knitting socks. I finished up the winter socks (pics below) and am now working my way through the embossed leaves pattern - these are gorgeous socks. This is a picture of the first sock perched up on the couch; a safe distance from little fingers that love to play with yarn. I think I will make a few pairs of these and keep them on reserve for gifts. They are lovely to look at and lovely to wear. Plus, what a great reason to get some more yarn!

Some observations on socks:

1) Socks are a quick knit, almost instant gratification, but I tend to loose steam after the first one is finished. The second one doesn't seem like a challenge, but at least it gives me a chance to fix any mistakes I made the first time around.

2) Having a second sock means that I am able to redeem myself - for any of the said mistakes in the first sock.

3) Size 0/1/2 needles seemed really small to me at first. Almost like they would snap like toothpicks in my hands. But once I got used to them it is hard to imagine that I ever knit socks on anything larger.

4) I thought it would take forever to knit something on needles that small. And while it does take more time (although not much) it makes a much, much, much nicer sock. The embossed leaves, pictured above, are on size 2.

5) The embossed leaves pattern is also the first time I knit with four dpn's. I've only ever made socks with three needles before. I love how you can fold down four needles for travelling - but it does make the sock more clumsy in my hands to start. It is difficult for me to wrangle all those needles and points in the beginning when trying to join the yarn. Any advice here?
6) Purple. Why are both pairs of recently knit socks shades of purple? I have no idea. None, whatsoever.

7) I love wearing hand knit socks. They are a true pleasure in my life. Self-indulgent? Sure. But I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winter Socks

We are almost done! I don't know why it has taken me so long to finish these. Maybe it was the great quilt distraction, but in any event I am determined to complete them! I think that I am going to give my sewing machine a break for a bit and return to the knitting needles to finish up some outstanding projects.

These are a k3p1 rib around the calf and along the top of the foot. The basic sock pattern is from the Ann Budd book. These are going to be comfy and warm by the fire this winter!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fair Isle Knitting

I love, love, love this hat (second photo here) from zeitgeistyarns. How gorgeous! This makes me want to head to my LYS, redeem my GC and learn some tips on fair isle knitting. How, exactly, do you keep the different color strands from twisting up into eachother?! Any advice from seasoned knitters out there?

This hat is just the right inspriation for me to get going on this.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


So I just found ravelry. I signed up for an account (username: attheendofthisrow) a couple of months ago, but really got into it the other night. It is a computer-loving knitters dream! I have entered a few projects so far, but I can see this becoming an obsession for years to come. I haven't started entering my stash yarn yet, but that might actually be a really helpful tool for keeping my yarn purchases in check, and those skeins that literally fall to the back of the closet front-and-center in my thoughts. The queue for 'to do' projects in brilliant too. I used to keep track of my ideas on a paper on my bulletin board, but I never kept enough info.; I always forgot a blog address, or pattern name and so just kept adding new projects. This queue keeps track of it all and the best part is you can link directly to other knitters that have finished projects with that same pattern to keep you motivated!

I also love having the instant feedback from other knitters, including designers. As an example, I posted a message on the pattern forum re: the mystery baby bonnet. Within the day I had received 5 responses that directed me where to go to get a copy of the pattern. I couldn't believe the rapid, and helpful response, I got to my question.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pledge Handmade

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Inspired by TT, I've taken the Esty Handmade pledge. Here's why. Go and check it out for yourself. Very inspriational and given the state of the economy it may be one of the most fiscally responsible things to do this year. And if I can't do the handmade thing for everyone on my list (not enough time), then I pledge to buy local as much as possible.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

quilts, tutus and lonely knitting needles

I think that my needles will be looking for new owners soon if I don't start to pay more attention to them. This week has been about finishing up some quilt and other sewing projects. I was able to complete the second of the lap quilts for my girls - a BTRS easy lap quilt that uses some fabulous Amy Butler prints.

I also completed the quilt for my swap partner and I will get it in the mail shortly. I've only posted a little preview photo as I want it to be a surprise for her.

Tuts were also in order this week as both girl have requested to be ballerinas for Halloween. So, with some inspiration from here and guidance from here I endeavored on making some. Sewing through ribbon and 8 layers of gathered tulle is more difficult than I imagined! I went with a machine sewn design as I was not too sure that the no-sew examples out there would really hold up in the long run. I am glad I did. These tutus have already been around the block on bikes, raked leaves and been party to jumping contests off the living room couch. I have to say, they are holding up! I can't, however, get a photo for the life of me. Maybe when the big day arrives the girls will be more willing to pose. I purchased some cream colored leggings and log sleeve t-shirts from Target to go underneath and they both have pink slippers that I can dress-up with some ribbon to look like ballet slippers. With crowns and wands from the dress-up chest I think the girls will be ready for trick-or-treat.

Last, but not least, my knitting. I am still working on some socks and once those are done I will return to the little sweater to finish it up. I also ordered EZ's knitter's almanac this week and cast on for the embossed leaves socks - size 1 needles are indeed small!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A new quilt in the family

A healthy, vibrant quilt has joined our home! As I am working on the btrs quilt for my swap mate I thought it would be a good idea to make a practice one (or two) first. I used pieces of the Erin McMorris park slope fabric I received from Sew, Mama, Sew awhile back, along side some solids and a nice tan globe print for the backing. The red binding was my husbands suggestion, and I think that it ties the whole thing together in a happy sort of way. It is made of the same fabric as the two red solid stripes (they are folded under in this photo). I think that it came out looking girly, but not feminine (in the traditional pink sense of the word).

I did alter the pattern slightly to make the stripes run horizontal instead of vertical for this one. I had to, once I realized that I had cut the flower fabric in that direction! I also added a few touches, like a strip of the tan backing fabric on the front. A second practice quilt, which also runs horizontal, is in the works too - lighter colors with some Amy Butler fabric.

As for my partners quilt I am making good progress. I did the cutting and piecing last week and finally purchased some good thread to do the quilting with. I also made the binding strips in a fit of crafty energy late one night last week, after typing until my fingers hurt. [I did correct my orientation problem for this one . I designed and sewed it vertically, as implied by the BTRS pattern photo.] I hope to have that quilt ready and in the mail by sometime next week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yes We Can!

I'm showing my political hand here - and my eye for folk art. While this blog is a mostly a creative space, and not necessarily a platform to share my political views, both come together in this piece of art. I felt compelled to post about it. A Denyse Schmidt original. Get your raffle tickets while you can.

And, regardless of who you support, make your voice heard; get out and vote on November 4th.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It is October, isn't it?

In all my craziness with school I have forgotten that it is October. How, as a mother of three, could I have ever fallen so far? I realized this when I wondered out loud to my husband, "why are the girls constantly talking about candy and costumes, all the time, and all of a sudden?" Duh.

What this means is that I have some serious catch-up to play. Halloween and fall decorations to put up, costumes to make, pumpkins to carve, and never-ending chatter about trick-or-treat, ghosts and the dark. To get us off on the right foot I think we'll tackle this project over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Freezer Paper Stenciling Tutorial

My brilliant friend over at Tigerlily Tinkering has posted a great tutorial for freezer paper stencils. She makes a mean turtle! Go and check it out...it is sure to make an artist out of all of us. Although I am too hectic at the moment to give it a try, it is certainly on my back 'project to try ' burner for a cold winter day!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Wall hanging complete (Version 2)

I've been taking a break from sewing and knitting as there are pressing deadlines looming for school: conference papers, fellowship applications and my dissertation proposal. I'm off to sunny FL in early November for the annual ASHE conference, the two fellowship applications are due in just a couple weeks and I submitted the first draft of my dissertation proposal to my advisor this past week. I am now anxiously awaiting feedback to see how much farther I must go before scheduling a proposal defense date (hopefully before December 15th). Once I leap that hurdle I will officially become a dissertator.

However, my in-laws came for a visit this past weekend - partially to help celebrate a first birthday for our youngest. In a rush to get ready I finished up this wall hanging and put it up. I am very happy with how it turned out. I even put two back hanging pockets on it, but no label yet. These crazy 9-patches are the remaining six blocks from my earlier work, what I consider Version 1. Also, now that I've got the hang of binding strips I think that I will take that other one back from my Mom and re-work it. Hope you all have a good week - I'll be putting my nose to the keyboard, so to speak.