Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Is Winding Down...

Well, I never seem to have gotten the big block of quilting time I was expecting and hoping for.  I have gotten some knitting done, and I may yet get a bit of quilting done before the end of the year.  It all depends on how much life decides to cooperate, or not.

Here are the socks I've finished recently and haven't yet shared here:

I Love Watermelon






I have the next few days pretty much free, so I'm planning to spend it getting "lost" in some sewing.  And maybe some knitting as well. 

I hope that 2012 winds down in a good way for you, and that 2013 will bring you health, happiness, and lots of good things -- and the grace to appreciate them all.

Thanks for stopping by to play.  Come back again soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let the Crazy Times Begin

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was at our Toastmasters Fall District Conference.  We were at Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center, in Grafton, Illinois.  As always, it was great to see some of the Toastmasters from around the District, that I don't see except at District events.  I always learn something, and this time was no exception.  And I always have fun, too, and this conference was definitely fun, as well.

I always think of the Holiday Season as beginning with the Fall Conference, because it's almost always the weekend before Thanksgiving.  So it really does lead right into the craziest six weeks of the year.  Well, for most people it's a crazy time of year, anyhow.  For me, it's usually a time I can slow down a bit, and get some quilting stuff done.  I absolutely don't leave home at all on Black Friday.  I have get-togethers with a few groups during December, but I don't have nearly as much craziness as many folks I know do.  So, while everyone else is hustling and bustling, I can nest and quilt.  I always get in the mood to work on quilting at this time of year, too.  I think it may go back to my days in school, when I did a lot of crafting and sewing during Christmas break, that I didn't necessarily have time for during the school year.

For the rest of this year, I'm going to try to get a number of my completed quilt tops layered up, quilted, and ready to be bound.  Then in the early part of the new year, I'll have a binding marathon, and all of a sudden, I'll have a whole bunch of newly-finished quilts ;-)

For today,  I can show you a pair of socks I finished recently.  This was a pair I test-knitted for a designer who is new to me.  I stumbled upon her Ravelry group, and happened to be on the site right after she'd posted a request for test knitters, and was able to be the first volunteer.  They may look like they're from two different yarns, but they're not.  I was working from both ends of the skein, and apparently, the hand-dyed yarn was not dyed consistently throughout.  I really like the effect of slightly mismatched socks, though I know there are folks out there who would be bothered by it.  Anyhow, here they are:

Take a Peek

Last week, I finished up this cowl, and blocked it over the weekend:

It's not really crooked or lopsided, I was just apparently standing at a funny angle -- when I fold it in half again, the top edges and the bottom edges are nicely in line all the way along.

I also finally got around to blocking several other things that have been waiting a while for that.  First, here's my Color Affection shawl:

Color Affection
 This is supposed to be striped in three colors, but unfortunately, the colors in my yarns were closer to each other than I thought they'd be, so I lost quite a bit of the stripe effect.  Here are the yarns I used for this:

Yarn for Color Affection
Looking at this, it seems obvious that these yarns would be somewhat "blendy," but in person I really thought they'd be more distinct from each other.  No matter, I still like this and will wear it.

Then a fun little cowl I made during a knit-along (KAL) with the designer's group on Ravelry:


Then two basic long cowls/infinity scarves, one for DH:


and one for me:


The color is horrible on those last two pictures.  Here's the yarn that I used for DH's cowl:

Yarn for Blue Cowl

and here's the yarn I used for mine:

Yarn for Green Cowl

I'm glad to have gotten all this blocking done, and to be able to use these items now. 

I've got a couple other pairs of socks I'm making good progress on, so I hope to show those here very soon.  And maybe some more quilty pictures, before too long.  For now, I'm off to do some sewing!

Thanks for stopping by to play!  Come back again soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Bit More Knitting

Most of what I knit is socks.  You've seen what I've gotten finished recently.  I have another 8 pairs that I'm actually working on at the moment, as well as a number of pairs that I've started that are in hibernation for one reason or another.  In my last post, you saw a hat I knitted for my DH.  Using the same pattern, I also made myself a hat.  In fact, I finished mine first, then made DH's.

This yarn is in a colorway called "Mallard," so (because I like to think I'm clever sometimes) I called the project "Excuse me, is that a duck on your head?"  It turns out, that's a quote from one of the DiscWorld books, so I'm informed.  I hadn't even heard of the books, so the reference wasn't intentional.  The yarn is 80% Merino wool, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere, and it feels wonderful.  It hasn't really been cold enough for me to wear it yet (though DH has worn his, but he's out in the early morning hours, and I haven't been), but I really like it.  Here it is on DH's head, so I could take the picture:

Sockhead with ribbing folded back

I have some other things that I've knitted that I still need to take pictures of -- a shawl and three cowls.  But they need to be blocked first, and I haven't gotten that done yet.  I'm hoping to do it over the holiday weekend, and post pictures very soon of the finished and blocked items.

Thanks for stopping by to play!  Come back again soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rest Easy, Sweet Spirit

My very dear friend Sue died somewhat unexpectedly in early September.  She lived in Florida, and in the last couple of years I hadn't seen her much.  We did talk on the phone, but it had gotten more infrequent because I was busy and distracted, and she had been busy helping her mother quite a bit, until she finally put her foot down and told her mother she could not continue to be at her house all day, every day, that she just didn't have the strength or stamina for it.  Sue was quite a bit older than me, only 15 months younger than my mother.  We met in the early 1990s when we both worked at the same hospital on night shift.  She was a nurse in the cardiac Critical Care unit, and I worked in the laboratory as a Medical Technologist.  We didn't have a phlebotomist at night, so I had to go to the floors and collect blood samples myself.  That was how we first met, and we eventually got talking, and hit it off.  I don't know if I've ever had a best friend as an adult, but if I have, Sue was it.  Even though we had been in contact less frequently recently, we could always just pick up right where we left off, and it was always comfortable.  She was the one person I could always be completely myself with, and know that it was okay.  And she could do the same with me.

About a week before Sue died, I had started knitting this hat for my DH.  It's in a lovely bright turquoise.


Sue loved cool colors, and was especially fond of turquoise, teal-y greens, and purples.  So after I learned of Sue's death, I renamed my project of this hat "Sue would have loved this color."  Does that seem a bit macabre?  Well, she was friends with my DH too, though more my friend -- still, he feels her loss also.  He didn't mind me naming it that, so I did.  As I worked on the hat, after I knew of her death, I was thinking a lot about her and all she'd meant to me.  So it was a healing project, to some extent.  So many times in the last few weeks, there have been things I've wanted to tell Sue, and I'll catch myself saying "oh, I've gotta call and tell her..."  And then I remember.  And I miss her all the more.

~~~Susan Jane Becker, 9 January 1946 - 8 September 2012.  Rest Easy, Sweet Spirit.  You are loved and missed.~~~

Thanks for letting me share a little (mostly "non-crafty") piece of life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Knitting Stuff

I've finally got some space where I can leave my sewing stuff out, and have room to work on it.  But, I'm always working on knitting stuff in the background.  It's more portable, I can do it when I want to watch television or a movie, and it's very meditative in a way that sewing on a machine isn't.

I've previously shown you the first six pairs of socks I made for the 26 Pair Plunge, which runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.  I'm ahead of schedule a bit, as I just finished Pair #13 last Thursday.  Here are pairs 7-13:

Gingered Peaches done


Stealth Monsters

Changing into Vanilla

Colorful Socks for Marty
This pair is for my DH, the only pair in this Plunge so far that is.

Can You Really Taste Colors

I Love Watermelon

Thanks for coming by to play!  Come back again soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Other Retreat Sewing

I've actually remembered what I was working on at my July retreat!

First, I finished (though I haven't yet trimmed the edges) my Autumn Bargello top:

I still need to find border(s) for it, and add them.  I started this quilt in roughly 2001 or 2002, in a class I took with a bunch of ladies I sewed with regularly at the time, at A Piece in Time, in Akron, Ohio.  At the time, I basically got the strip sets made, did a bit of cross-cutting, and set it aside for the next "ooooh, shiny!" project.  A lot of my UFOs date from those two years, when I took a lot of classes and belonged to both Thimbleberries Club and Quilt Sitters' Circle at that shop (which was only a couple of miles from where we lived at the time), and had projects piling up at an alarming rate.  Of course, I also have a fair number of UFOs that date back earlier than that.  2013 is going to be my year of making serious headway on all those lingering UFOs!

The next thing I did was to change gears.  I had another Bargello-in-progress with me, that I'd started in the late 1990s some time, at a shop called Hoops 'n Hollers in North Olmsted, Ohio.  The shop no longer exists, but in the 1990s I took a number of classes there, and belonged to Quilt Sitters' Circle, and collected a fair number of UFOs along the way.  So, I'd started this Bargello first, before the Autumn Bargello I'd just finished at retreat, above.  I only had a few of the strip sets made, and the rest were in pairs or a few in four-strip units.  I made the rest of my stripsets as Leaders/Enders while I was piecing the Autumn Bargello.  But then I decided that I did not want to sew another Bargello top right then, so that's where the "changing gears" comes in.  I decided, instead, to make these stripsets into a Trip Around the World quilt.  I got the four quadrants made, and made the center strips that tie it all together and make it work, but my seam allowance was apparently off on the center strips, as they were shorter than my quadrants.  So I still need to remake those strips, and finish putting the top together.  Here's a picture of one of the quadrants:
Top Left Quarter of TATW
This is the top left, the way it's oriented.  Or, top right, as you're looking at it.  That pinkish square on the bottom left as you look at it will be near the center of the quilt.  Each quadrant is rotated 90 degrees, and there's a strip through the middle in each direction that continues the movement of the fabrics, and effectively makes the "points" where the fabrics change direction, from moving diagonally out to diagonally in.  I hope to get the top together soon, and maybe all that gibberish will make more sense then ;-)

That retreat, I also got borders added to three quilt tops.  The first is a Jelly Roll 1600 quilt, which is bigger than they usually are because I used a Noodle, which is something they used to sell at Hancock Fabrics, which had more than 40 strips in it, and I used them all.

The second top I added borders to was this one, which is a pattern called "Cake Walk," by Sandy Gervais:
I used another Noodle from Hancocks for the blocks in that one, and I used the leftovers for another "Jelly Roll 1600," which is of course smaller than they usually are.  In any event, it's the third quilt top I added borders to at the May retreat:

That was pretty good for one retreat, I think!

Thanks for stopping by to play!  Come back again soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Rest of the Garden Patch Cats (so far!)

Sue sent me kits for blocks 1-6 and 8 in July, in time for me to take them on my retreat.  Later, some time in August, she sent me kits for block 7 and blocks 9-23.  I got all the tracing and fusing done at my September retreat, and started the zigzag stitching around them.  I was "batching" colors, so I didn't have to change threads so often.  So instead of stitching all of one block and then moving on to the next, I did all the (for example) dark green on any blocks that needed it, then moved on to all the (again, as an example) dark brown, and so on.  I left the black for last, since it was just the pupil in each kitty's eye.  So when I got to the black, I knew I was on the home stretch!  I left retreat with one block all stitched except for the black, and bits of a number of the other blocks stitched.  Then I kept trying to find the time and space to work on them, but it wasn't working out too well.  Finally, last weekend I got them finished, and sent off to Sue.  She let me know that they've arrived, and that she thinks they're pretty cute.  I'm glad she's happy with them.  I've had fun working on them, and look forward to doing the others that will be coming out.  Enough of that, here are the pictures of the rest of the blocks I did!

Block Seven is Caulipuss:

Block Nine is Gourdo Gato:

Block Ten is Eggplant Purr-mesan (I love these block names!):

Block Eleven is Yammy Cat:

Block Twelve is Mushkit:

Block Thirteen is Broc-Kitty:

Block Fourteen is Catus Romanus:
I think this might be my favorite block so far -- it's one of my favorites, for sure!

Block Fifteen is Pickle Puss:
I'm not so crazy about this block, but maybe that's just me...

Block Sixteen is Pepper Puss:
This background is probably a bit too dark and busy, but I can work with it.  If I make the block again, I'll put it on a somewhat lighter fabric, though.

Block Seventeen is Purr-simmon:

Block Eighteen is Brussels Cat:

Block Nineteen is Banana Cat:
The background for this block may be a little too light, but I think I can make it work in a finished project.

Block Twenty is Cobby Cat:

Block Twenty-One is Concord Kitties:
Purple is so hard to photograph accurately!  The background here is a sage green, IRL.

Block Twenty Two in Le Arti-Chat:

Block Twenty Three, and the last one I've done, is Tater Puss:

There's at least one more pattern that's been released, and there are supposed to be more to come, so I'll share the rest as I do them ;-)

Thanks for coming by to play!  Come back again soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Garden Patch Cats Blocks

So, yesterday I told you the story about how I came to be making the Garden Patch Cats blocks.  Today, I'll share the blocks with you.  Just know that, when one or more of them seems to be missing an eye, it's going to get stitched in, in embroidery.  That particular eye is closed -- some of the kitties have both eyes closed, and some have one eye closed and one open, and most of them have both eyes open.

It's been interesting doing this project with Sue, because her fabric choices are just slightly different than the kinds of fabrics I have in my stash.  It's been fun to work with someone else's choices, and with fabrics that I don't already own.  Okay, so I'll try to put these here in order:

First up is Avocato:
The color is really washed out in this picture!  When I put it into a finished item, I'll try to get a better picture of it, truer to the real colors.

Second block is Boscat:
In this picture the color is slightly off, but it's not as bad as the first one.  Sorry!

The third block is Kitt'ney Bean:

The fourth block is Walla Walla Kitty:
This block is just a little bit brighter and richer in color IRL.

The fifth pattern is Pumpkat:
The oranges seem to have completely messed with the color of the block background, which as I recall was a mottled mossy green.

The sixth pattern is Stalker:

The eighth pattern, but the next one I did, is Podcats:
These guys are quite washed out, too.  The outer pod is really a light sage-y green.

Those were the seven blocks I had kits for at my July retreat, and I got them done while I was there.  I also made a small quilt top (about 33" square) that week, from a bunch of squares left from cutting a FQ project:

I think I worked on one or two other things that week, but I don't remember what, and I know that I didn't get anything else finished, nor any other quilt tops finished.  Tomorrow I'll show the blocks I worked on at the September retreat, and since.

Thanks for coming by to play.  Come back again soon!