Sunday, March 24, 2013

Over and Out

It has been two weeks since my last post, and just over two weeks since I finished my quilt. The quilt is a huge accomplishment for me, years in the making. It has been a very successful quilt that we love sleeping underneath. You’ve had some glimpses at it along the way, but here is the finished product.

As I’ve been pondering posting this picture, I haven’t been able to post it with any haste. This has led me to the realization that the time has come for my blog to go on hiatus. While I’ve enjoyed the blog, I have to admit that my days are already full enough and posting on the blog has become more of a chore than a source of enjoyment. So, for now, I will not be blogging. I’ll keep it in the back of my head and may come back to it someday, but not likely this year or next.

I will keep making things (I currently have 3 projects on the go and another dozen in my mind), and in place of my blog, I’ll likely post pictures and brief bits on Twitter, so if you are interested, feel free to follow along at

Thanks for being here to read over the past year and a half. Your thoughts and comments made it that much more enjoyable.

That is all!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Binding the Quilt – The Best Part of Quilt Making

This weekend, I’ve been working on attaching the binding to my quilt. This is my favourite part of quilt making.
First I machine sew strips of fabric to the edge of the quilt.
Then I fold the binding over and hand stitch the binding in place. 
The result is a nice, neat edge for the quilt.
What makes this my favourite part of quilt making is that I get to snuggle up on the couch, under the quilt while I sew the binding in place.  Cici has discovered this is her favourite part of quilt making too, and she has been snuggled up with me for much of the weekend.
Jacob also couldn’t resist joining us on the couch, but he is a teenager so we are not allowed to take his picture.
Here are some extra pictures of Cici enjoying the quilt this weekend.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Hand-me-down Yarn (a la Cici)

This week I completed a new project using some hand-me-down yarn.

To set some context, I don’t like receiving hand-me-down yarn or fabric. I knit or sew with that which inspires me, and I find it difficult to get inspired by others’ cast off supplies. I hate saying no to my mother, but I’ve had to say no to her offers of fabric and yarn more times that I can recall. I try hard to avoid situations where I have to decline generous offers of yarn, because it is hard for me to get inspired by yarn that I didn’t pick out. We live in a teeny, tiny space, so there isn’t room to store a lot of yarn and fabric for use “someday”. I have received some great gifts of sock yarn in the past that I’ve enjoyed using, but in those cases they were picked out special for me and held more meaning that the typical hand-me-down yarn scenario.

So why did I work on this project using someone else’s yarn? Well it started last Saturday when my sister sent me a funny picture of a dog wearing a crocheted sweater that made it look like a sheep. It was hilarious and Cici would have looked perfect in it, but I just shook my head at it and tried to walk away from the computer. But of course, I couldn’t walk away without checking out Ravelry first to see if the pattern for the sheep sweater was available. I did uncover the source of the sheep sweater, but the pattern is still in development. While on Ravelry, I checked out the other 1,135 patterns for pet clothing (yes Ravelry has 1,135 patterns for pet clothing!) and was frustrated to discover that most dog sweaters are designed for dachshunds or yorkies, not for my muscle-bound staffy. Oh well, I didn’t want to knit Cici a sweater anyway.

As the hours passed by I continued to mull about the idea of a Cici sweater when I remembered I have some completely impractical white hand-me-down yarn in my stash. White and boucle – kind of like a sheep!  At Christmas my sister foisted a bag of yarn on me and said I should use it or give it away or something. It was a bag of quite nice boucle yarn, but not something I’m really interested in. When she gave it to me we were in the midst of family gathering chaos so there wasn’t much for me to do but accept it. But on Saturday I was happy I took it, as the wheels in my brain began to turn.

Then I remembered one other ball of yarn I had, that I didn’t necessarily want. One day a ball of bizarre pink and purple eyelash yarn showed up on our apartment. I questioned a friend of mine about it, since only she and our superintendent have keys to our apartment. Eyelash yarn didn’t seem to be what Simon, the Super would use, so it must have been left by our friend, but she claims it wasn’t her and blamed Cici for leaving the yarn. I decided that the yarn was not something I would ever use, but the frugal part of me kicked in and rather than throw it out, it got stashed away in a drawer.

So, bring all that background info together and the result was this completely impractical white sweater for Cici, with some lovely pink and purple trim. 

She loves it! (You can tell by the look of disdain on her face.)

The best thing about a dog, compared to a cat, is that a dog lets you play dress up with it. J

Two last thoughts… I’m very impressed with the fact that I was able to make up this pattern and it fits her perfectly, and I will never knit with eyelash yarn again.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the Quilt Gets Tied

I’ve had some extra time on my hand this week, which I’ve used to tie the quilt. It isn’t difficult to tie a quilt, but it does take up some space in my “sewing room/office/everything else room” so I didn’t want to start this phase until I was sure I could finish it. In about an hour, the quilt should be all tied up.

I have a fantastic Q-Snap quiltingframe that my mother-in-law bought me years ago. It is the perfect solution for a quilting frame in a small space.

I’ve decided to tie the quilt with some wool, because I think the wool fibres should grab each other and felt up so the ties will not easily slip out. (And because I love wool!)  I found a wonderful skein that comes in the perfect mix of greens and purples.

And one final photo… While Cici was greatly afraid when the quilt frame made its debut, she is highly in favour of snuggling up with the work in progress.

Next up, sewing on some binding strips.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Peril of Lace Knitting

As mentioned, I’ve been working on a lace cardigan lately. Lace comes with some challenges:
  • For true lace, the yarn is very fine (as in thin) which can be more difficult to work with than a substantial thick yarn
  • Lace patterns have lots of “yarn overs” and “knit X sts together” which can be hard to memorize, so the pattern must be constantly at hand
  • Checking the gauge isn’t as simple as just knitting up a swatch and getting out the ruler, since the lace must be properly blocked to determine its true measurements

As I started the cardigan I dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too small. So I pulled out a larger needle and dutifully knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it. It was too big. So I pulled out an in between sized needle and knit a swatch and blocked it and measured it and it was just right. It took a few days to get through all those blocking stages, but in the end I was happy with the result.

Here are the three swatches. I do think the middle one is just right.

Now that I’ve noted the challenges, let’s get to the peril:
  • The true peril of lace knitting is that when you drop a stich, or make another mistake in knitting, it is nearly impossible to pick that stich back up, or rip back your knitting to a point where the mistake is easily recovered from.

I discovered this last night. I had knit half of the second sleeve when I noticed I was short one stich in the row I was on. I counted my stitches, counted again, and again, and again, and I was definitely short a stitch. I could see exactly where the stitch should be, but I couldn’t see how to get that one stitch back. I tried one way and it didn’t look right. I tried a second way and it didn’t look right. I puzzled and puzzled and then I gave up. I yanked out the needle and pulled out a solid week’s worth of knitting and the second sleeve was no more.  Grrrr... so frustrating.

There is a solution to this problem. It is called a lifeline. The theory is that if you put a thread through a row of stitches you know are correct, it will hold those stitches in place and be your lifeline so that when you have to rip out your knitting to correct a mistake, you only have to go back as far as your lifeline where you will be able to easily pick up the stitches. I know that lifelines are good, as you can see with the two white lifelines that I’ve put into the body of my sweater.

But did I use a lifeline in the second sleeve?  Nooooo, I got cocky. I knit the first sleeve perfectly, so why waste time putting in a lifeline when I could easily knit the second sleeve just as perfectly. (Not)

Oh well, I’ve got many knitting hours ahead and the sweater will get done. (But not this weekend.)

I’ve been so frustrated with the lace sleeve debacle that I turned my thoughts to other random ideas and I’ve stepped over to the dark side and started this new project.

I’m not prepared to tell you what this is yet, but it starts off with some eyelash yarn (shudder!)