Saturday, April 14, 2018

Handmade Christmas 2017

Wow, this post is late!  I didn't plan to make very many Christmas gifts, but somehow I ended up making a bunch anyway.  This quilt was for my Grandma, and it was a team effort with my mom.  We had given Grandma the fabric and pattern for Christmas two or three years ago, but we came to the conclusion that she was never going to sew it, so we decided to do it for her.  It was relatively quick (two weekends), and fun to do together!  It came out great, and Grandma loves it.
I've done Christmas sweaters for my niece and nephew every year so far (although last year I made a flannel shirt for my nephew instead of a sweater), and I kind of thought last year was going to be the last year - they're getting big, and the sweaters are getting to be more of a production.  But then I hit on the idea of a ballet wrap sweater for my dance-obsessed niece, and I couldn't not do one more year.
I used free patterns and used worsted weight superwash wool from Valley Yarns (the Webs house brand).  They were fun to knit, and apparently were a hit with the kids.

Earlier in the Fall, I knit a pair of socks for Robert for Christmas.  He loves them, but has dubbed them "the betrayal socks," because I knit them right in front of him without telling him they were for him.  He assumed they were for me, and was surprised that I was knitting myself socks in a blue tweedy yarn.  He tells me that he resisted the urge to ask if he could have them - he did it so well that I hesitated a bit to wrap them up for Christmas, because I wasn't sure if he liked them!
And lastly, I made a few Christmas-y kitchen things for us.  I took two fat quarters of Christmas-y fabric I bought for this purpose in Fall 2016 and finally made a set of four holiday napkins for our dining table.  I also knitted three Christmas dishcloths.  One of them made its way into my mom's stocking, and we kept the other two for ourselves.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spinning Lately

Last June, my mom and I took a spinning class at our state's sheep and wool festival.  The topic was color in hand-dyed rovings/tops, and we learned three ways to manage overwhelming or clashing color in hand-dyed braids.  The first (on the left in the photo above) is involves tearing the braid into small pieces to create a gradient.  The second is stained-glass - spinning the colored singles together with a solid neutral singles.  The third was fractal-spinning.  Then, I had a fair amount of leftover colored singles from the stained-glass sample, so I chain-plied that to get the fourth skein in the picture.  My stained glass and chain-plied samples have too much plying twist, so at some point before I use them I'll have to run them back through the wheel to remove some of it. 
This enormous skein is spun from Hello Yarn roving that I brought home from Yarn School in October 2012.  It took me over a year to spin!  I don't remember what my final yardage was, but I'm pretty sure it's over 800 yards, and it's laceweight.  My plan is to knit it into a large square shawl, maybe something like this, or this, or this.  I'll use it to wrap around my head in winter instead of wearing a hat.
Then, I spun up two alpaca skeins to go together.  The white one is un-dyed alpaca that I bought on vacation in Vermont several years ago, and the purple is a sparkly alpaca-merino blend that was given to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  They're fingering weight, and I've forgotten the yardage on them, but I'm hoping to knit something with colorwork.  I think the purple skein has a bit too much plying twist, so I'll need to remove some of that before I can use it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Handspun Neck-warmer

This Fall, I decided I needed a scarf/neckwarmer to go with my purple down jacket.  I wanted something relatively small, and I decided to use some of my handspun.  I decided to use this yarn, which I spun from a batt I made at Yarn School back in October 2012 and apparently never blogged about.    
I turned it into this, which is loosely based on the Red Rasta Cowl, which I found browsing Ravelry for neckwear designed for minimal quantities of super-bulky yarn.  I wanted it to be snug and not mess up my hair, so I knitted it flat.  I used all but about six inches of the yarn.  It closes with three non-matching silver-colored buttons out of my button jar.  The yarn is thick enough that I didn't need buttonholes - I just push the buttons through the knitted fabric wherever seems right.
Here it is under the jacket.  It's very cosy and does a good job keeping the wind out of my neck!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fixing my socks

In the six years I lived in Texas, I knit a lot of socks and almost never wore them.  When we moved to the Midwest a year and a half ago, I had about 20 pairs of handknit socks, and each of them had only been worn a few times.  Since then, they've all been worn a lot - and I have new opinions about them.  I'm finding that I like my socks to fit with some negative ease, and to be knit at a tight gauge.  I like them to have some structure, so they don't twist around or slide down in my shoes (this problem is worse with boots, which I now own two pairs of (previously, I owned zero)).  In general, I prefer a traditional, top-down heel-flap heel to almost all of the toe-up/short-row heels I've tried. 

With this new knowledge, this Fall I fixed some of the socks in my drawer, to make them more wearable:
This pair, my Deflect socks, were just too long in the foot.  I had knit them long because the cable pattern has a very long repeat, and I convinced myself that it would be okay, but once I started wearing them often they were not okay.  I had at least an inch of extra length beyond my big toe.  So I ripped out the toe half of the feet and re-knit them significantly shorter.  Now I enjoy wearing them!
The green pair (which I apparently made before I started the blog) fit well, and I enjoyed wearing them, but I made them in a very soft yarn.  I wish I had knit them at a tighter gauge - I think they would have worn better.  As it was, wearing them often for a year, I wore a hole under the ball of the foot of one sock.  Luckily, I still had the extra yarn, so I was able to repair the hole with a knit-in-place patch, following this tutorial.   I was somewhat surprised to see how much these socks have faded from wear - the color difference is pretty clear in the photo!  I was mildly concerned that I would be able to feel the patch when I wore the repaired sock, but it hasn't bothered me at all.  I'm glad that I can wear one of my favorite pairs of socks again.
The last pair are my Skew socks, which I knitted while I was on the job market in Winter and Spring 2016.  They were too big, especially in terms of length in the foot.  Unfortunately, because of the unusual toe-up way these socks are constructed, I couldn't just re-knit the toes, like I did on the red pair.  Instead, I frogged the whole pair and re-knit them with the same yarn, but on smaller needles.  It was a little bit time-consuming, but totally worth it.  I love the way these socks fit!  They have a right and left foot, so they fit snugly in the toes across both feet, and the way the heels are constructed, they don't shift around in my boots at all.  They are a little firm to get on and off, but once on they're really comfortable.  This is the only construction I've used so far that I actually prefer to top-down heel-flaps.  I will definitely be making more of these - maybe I'll try to embellish them with some cables of lace, since the pattern is pretty plain.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Deep in the Forest Shawl

I started this shawl in May 2016, right around the time I graduated, and I finished it sometime during the 2016-2017 academic year - I was pretty behind on blocking it (sometime this fall), and I'm even further behind on blogging it. 
The pattern is the Lost in the Forest shawl.  I enjoyed knitting it, especially once I got to the leaf lace pattern (the inner border).  The first long lace section wasn't very interesting.  I used some of the navy blue laceweight that I used for another shawl in 2015, and I still have enough left for another small shawl.  This shawl is joining the first navy one in the future gift pile.

Pattern:  Lost in the Forest shawl by Cath Ward
Size: one size
Yarn: Lanna Gatto Harmony 2/30 in Captain Navy, 40g of a 100g skein (29g remaining)
Needles: US3 (3.25mm)
Started/Completed: May 2016/sometime in 2017
Modifications: none

Friday, November 24, 2017

Swan Lake dress

My niece turned four in September, and I made her a Swan Lake dress.  She is really into dance and ballet right now.  It's a flutter sleeve Geranium in size 4T (if I remember correctly), with some length and width adjustments to the skirt in order to take full advantage of the border print fabric. 

I used some digitally printed fabric from Hawthorne Threads, and to be honest I didn't love it.  It was pretty stiff, and the ink was very dense on the surface of the fabric.  I don't think I would use this fabric for quilting, and it would definitely not be appropriate for any application that needs to drape.  But the prints were adorable.  I hope it will hold up okay with frequent washing. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sheepie Shirt!

Last spring I found this adorable sheep-print quilting cotton at my local quilt shop and bought a yard with no plan.  I ended up ordering a yard of solid navy blue Robert Kaufman Cambridge Cotton Lawn to go with it and made a heavily modified version of McCall's 7285, which I made without modifications last spring/early summer.

This time, I shortened the sleeves significantly and made extensive changes to the back:
I split the back pattern piece horizontally about halfway down the armscye, and cut 2 of the yoke piece on the fold, so I could do a double-layer yoke construction with all of the yoke seam allowances enclosed.  I cut the main back piece on the fold, too, and but put the center back line about 2" away from the fold, adding several inches of space in the back.  I added some notches on the yoke and main back piece, so I could keep track of where I wanted the gathers to bunch in the center.  Then, because I no longer had a button in the back, I finished the neckline with a narrow bias facing.  I cut a 10' square and turned it into continuous bias tape using instructions from an old quilt book, and then applied the bias facing using this Craftsy tutorial.

In general, I'm much happier with this version than I am with the first.  The sleeves are more comfortable at the shorter length, and I can move more easily (although I still think the fit in the upper back could be better, as evidenced by the drag lines toward my armpits in the photo of the back of the shirt).  Most importantly, though, it doesn't have a button at the back neck!  The neckline is wide enough to go over my head comfortably, and I've found that the button on the first version catches in my braid in a terrible way, so I can't wear that shirt on days when I want to braid my hair. 

I've already started making a third version of this shirt, in a lovely floral Liberty lawn.  It's a long-sleeved version, with pintucks down the front.  The only fit change I'm attempting from this one to that one is to try to eliminate a little bit of gaping at the front neckline.  I'm excited to see how it fits when it's done!