Sunday, September 21, 2014

Double Trouble (or, adventures in getting two small children to smile for the camera)

Something about finishing that shawl a little while ago has set of a finishing frenzy (full disclosure: no, I haven't mailed it yet). I wrapped up a sweater for each of the girls and managed to get pictures of both of them wearing their new sweaters at the same time. I should have bought a lottery ticket because that never happens around here.

First up: my baby version of Amy Miller's Princess Fiona pattern for Sprout.

Next, a basic raglan for Tadpole with the raglan decreases hidden in a braid cable.

I really tried to get good pictures of the girls together in their new sweaters. And I usually managed to get a good shot of one but the other was either acting up or melting down. Like this one -

Tadpole looks fantastic and is actually smiling for the camera but Sprout is just done with the situation and is about to wail.

We went outside and had a rollicking time trying to get the girls to look in the same direction at once. Art direction went something like, "Tadpole, look at the camera!" and "Sprout, don't eat the grass!" Someone is constitutionally incapable of staying on her back these days. Anyway, it gave me a push to add "learn to adjust the shutter speed on my camera" to my to do list. (Yes, that list is about three miles long at this point.)

Back to the sweaters. I managed to eek a full-sleeved sweater for Tadpole out of my single 400 yard skein of worsted weight yarn. How? Dumb luck. The sleeves were narrow and that is what saved me - I had about 12 inches left after I finished the i-cord bind-of on the second cuff.

The raglan cables really are my favorite part of this sweater. A close second is the contrast between the seed stitch body and the stockinette sleeves. Such a great mix of textures -- perfect for the subtle shading in the skein.

I had thought to do a baby version for Sprout using the orange yarn you can see above but the seed stitch that didn't seem so bad worked in worsted weight was mind numbing when worked in a fingering weight yarn. So instead I did this:

A top-down stockinette pullover with bracelet sleeves, a placket at the back, and an interesting lace detail at the side (not that you can see it here).

Better now? I may have swatched on this one to figure out my stitch gauge. I don't think there was too much thought behind the initial cast-on (I went with the number of stitches that looked "about right," however you want to define that very technical term). The placket was thrown in so that I didn't have to worry about whether I had made the neck opening too small. Raglan sleeves were a similar choice: they generally fit without any fussing with the proportions. I threw in a slight a-line shape to the body to make sure there was plenty of room and ripped back the bottom hem when I needed some extra yardage to finish the sleeves.

If I were to do it again, I'd change the proportions of the back/front and sleeves at the top of the sweater to make the sleeves narrower and the back/front wider. That said, I'm pretty pleased with this one.

And Sprout is, too.

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!