Wednesday, July 13, 2016

not a lot of knitting

Knitting has not been at the forefront of my fiber life lately, but last weekend I did pick up a project that has been in the works since winter sometime.  

This pattern, Technicolor Scarf, and the yarn (sorry, I can't find the yarn label to tell you what it is, but the pattern recommends Liberty Wool by Classic Elite Yarns) were gifted to me.  By someone who also likes knitting, and knows that I do!  It's a fun present to open with pattern and yarn together.  It's made from 2 colors of yarn, in my project, one is lime green and the other is that purplish-green-blue mix that you see in the lower half of the picture.

The scarf is made with something called a Brioche stitch.  I've linked to a video about it.  Not sure where that name came from, but it has nothing to do with brioche bread.  Maybe because it leaves me hungry for more?  Each row I do makes me want to do the next one?!

Anyway, it's not a difficult pattern to do, just a rectangular scarf.  And the yarn looks and feels great, all soft and cushy.  The stitch pattern repeats over a set of 4 rows, and ends up making a nice reversible-looking scarf.  The stitches are basic:  knit, purl, yarn over and slip.  The yarn seems heavier than worsted weight but not as much as bulky.  I'm no pro at knitting, so some of these yarn variations in size and weight leave me wondering.

The only problem I have encountered with it is correcting mistakes.  Yes, I make mistakes!  Even though I always think I'm doing it right, I sometimes miss something and don't find it until the following row.  This project has 224 stitches in a row.  I have had to "unknit" more than once because unlike some other stitch patterns, this one is a bugger for me to repair as I go.  I get the yarn overs crisscrossed with slips and knits and purls, and it makes a mess.  Carefully removing 224 stitches takes some thought!
Here's an ugly tangled mistake that I thought looked OK on the reverse side.
Not so much.

Last weekend, I knit this while riding in the car to go to Nisswa to visit some friends at their lake home.  It's about 2 1/2 hours away.  On the straight parts I can easily knit without getting nauseous!  But it's not always the best positioning in the seat, a bit cramped, so it's easy to slip up on the pattern.  I now find myself at a mistake that I tried to fix, but it's not a good fix.  So there's some unknitting to do again before I can move on.  It probably didn't help that I also did some of this while we were playing 500 out on the deck at 9PM as it was getting dark!  I think that's where the mistake was made!

So I will have to set aside some time to focus on this in a few days.  Right now I am engrossed with a new quilt pattern that is on a deadline to be done soon, so knitting is on the way back burner!  Someday I will have a finished project to show you!

Monday, July 11, 2016

thread gone wild!

Here's something a little different for your Monday!

Black Books - Favorite Place from DaBrainkilla on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

book report

I am always reading and/or listening to a book whenever I have time.  Recorded books have been a big bonus, I can read while doing other things (like driving!)
I get most of my books through the library on Kindle or digital recordings on iPhone.  Sometimes I do read an actual paper book, too!

I just finished listening to this book--

I recommend it.  It's non-fiction.  If you have read anything by Jon Krakauer before, you know he does a lot of research and study of his subject.  This book involves a lot of police and judicial system elements, which can get kind of long and drawn out to listen to.  When I was impatient to get onto the next chapter, I would remind myself that if it felt prolonged to me over the course of some minutes, it must have felt interminable to the women going through the process.  It is not a happy story.  It really makes me think about a lot of things differently.  Read it and tell me what you think!

Monday, July 4, 2016

summer fun

What I've been doing this summer:

1.  Admiring the beauty of nature!
I only wish these gorgeous flowers could last longer!

2.  Quilting for a customer, a hand-embroidered quilt from a pattern by Crabapple Hill.  There are many beautiful designs from Meg on her website and available at Bear Patch.  
This one is called Vintage Tin.

I took this picture to show the little wireless speaker that I attach to my handlebars to listen to recorded books while I work.  It's called the Buckshot and is made by Outdoor Tech.  The holder is intended for use on bicycle handlebars, but it fits right on my machine handlebars, too!  I get most of my books through the Anoka County Library as digital downloads on my iPhone.  With this little speaker, I can still hear the recording and the sound of the machine at the same time.  I have to have an ear to the machine to pick up on the noises and sounds that alert me to a problem.  Headphones don't work as well for that.

3.  Visiting North Carolina to get some playtime with my little guys!

Happy Jack!

The best selfie I could get of the boys and Brita together.
We had something fun to do every day, and I learned all about the favorite books, videos, foods and anything else you can imagine in the life of a 2 and 4 year old!

4.  Starting a new quilt design for a new pattern.
This is for the Quilt MN fabric and shop hop starting 7/29.  So I need to keep pushing to get this done!  I have it all done in my head, but that doesn't really count!
I'm using a row quilt layout again, with the border print cut and place between rows of pieced blocks.

It's coming along, but there's still a lot of work to be done.  The top row of spool blocks is pretty straightforward, that's a block that's been made many times.  The row of chain blocks was something I pretty much had to invent to get the right size and shape that I wanted.  So that took awhile.  The bottom row of fish blocks was a block design that I found in my EQ program, but had to modify.  It was made with diamonds and Y-seams where the orange points are.  That type of construction is not easy, and I want this pattern to appeal to any quilter who looks at it.  So I re-drafted it to incorporate half-square triangles instead.

I have one more row of different blocks to make, then assemble the rows with borders, get it quilted, bound, photographed.  And write up the directions!  And get them printed and packaged, too.  And kits cut!  But hey, I've got 24 days to do it in!

What are you doing this summer!

Monday, June 13, 2016

again with the home improvement!

 Reupholstery is now on my list of unknown talents!  I tackled the 6 dining room chairs, and we are nearing the finish line!  I say "we" because I couldn't have done this without Bob's help.  The upholstery business takes some muscle!  These chairs and table were purchased in the early 90's and have been our every-day eating area ever since then.  The fabric was wearing very thin and started fraying on the edges.

This is the "before" picture.
I had done a couple very easy things before, like recovering a foot stool.  But this needed to be done as neatly as possible and look close to professional.  I did some reading and scanning through some videos to get started.   I picked out a fabric that I really liked, even though I have some reservations about the light color.  But I decided to give it a go and see how it turned out.

Bob removed 1 million staples holding on the fabric, piping and dust cover.  And they were tough to pull.  I know because I started out doing it, but it was really hard on my neck and shoulder.  The staples needed to be pried out with a pointed tool, then removed with a second tool.  Those staplers were very thorough!

I had planned to replace the foam cushion, but struggled to get it to shape around the edges smoothly.  At that point, I threw up my hands and abandoned the project for awhile to think about what to try next.  By this time, however, 4 of the 6 chairs were missing their seats!  So there was no going back!  Still, I procrastinated for awhile, toying with the idea of just giving in and paying someone to do it for me.  But at that point, Bob urged me on with promises of help. 

So, I ended up just using the old foam padding, since it already was shaped just right to fit.  While the seats were removed, I washed and scrubbed the nooks and crannies of the wood frames.  There was a bit of accumulated spilled milk, squished vegetables and who knows what else in those hidden spots!  
After we were satisfied with getting the fabric all stapled down, I went to work on making the piping (welting) to finish off the edges.  The picture below shows what that will look like when it's stapled in place.  I cut the fabric strips on the crossgrain of the fabric, so it could be aligned with the stripes in the front of the chair.  So I have a few (quite a few) more yards of piping to prepare and then see if I can staple it neatly in place.

We did make a couple of rookie mistakes, but this has been a "learn as you go" project.  
One lesson learned:
Although I was very conscious of measuring and centering that wide navy blue stripe in the center of each seat, I did make one big oops.  This stripe is an uneven stripe.  The color pattern is not mirror-imaged.  If you look at the "before" picture, that stripe is an even, mirror imaged stripe.  Well, one of the seat covers got flipped around and stapled on in the reverse of the other 5.  Big oops!  But our mutually agreed upon decision was to not remove and replace that seat cover.  We were tired!  That's going to be our Amish chair, bearing a mistake to remember us to be humble.  And either be more careful the next time or hire someone else to do it!

Meanwhile, we have had a good period for our growing plants outside!  Two quite different kinds of purple iris have been blooming.

And the garden seeds that we planted a week ago are sprouting up.  Along with the weeds!  We had 2 days of temps over 90, so that really gets things going.  The garden is in full sun, so that's very favorable for growing but also prime sunburning.  So I look for less sunny times for garden time!

Monday, June 6, 2016

mundane monday mending

I know mending isn't hip or cool.  But it's still practical, and sometimes necessary.  I'm lucky I have some of the know-how to look at a garment, or a pillow, or a curtain, or a pair of jeans, and feel sort of positive about what to do with it!  Some people hate the mending, but I think it's fun to turn that frown upside down, and salvage something!  I have to say, I think I got pretty good at mending jeans.  The kids gave me all the practice I needed, and I found out what worked and what didn't.

Sometimes, it's brand new stuff that needs some kind of alteration.  This example is a simple sleeveless white knit top that I found on the markdown rack at the Marshall's discount store.  I really liked the fit and shape of the shirt, but right away I noticed a problem with the armholes.  The little serged edge that is turned over to the inside would roll out and show.  Still in the dressing room, I thought to myself, "Self, can you tolerate having that rolled edge on your mind and still enjoy wearing this?"  The answer was NO!  After studying it awhile in the dressing room, I thought I would give it a go.  Plus, it was on clearance.

This picture shows the problem with the rolled edge.

This is the neckline edge, and it has a little row of topstitching along the edge which is just what the sleeve needed.  Why didn't they finish the job?!

So I finished the job with a little bit of careful stitching and matching thread.  And I used the #5  foot on my Bernina and it worked like a charm to keep the stitching straight and neat.

And now I can wear my new shirt without a second thought about those armhole edges rolling!

I think my can-do-mending attitude rubbed off on Dan.  He has one of my old machines, and can mend his own jeans, tailor his shirts to fit, and a few other things.  I bet Brita would mend, too, if those little boys ever gave her a moment to do it!  On my next visit, I'll see if there's anything I can mend for her if I can borrow a machine!