Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alaska and back

Do you remember the shawl I've been working on for over a year now? Yeah, I'd forgotten about it, too, for a while there. Sometime last year my grandmother mentioned that she'd like another shawl so I kept my eye out for a nice wool/silk blend yarn in a color I thought she'd enjoy and settled on a Romi Hill design. I brought the yarn along on our vacation last year and cast on while sailing somewhere in the north Pacific. After assorted fits and spurts of knitting (including one mad dash when I thought I might have a chance of finishing the shawl before my grandparents came to visit earlier in the summer), I finally had this to show:

It strikes a dramatic pose well, don't you think?

The pattern is Romi Hill's Fiori di Sole, worked in Miss Babs Yasmin (I used approximately 3/4 of the skein) on size 4 needles.

I absolutely love the edging pattern - so much fun to knit! After the clever beginning, you can zoom through the leaf lace body of the shawl while you look forward to the edging chart. The crochet bind-off took forever but was well worth the effort.

I really like how the designer took a basic stitch pattern that many of us have seen and knit several times before and layered on clever details to make the project worthwhile. The petals at the top of the shawl are gorgeous. And I especially appreciate details like having you knit the center stitch through the back of the loop for a nice clean line down the middle of the shawl.

Hopefully my grandmother likes it! (It would probably help if I actually packed up the shawl and mailed it to her, don't you think? That's on my to-do list for this week.)

I had a lot of fun blocking this one - more than I had expected. You see, my helper decided she'd rather play in my office than take a decent nap the morning I decided to block. Of course she woke up after I'd started soaking the shawl so there was no turning back at that point.

At first, she thought we should be spinning instead of playing with finished yarn.

But then she discovered the T-pins -

Discovering this little person was suddenly mobile on a floor with sharp pointy objects was not how I intended to finish this project. Like a good parent, I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture before moving her out of harm's way. Let's just say it was an exciting morning and, thankfully, the only thing that got stabbed was the carpet.

And just in case you thought I was going to be a tease and not share a picture of Alaska, since that is where this all started, here is the Dawes glacier just after dawn:

What a way to kick off the day.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Instant Gratification

That's really what sewing projects feel like to me, especially when most of my knitting projects seem to be stalled (that's a topic for another post when I have pictures to share with it).

A few weeks ago I shared the quilt top that I pieced in an hour. I'm still blown away by how quickly that went. I'm a reasonably speedy knitter but you just can't make something that big that quickly with knitting needles and yarn.

The rest of the quilt took a bit longer but I think I finished it the next weekend (these last few weeks have gone by in a blur - I know I finished the quilt on a weekend but I can't remember which one at this point). And now I have a lovely baby-sized free-motion-quilted quilt.

See? Baby-sized. Six-month-old baby sized, to be exact.

Although technically it fits a three year old, too, if you don't mind doubling up.

The top is made with assorted purple batiks I received as a gift ages ago (although I still don't think I'm old enough to have received something "ages ago"). I used an Alison Glass print for the back and a coordinating Kona solid for the binding, which is machine stitched. I just didn't have the patience to do this binding by hand, not when I was so close to having a finished product to play with.

And by "play with," I mean run outside, put the baby on it, and start snapping pictures. Let's just pretend that this shot was another attempt to show the backing fabric.

Just like we'll pretend that I was trying to capture my quilting stitches in this one rather than someone's baby blues. 

I think I'm hooked on free motion quilting - there's this heady feeling like you could do anything with the stitching. At this point I need to start practicing better control over the stitches. That's for the next project. I'll definitely need to buy more fabric!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Besides the knitting

I've actually been pretty productive on the knitting front lately. I finished my big lace shawl, and the lace scarf that has been my train knitting for much of the last year. Are they blocked? Well, no. But I did weave in the ends, so that's something, right?

And I've almost finished a sweater for sprout (my replacement train knitting once I finished the scarf) and started a new sweater for her once the first one got too finicky for commuting.

Do I have pictures of any of this? Nope.

But I do have pictures of the other crafty things I've been up to besides the knitting.

After all, I have my Tour de Fleece spinning to share:

That's 612 yards of BFL 2-ply (roughly a heavy fingering weight - I haven't checked the wpi count) spun from 6 ounces of Briar Rose top. The Tour was a fantastic way to focus on spending time at the wheel. I actually managed to spin every day that the riders raced. But I've managed to sit down at the wheel only twice since. Not for lack of motivation (I'm really looking forward to spinning up the second half of my fiber and turning it into a Tilt wrap), but there are only so many hours in the day/week and I have plenty of other demands on my time.

Like this little person helping me take an FO shot of my new yarn:

 Just for comparison's sake, here is (part of) what I spun when I first did the Tour three years ago

and this is the not-yet-washed BFL from this year

What can I say? My girls like yarn. At least they come by it honestly.

Yarn isn't the only thing to keep me occupied these days. The quilting bug bit again. I'd pieced these giant flying geese blocks while I was still on maternity leave and then sewed them together into a mini quilt top a few weeks ago. The fabric had been sitting on my desk for a while and, with some great encouragement from Jacey, I decided that decluttering my workspace needed to include taking my first stab at free motion quilting.

It's not perfect (there's a reason I'm not showing the back) and quilting only in the dark sections hides imperfections nicely, but it's done! And I had so much fun that I'm planning to use FMQ on my next quilt, which I spontaneously/accidentally got started on this weekend with leftover squares from Tadpole's birthday quilt.

Yes, I probably should have watered the back garden instead of dragging Mr. Tinks and Frogs outside to snap a quick picture. But I was so darned proud, I couldn't contain myself. You see, I somehow managed to lay out the blocks and chain piece the rows together in an hour on Friday night. An hour!

And, just in case looking at this picture makes me think that I really should go put my quilt sandwich together (a very bad idea) instead of knitting a few stitches and heading to bed (the responsible approach), I'm going to leave you with a shot of our pumpkin collection. 

Who knew pumpkins ripened in August? Not me. We're going to be eating a lot of pumpkin pie this year.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tour Update

No fancy updates here but I did finish my second bobbin of Briar Rose BFL last night so I'm all ready to start plying tomorrow.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer non sequiturs

I'm spinning like a dervish (well, a dervish who sneaks in 20-30 minutes with the wheel after work in the evenings) and having a blast with the Tour de Fleece. So far, I've managed to spin every day of the Tour. Yay! Naturally, my photographic evidence is scant - my only daytime shots are from last weekend and are making their way from my phone onto the computer while I type (along with several hundred other pics of this and that). Tomorrow is a rest day on the Tour and I'll poke around a bit to see if there is some fun way to show off my nighttime snapshots of spinning progress. A gif maybe?

But for now, I thought I'd share a few non-spinning delights. Ok, not too far removed from spinning, at least for this first one.

Pretty much as soon as the yarn was dry, Tadpole and I wound up my new polwarth/silk yarn. And I cast on the next day. Kuura is a delightful pattern to knit - interesting yet intuitive and not too busy. I'm flipping the main body and edging charts to have a lacier body to the shawl. We'll see how it looks in the handspun.

So far, so good. This yarn is just lovely to knit.

And, bit by bit, I'm slowly working the crochet bind off on my Fiori di Sole shawl.

I feel like this is moving at a glacial pace but it's not quite that bad. Maybe more like tortoise speed. It would probably finish up more quickly if I didn't ignore it to play with my new handspun.

And, in non-knitting news, I have pumpkins!

Honest to goodness pumpkins in my backyard garden (ok, expanding onto the driveway, if I'm being really honest). That picture is a day old now and the little pumpkin was almost the size of my fist when I went to check on it this evening.

I've got some handspun calling my name before it's time to turn in for the night so I'll just leave you with this shot of our garden visitor hanging out with the zucchini.

How many rows can I knit before I nod off on the needles?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And we're off!

Sitting down at my spinning wheel last month proved much more fun than I'd hoped. The polwarth/silk blend was a dream to spin and exactly what I needed to get back into the groove with my wheel. So, in a typical fit of ambition, I decided to join the Tour de Fleece this year.

I have a bump of 12 oz of Briar Rose Fibers BLF top that will be perfect for my goal of spinning every day of the Tour. And I have my team in place to cheer me on:

We dropped our cable subscription ages ago so I was thrilled to see that you can download an iPad app to watch the Tour de France. Tadpole and I watched today's stage streaming live while I spun this morning.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before I could spin the BFL, I had to finish up my polwarth/silk blend. Nothing like a holiday weekend (and a baby who naps reasonably well, not to mention a three-year-old inspired to nap, too, by the prospect of staying up late to watch fireworks) to make the time to finish up spinning and plying that fiber braid.

This is the first handspun yarn that I've wanted to start knitting up as soon as it came off the niddy noddy. 

That's approximately 4 oz, 418 very light, airy yards of worsted spun 80/20 polwarth silk top from SweetGeorgia Yarns

It's still ever so slightly damp so I'm trying to restrain Tadpole's (and my) urge to wind it up right now. I think it wants to be a Kuura with the charts flipped like in this version.

I think we can hold off a little longer. My team is chomping at the bit to get back to spinning.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rogue fibre

It's been a while since I've sat down at my spinning wheel - I'd gotten bogged down in an ill-fated attempt to learn woolen style spinning. So, with a burst of inspiration from a fellow spinner, I decided it was time to go back to my comfort zone of worsted style.

This week I pulled out a braid of Sweet Georgia polwarth + silk fibre in the rogue colorway and stole some time to sit back down at the wheel. (I may have even moved sprout's play mat down into my office/craft room so I that could spin a bit with her while tadpole was at school.)

Hello, wheel. It's good to see you again.