Sunday, January 27, 2013

Working away

An ice storm is beginning outside--it sounds like sleet right now. I'm snug inside, working on a variety of projects. I'm going to make pizza for dinner tonight and made sure early that we had everything needed so we don't have go out out into the storm.
I began a new project today. A few years ago I made hubby a lap afghan from one of those kits from Jo-Ann's--two precut pieces of fleece that you were to slit the edges and tie them together. I've made them for charity and they're nice blankets with ruffly edges, but Hubby's not a fringe fan, so I stitched his two pieces together with a blanket stitch. He loves it. But...

It's not long enough to use on the bed, which he wanted to do. This first blanket was a really cool space ship pattern and I couldn't find anything like, or anything else appealing, it in the stores.  We're not sports fans or while he's a fan of some comics, not enough for a blanket.

This year, when holiday shopping, my sister spotted this bird print and I knew he'd love it. The backing is the soft aqua blue of seen in the sky, a solid. I got two and a half yards of each so it will be plenty long. I found a DMC Perle coton that works with the colors, blues and greys, so I got several skeins. This morning I laid both pieces of washed fleece out on the bed, aligned them, and trimmed the selvedges at the sides, rounded the corners, and pinned the edges together with safety pins. I'm ready to begin stitching. 

None too soon--his birthday is next weekend. There's no way I could keep this project a secret so he's known about it from the beginning and is looking forward to his new blanket. For me, it's a great project for cold winter nights.

The smaller blankets I made have no stitching in the middle to hold the layers together.  This is large enough that I'm thinking about adding some stitching to the middle, perhaps outline the birds. I'll decide while I'm working on the edging.
Last week on weeknights I alternated working on my gray and gold tie (2" wide by 5' or so long), the zig-zag crochet scarf and the London quilt. With the quilt, I alternated adding patches to the piece and covering paper hexagons with fabric. I think its progress is more visible than the others.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back to Stitching

I am quite happily back stitching these days. The recent long weekend helped.
I've made good progress on the cross stitch scene. It's nice to have added a bit of color.
I set the London quilt aside a while ago--I'd overdone it and made my hands miserable. It's really hard because the project is like popcorn--I can't stop. I did a lot this weekend. First I covered more paper hexagons but then I realized I had a pile of them and I needed to get to adding them onto the quilt.  I added half-hexagons all along the top edge and just worked along expanding the river and the rest of the top half.

After taking this photo, I decided I needed to expand it two rows more on the left, to accommodate where the river turns south. The river is pieced with small hexagons and goes up to the edge of the design right now. I decided that I want mostly larger hexagons along the edges. So I did that on Monday. (you can see the lines drawn on my paper cartoon--that's the Thames. really)

Now I'm back to covering more hexagons. I need a lot more small ones. And I've been adding in some new fabrics and I need to cover more papers with them. 

As I go, I'm taking out my basting and removing the papers from patches that are completely surrounded (stabilized).  This combination of making and unmaking is really pleasing to me for some reason.  As I'm going along, I 'm trying to think of ideas for the quilting and embellishment. And the side edges. I want to add long borders on each side with straight edges. Right now I'm thinking of pages from a London newspaper (b&w type) fused to muslin.... 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Long weekend

This Monday was a holiday for us, Martin Luther King Day. It was nice to have a three-day weekend, especially since it's gotten quite cold. I stayed in and made soup stock.

On Saturday we drove out to Valparaiso (before the cold wave). At the University we stopped in at Brauer Museum of Art. They had a number of interesting exhibits, including one on Japanese prints.  If you're into reading the text on the cards next to the art, it was quite informative and interesting.  It featured ghosts and mystical creatures.
Brauer also had an exhibit of a Lord of the Rings collection that included memorabilia, posters, and special editions.  There was an exhibit of a woman working with Mexican copper workers as part of her Ph.D. in art project. It included copper vessels (by the masters she works with and herself) and drawings, paintings and sketches.  A painter with luminous canvases. A gallery with comparative art--similar subjects with a realistic and an abstracted image, and I forget what was in the last galleries--I think pieces from their collection.  Pretty cool, all in all.

While in town, we stopped in at Sheep's Clothing. I had gotten some yarn there last fall and begun a two-yarn, two-row zig-zag pattern scarf, only to lose the pattern. They are very helpful and figured out which pattern it was and gave me a new copy of the pattern. I realized the project had been stuck because I was unhappy with the way it was coming out, so I ripped out what I had done and began over with a smaller hook.
I like the pattern much better with the smaller hook.

While I was there I got two balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino to try out a stitch I saw in a scarf pattern on Purl Bee Blog. I tried it using size 4 needles (bottom) and size 3 (top). I like the smaller needles better and that will be the swatch I use to plan my project, a man's tie. Now I need to research ties to see what' currently in fashion (I haven't a clue!).
The top is the right side, the bottom the wrong. I rather like the wrong side.
And since I'm on the subject of knitting... Here's the pink "doctor's office project" scarf at its current length. I recently mentioned that I should show it again since it's been quite a while. I haven't measured it--it's a "as long as the yarn lasts" project.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another finish

I finished the Surprise Baby Jacket (Elizabeth Zimmerman) in time to give to the mother-to-be before she began maternity leave. I had my doubts along the way and they continued up until I blocked it and stitched on the buttons. I always do with this pattern and in the end I always love it.

Otherwise, my stitching has been pretty lackluster.  I'm plugging along on my cross stitch, trying to work at least one length of thread an evening (and managing about half the time) and working on the endless cable scarf (mostly a doctor's office project).  The picture in the link is a skein and a half of yarn ago, so I should probably take a new one.  I realized scrolling back through the posts to find the links that I have a nearly completed lace washcloth that I've set aside somewhere. I should get it out this weekend and perhaps finish it.  A goal!  (I hope I can find it.)

 This is a holiday weekend for us.  Still no snow in Chicago but it's supposed to get chilly this weekend.  Stay warm!

Friday, January 11, 2013

First finish for 2013!

I can't believe I have a project done already!
It's another project that was started quite a long time ago.  I'd been working along, a bit at a time, on this for the last couple of months, stitching leaves (endless leaves) and gave it a push over the weekend and finished it.
It all began with the beads, a gift from SJ Designs. I had an idea for a design to use as a model for marketing the beads. Ummm, this was like 20 years ago, I'd say. I picked the colors of perle cotton and then began struggling. I had a great idea, but once I tried putting it onto canvas, well, I didn't have the skill.  It sat for a long time.

Last summer I pulled it out and charted the needlepoint leaves and petals. I'd been trying to stitch a circle of leaves and petals just by stitching on the canvas with little planning. Boy, that did not work at all. I ripped more than I stitched. In the end I started over from scratch.

This is basically the original idea I had so long ago. Beyond the basic needlepoint, I had the idea for the detached leaves, but didn't know how to do them.  I can say I know how now, after making all of these leaves. There are a couple of rows to Turkey work between the petals and the center. I was going to cut it for fuzz, but I like the loops so I'm leaving it.

I also learned how to stitch the beads onto the center.  I strung them on a thread and couched them. My original plan had been to stitch them individually, and I tried it, but it was hard to keep a nice spiral. I was going to fill in the center with dark French knots but, again, decided I like it as is.  

It's on 18 count canvas and is about 4" to 5" across.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dr. Who Tea Cozy

This is a project I had loads of fun doing last year. It's a reversible tea cozy with designs from Dr. Who. I adapted the design from Lorraine Condatta's Exterminate Hat that is available as a free pattern on Ravelry. I finished it in October or so, but didn't want to show it until now because it was a Christmas gift.  It's been received, so I can share it now.  (I've put up more details in my Ravelry projects; my name there is Marjel3)

I learned a lot doing this project. I began it with double knit ribbing. I learned mostly from the blog WIP Insanity. I look forward to doing more double knitting projects. I love the smooth edge it gave at the bottom and that all the ends from all of the colorwork are hidden inside--no need to weave them all in!  I hadn't done color work from a chart in many years--that was fun, too. 

I couldn't figure out how to do the two separate designs in double knitting so I separated the inside and outside and knit them up separately to the top green rows, then I double knit again for a bit to link it all together, and then separated it again to do the top decreases.  I consulted at the local yarn shop (Sheep's Clothing in Valparaiso, where I bought the yarn) and they agreed that I should do that separately.  The hanging loop is a long i-cord loop, "stitched" through the cozy, knotted on each side and the ends stitched together.

I used Cascade 220 superwash so it's machine washable and dryable.  It will keep the teapot quite warm, I'm sure. 

Friday, January 4, 2013


We had a quiet New Year's celebration. We watched on old old TV version of Sherlock Holmes that ended at two minutes to midnight and then watched fireworks on TV until the neighborhood quieted and we could head to bed. It was nice.

I like to make the time around New Year's day a microcosm of how I'd like to spend my time during the coming year. So the new year rolled in as I was working on this...
A friend sent me a kit of the view of a canal in Hungerford, England. (I've been there and seen it.) There's a bridge toward the left and buildings above it and on the right. There'll be a boat on the canal when it's done.

Over the long weekend we visited an art gallery, drove along the shore of Lake Michigan, visited the therapist to help improve my vertigo, took walks in the cold, cooked more than usual, did some chores, did a bit of clearing out. I brought a bin of yarn to our family Christmas for people to take...
It was fun to watch their choices. After a couple of other outings, the fibers are all on to new homes.
I'd put this quilt away for a long while (last mentioned here--longer ago than I'd realized). I finally realized it was because I wanted to incorporate some new fabrics from a couple of friends who'd passed away and I needed some time before I could work with them. I began basting more hexagons on New Year's day using the new fabrics.
And all along I've been knitting on the baby sweater, which is beginning to look like a sweater now. 

Word for 2013
For some years now, instead of resolutions I've been choosing a word to focus on.

This year I picked this:
To remind me that all the little things I tend to want to ignore or avoid really do matter.

But, then, last week a radio announcer read a poem called the Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith, and it really struck a chord with me (and apparently many others--I believe it went around a few years ago but I'd missed it). So I've added a second word this year, Anyway (which will make sense if you read the poem--it's on the linked website.
(I may keep it around as my word for next year. I still feel that "It Matters" is right for me this year.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Christmas

But, first, Happy New Year! everyone.  I hope your's will be the best.

We celebrated our family holiday on the 29th. Everyone was able to come and it was wonderful. My sister is the best for putting up with us every year.
Presents under the tree.
The table was all ready for the crowd.
There was much flinging of wrapping paper.
Some napping.
A grand time was had by all!