Thursday, December 21, 2006

The sweetest words

A girl could her from her squeeze:
"Will you teach me how to knit (omg, is he really asking me to teach him to knit, that is so awesome, I never thought he would ask!!) a pair of socks (what??? Oh no. Not socks, way to complicated, lets see if I can divert)
"That's great, but how about we start you on a scarf first?"
"No, I want to make a pair of socks for you"
Aaahhhh. So sweet. How can I squash his ambitions now? And why not socks, he's good at figuring stuff out quickly. So what will bf find under the ficus on Christmas Eve? His very own yarn! I haven't quite figured out what to pick, though trust me, it'll be aran weight or bigger. Any suggestions?
I've been busy with knitting. Bf's Christmas socks are finished and I started his birthday pair. The argyle vest is still waiting for its collar and armbands. After having breezed through the pattern, I'm experiencing a strange stiffling fear about these last few things that need to be done. Here's a picture how the vest looked a few weeks ago.
Lovely Blue Sky Alpaca melange, you make me swoon! And then more swooning over this.
I already starting swatching for this lovely coat, with Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky, but I'm having a hard time getting the regular k1p1 ribbing to look neat and even. I've tried to k1tbl, p1 on one row and p1tbl,k1 on the next, and that gets me better results. Are there any other tricks I could try?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Buttercup, at last.

I blame winter time. Plus bf has got all kinds of funny shifts at work, so it's hard to get some pictures taken. I had also run into serious finishing issues, but more on that later.
With buttons closed:
Buttons open:
Pattern: Buttercup by Kim Hargreaves, available from her website as a kit.
Yarn: 5 balls of Rowan Cotton 4ply in Ripple, knit with US 2 and US 1 needles.
Mods: Plenty.
This knit was an exercise in emotional detachement. So much went wrong, I won't bore you with the details, but I'll share a few things. Cotton lace patterns are stretchy! I'm glad I realized that early on, frogged, and cast on for the small size. The explanations for how to keep the lace pattern intact while doing armhole decreases are non-existent. I tried many times and resorted to sending Kim an email. Her mom replied the very next day (nice) with an explanation that was about 75% helpful. Once I got the gist of it, I was able to figure out the rest on my own. If you're making this and are having problems with the decreases, send me an email and I'll be happy to forward you my version. Trying to seam this was a nightmare. If I had listened to my inner knitter, I would have used two edge stitches before starting the lace pattern, instead of one. The seams looked terrible with either matress or backstitch because the lace pattern would never line up. I ended up using my sewing machine and the seams came out perfect. I did frog the sleeves and reknit them in the round (but they're tiny so it took me only an evening). Instead of knitting a separate tie, I picked up stitches on the bottom, knit a few rows garter stitch, then crocheted little loops for the buttons. Now it looks good whether I wear it open or closed with no funny ties dangling around. I'm happy with it, but I don't think I'll order another kit any time soon. Her designs are lovely, but it was a lot of money for a little shrug that could have been made a lot easier by adding a few more explanations to the pattern. The good side is that I learned a few lessons about what to put into a pattern and what to think of before I start a project.
There is so much stuff I've been working on these past weeks, bookbinding projects, jewelry, and more knitting. My Argyle vest is almost finished and hopefully I'll get some pictures of it next weekend! Bf is getting socks for Christmas again; I'm making a few sewn presents, but more on that next post. No, it's not going to be another month until then ;-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Here's looking at you, green eyes!
I'm on schedule with Buttercup. Seaming tonight, photoshoot this weekend, blogging Monday the latest.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 06, 2006

So much stuff, so little to show

In the past few weeks, my visits to other blogs have been taunting me with all sorts of lovely projects. Maybe it's just me but somehow it seems that with the beginning of fall, you guys are churning out more socks, sweaters and shawls than in the months before. While it is always inspiring, it was also giving me a little anxiety. Usually I'm a one-project-at-a-time kind of girl and stuff gets completed at a moderate pace. Lately though I've been gripped by startitis and while it's been fun to knit a little here and sew a little there, nothing gets finished, everything just drags on in various states of completion. I'm missing a sense of accomplishement and I miss putting something on my body that doesn't have ends hanging out and pins poking me. As much as I wanted to indulge in an orgy of projects, I've got to stop. No more gazillion projects, just one or two please. Oh and in case you're wondering just how many unfinished knits I have, I won't tell you, because you'll just laugh at me. That's why I'm only going to tell you about two! Sewing excluded.
Thanks to Vanessa, who I got to meet two weeks ago for the first time and already feels like an old friend, I picked up Buttercup again. We're having a short spell of really beautiful days here, and if I finish it this week I may actually get to wear it once before it gets rainy and cold. The body is blocked and seamed and it fits perfectly. Thank god, for awhile I was afraid this little shrug would end up in the hate pile. I finished a sleeve over the weekend which is blocking this very moment, and tonight I'll baste it in to check its fit. Just one sleeve and the tie left, it should be done next weekend, hooray!
My latest project is Eunny’s Argyle vest. I’ve been wanting to knit this for a long time, but I’ve never found the right yarn (pure dk wool in colors I like) until two weeks ago, when I spied some Blue Sky Alpaca Melange at my lys. It feels even softer than their regular dk and comes in few but lovely heathered colors. I chose an olive shade as my main color and a slightly lighter pine needle green for contrast, the difference between the colors is subtle, which is what I was hoping for. I can’t wait to wear it with some tweed pants and boots and indulge my Scottish Highlands fantasies. I’m not sure yet if I’ll actually do the steeking bits. I’ve been reading the knitalong blog over and over and it seems that a lot of people have fitting issues. My plan is to make the v-neck a little less plungy and to eliminate some of the fabric around the shoulders and armholes, not too difficult, right? I got some good hints on how to fair-isle from Mr. Brooklyntweed himself. Weekend before last, Jared was in town for a few hours and the girls and I got to hang out with him. Breakfast at San Francisco’s most coveted bakery, admiring each others projects (man, the finishing on the Jarrett, so perfect!), shadecards (oh, the shadecards!), learning a few tricks, knitting a little, taking pictures, rounding it off with a visit to Imagiknit, which as always is just sensory overload. So much fun! I wish I could hang out with my knitting peeps every weekend.
Christmas is in seven weeks. Since my family is far away we don't do gifts, bf is the only one who gets something knitted. Socks, of course. Friends and bf's family have gotten handmade photoalbums, cards, and jewelry in the past, so this year they get something sewn. I've decide that Denyse Schmidt's ovenmitt is a fairly quick and easy project (maybe together with an apron if I like you lots), great for using up spare fabric.
I may have to undo the red mitt again, in my eagerness I forgot to add another layer of batting (I'm using warm&white 100% cotton and it's not as thick as polyester stuff). It's a fun project though, to be completed when I get more of the filmy silver stuff that goes in between to prevent heat transfer.
For all you guys wondering what Kureyon colors I used for the Rainbow scarf: Two skeins of #95 and one skein of #148. The latter had a lot more yardage than the former.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rainbow and Rhubarb

Last week it seemed like summer had said good-bye to the city and hello to fall. I'd been poking through my yarn bin hoping to get an idea of what to do with odd balls of yarn when I found my unfinished Kureyon scarf. I'd started it back in february when it was grey and dreary outside and I desperately needed some color. There's no better yarn to pick for some instant happiness than Noro (ok, Malabrigo), it's like the chicken soup of yarn, knit it and you'll feel better. I'd wanted a grown-up version of the Child's Rainbow from Last Minute Knitted Gifts and got two skeins of Kureyon, thinking that would be enough. But then one color ran out much earlier than the other and the scarf wasn't long enough, I didn't want to purchase more yarn. I lost interest. So when I picked it up last week I decided to get one more skein and knit from both ends.
The colors are so beautiful, I want to hang it on the wall so I can look at it all the time.
During my vacation I finished a pair of socks. They were supposed to be for me but then I started missing my boyfriend and they morphed into socks for him!
It's just a standard top-down rib pattern, but the yarn is a treat. The colorway is called 'Rhabarber' (rhubarb in English) and it made my mouth pucker a lot during knitting because the colors are just like the real thing. You can buy it here. I got mine as a surprise from Suzi, who I got to meet while I was back home! It's a pretty exciting thing to meet someone you've only known via blogging and email, but it's even more exciting when you have so much fun together you don't want the day to end. It was just a perfect day of sitting in cafes and talking, shopping a little, ending with a wonderful dinner. I was a little sad afterwards, because it'll be another year before we get to have another day like this. But I'm so happy to have experienced that day at all. The possibilities of the internet still boggle my mind!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Hop, Skip and a Plane Ride

I'm back from a very sunny and lovely trip to Munich, which was almost perfect except for the masses of people in town for Oktoberfest (I wish it would have been Socktoberfest!!). I'm not big on crowds. But I got to meet my niece for the first time and that was incredible. I know childbirth is the most natural thing in the world, but seeing this little human being that is part of my sister - and therefore a part of me as well- was very moving. I get all choked up just thinking about her. Here she is with her new quilt:
It was difficult to get a good picture of it, here it is a little wrinkled after the long plane ride.
And a close up of the front and back:
Size: 36"x45"
Pattern: I don't have the book so I came up with my own wonky shapes of Denyse Schmidt's 'A Hop, Skip and Jump' pattern from her book Denyse Schmidt Quilts. You can also download it for free here, just scroll down to Flea Market Fancy.
I used four different solids, all Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton, the rest is a mix of fabrics I purchase online and at my local quilt store. I was especially happy to find the musical kitties fabric which I used for the binding, both my sister and her husband are musicians. The batting is almost 100% warm&white cotton JoAnn's sells from the bolt. It's all machine pieced and quilted, and since the fancy walking foot I bought for exactly this purpose messed up my stitches, I used my regular foot which worked fine. This was my first quilt, and I'm glad I had no problems with it at all. Otherwise I wouldn't have wanted to try quilting again, but now I can't wait to make a big one for myself! I have to give lots of credit to The Modern Quilt Workshop by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, their quilting instructions worked really well for me and I followed their quick binding technique, which doesn't use bias strips but has you cut strips on the straight grain, thereby saving a lot of fabric.
I didn't think too much about how I wanted to quilt this project. It had to be quick and easy so I could finish it the weekend before leaving. I did a few figure eight shapes (the ones you see on many of Schmidt's quilts) on a practice swatch, they look really pretty, but took too long. I went with diagonal lines for simplicity but also because they add a little bit of movement. On a larger quilt, I would definitely take the time to either machine quilt very dense shapes if that's the look I'm going for, or I'll quilt by hand. For some reason I feel a real need to once quilt by hand, I just love the look of handquilted stitches and their soft tension.
I've got some knits to show you, but no photos yet. Sunset tonight is 6.54pm, maybe a few rays will stick around long enough for a little photoshoot.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crafty Bootcamp

While the blogging has been sparse, the crafting is going full throttle! I'm leaving for Germany next Wednesday and though I had done such a good job these past weeks in adhering to strict crafting schedules, I'm running behind all of a sudden. A few things I hoped to have done will have to wait until I get back (my sunhat may just turn into a rainhat then). I wanted to sew a dress and a top, that'll have to wait too. Buttercup may not get done either. I finished the back and front pieces, but now I'm stalling on the sleeves. See, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more useful if the sleeves were elbow length instead of short (I'd be eliminating the button closure part). Also, having stared at the tie closure for awhile, I picture that tie coming undone easily unless I double tie....but do I want a chunky knot right above my belly button? No. Should I just do a button closure? What do you guys think?
I finished the quilt top for my niece and I'm really happy with it. It's based on Denyse Schmidt's 'A Hop, Skip and a Jump' quilt from her book. I don't have the book so I made up my own pieces. For those of you unfamiliar with the design, yes, they're supposed to be crooked. I'll machine quilt it this weekend, so you'll see it finished before I leave. At the top right corner you can see a bit of the green backing fabric, it's called "Happy Homemaker". Nothing like subliminal programming starting in the crib (I love those little irons, I started ironing my family's laundry when I was five or six, it was my absolut favorite thing to do. My sister may thank me a few years from now). Did I ever mention that I went to a girl's high school AND a women's college? A double feminist education and all I dream of is being able to stay home all day to sew, knit and bake. Well, and travel.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do over. And over, and over .......

That's been the story of my crafting life these last few weeks. Some of you have wondered whether I'm still alive and kicking, no worries, all is well, I've been reading a lot more than usual lately, and putting my bookbinding skills toward repairing some old books. A lot of my crafting hasn't resulted in any mentionable fo's so far, and I didn't feel like talking about the many incarnations of works in progress. Like this floppy hat I've been sewing. When I finally made crown number seven, which at last fit perfectly on both my head and the brim part, I got dirt on it. Beats me where it came from and it doesn't come out. So I had to take a break. I made this instead, a cover for my sewing machine.
You can't go wrong sewing a rectangle! All you Pure Knits addicts will recognize the cute ribbons Miss Y ties around her shipments. Yay for recycling!
I've also started working on a baby quilt for my niece. I'm still waiting for some more fabric so no pictures yet, but the design is based on Denyse Schmidt's 'Hop, skip and a jump' quilt. In various pinks, a lot like this fabulous piece. Isn't that beautiful?
Knitting is back on the program. I had finished the back of Buttercup using my own modifications, when I ran into serious problems on the left front. So I gave up and emailed Kim for some help. That was on a late afternoon, and the very next morning I had got an answer from her mom. She was so nice and helpful, it really resolved any resentment that had grown towards the pattern. I re-knit the back and finished the left front, it's pretty quick knitting now and I hope to have it done in a couple of weeks. I love the new collection, especially Beth. They've also got a preview for the newest collection, Light and Shade up, it looks like some of the pieces are recycled from previous collections, but there are a few new designs as well. I like the beret, but it seems to be made from fuzzy wool and I can't wear wool on my head, too itchy!
When everything else either take so long or doesn't work out I grab my bead stash and make jewelry. It's quick and satisfying and I love dainty sparkly necklaces. Here a three I made over the past week:
On the left, a very long gold chain with blue quartz beads, it can be worn doubled up; in the middle, a piece of rutilated quartz on gold chain; on the right aquamarine rondelles with a lemon quartz drop.
Saving the cutest for last, a squishy squirrel from knotty bits.
Go check out her etsy shop, the are some more squirrels and adorable kitties, all lovingly and perfectly stitched.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I finished this shawl over a week ago after almost two weeks of intense knitting. Kid Silk Haze is lovely and works so well with my cheapy Phildar needles, but the pattern rows grow mindnumbingly looong towards the end. I was getting bored fast, hence the (for me) quick turn-around.
When I blocked it, the points on the left side refused to get as pointy as the ones on the right, and I have no idea why. The cast off turned out loose enough with US8's. It's not really bothering me though, I'm happy with it.
Pattern: Kiri, available for free here
Yarn: 2.5 balls of Rowan Kid Silk Haze in 'bleached' (discontinued color)
Needles: US6 for the shawl, US8's for binding off
No changes, no problems, ahhhh.
I never thought I'd jump on the shawl bandwagon, but after Kiri I'm craving more, something open and crisp and possibly black.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A little give-away

Update: It's all taken! Lori, c.e, and Elizabeth, please email me your addresses. Thanks guys!
Here are some fabrics and yarn that deserve to be used and loved. If there is anything you'd like, just leave me a comment and some way I can get in touch with you. Everything is from a smoke-free home, has been safely stored in plastic, but may have been exposed to cat hair at some point.
On the left is a high quality olive wool jersey, about 67"lx41"w, it feels like liquid wool. The photo doesn't do it justice.TAKEN. c.e. it's yours, email me your address!
In the middle, a 24"x25" piece of cotton-linen mix, with a cute muted orange-y fan print.
On the right, a long piece of Thai Silk in blue-purple-gold-black. It is 80"lx39"w, and stunning in person.
2 balls of GGH Soft Kid in a terracotta color. One ball has been used a little and rewound. TAKEN.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It truly is amazing what a few days off and good company can do to restore balance and happiness in your life. Before my roadtrip, I'd felt so out of sorts and disconnected that it even affected my speech. I used the wrong words, my grammar was off and at times I was just completely lost for words. Though this can also happen to me when I'm feeling happy, when my highs are so high that the intensity of that emotion leaves me speechless, and I become very quiet and calm, which is often misunderstood. Often, there just isn't any adequate language to describe what is going on inside of me, or sometimes, it's not the right language. It fascinates me to see how much language reflects a society's culture, how some languages have certain words available to describe a particular thing or state of being, that others don't. My good friend M feels 'round' when everything is in balance, and that comes really close to what I've been feeling these past two weeks, just round (and I've been eating so much yummy food lately that it can be applied physically as well ;-)
On the fourth of July I had lunch with Mary of Mamie makes, who was in San Francisco on business. We meet at a tea house right across from Imagiknit, which luckily was closed, no temptations there! Mary's blog has given me so much inspiration over the months, and I always hoped I'd get to meet her someday. Some people you just know you're going to click with, even if you've never met them in person. Three hours later, I wish I could have kidnapped her to chat all night! She brought me surprises from NY, Japanese pastry that was devoured, eh, savoured instantly and a beautiful Japanese book with designs of Japanese fabric. Thank you Mary, for the gifts, but mostly for the lovely time I had.
Surprises also came by mail from across the ocean. First, an envelope from Finland from Mari (who doesn't have a blog, I think), containing beautiful self-striping Novita wool yarn in beachglass colors. Definitely socks, I'm thinking.
I love the bird motif on the envelope!
A package from Germany arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Suzi sent me a spare Rowan magazine and as a surprise included this beautiful yarn dyed by her friend Claudia, aka Die Wollmeise.
The color is 'Rhabarber' or rhubarb, and so luscious I want to eat it. She also included this cute card from a bazaar, what a great idea to use up left-over yarn.
Mari and Suzi, thank you both so much, I'm so excited about these beautiful presents!
My little give-away (some fabric and yarn) will happen tomorrow around 9am. Whoever leaves the first comment, gets what they like. I'll pay for the shipping, no matter where to.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back and busy

Wow, it's been an amazing July so far! Right after bf and I got back from our fantastic roadtrip we celebrated his sister's wedding and spent time with all the family that came to visit; I also enjoyed a long lunch with a lovely blogger from NY and I've been knitting and trying to sew. I'm still so full with impressions so I better start from the beginning. But there might be a sequel to this post in case I can't concentrate long enough.
The roadtrip was amazing and I'm still experiencing a sort of reverse homesickness for that nomadic lifestyle. Lava Beds National Monument is an amazing place in the north eastern part of California which no one ever seems to have heard about, hence the area lacks chain stores and strip malls and feels forgotten. While it may not be too interesting for the standard roadtripper, it's a fantastic playground for geology lovers like bf and myself. Lava flows, caves and lava tubes, a mountain covered in black glass (obsidian), hiking on wilderness trails with no one else around, except the occasional jack rabbit, kept us happy and if we'd realized just how busy the coast was going to be, we'd have stayed here the whole time.
Here is the view from a fire tower, that white peak is Mt Shasta 200 miles to the west.

Yours truly on top of the most recent lava flow which happened 800 years ago.

Crater Lake. Pictures don't do it justice. The water is the bluest blue you'll ever see.

Old Coca Cola ad on a reststop off Interstate 5. The little guy looks crazed.

Our last days were spent on the Northern California coast. It was so busy and everything booked, we were quite overwhelmed being surrounded by so many people after the solitude of the first days. But we always manage to find an emtpy spot, like this beautiful beach to watch the sunset.

The time flew by as it always does when you're having fun. Back home, we got ready for bf's sister's wedding and I made her a guestbook incorporating the wedding colors red and gold. Never mind that I added a touch of patriotic pride with the black cloth (it wasn't intentional, but nothing else I had matched the paper ;-))


I didn't knit as much during the trip as I thought I would, there was too much to do and see. When I'm camping, I always fall into a cycle of going to sleep at sunset and getting up at sunrise. Knitting has become a late in the day activity for me, something I do after work, I've been reserving my lunch breaks for reading which I've neglected for a long time. But my socks got finished eventually. Made of lovely Sundara yarn in 'bisque', I've renamed them Ambrosia socks, inspired by the colors of some store-bought Ambrosia salad (first time I've heard of and last time I tasted this concoction, in case you don't know it either, it's fruit and lots of whipped cream mixed together.) Though the salad didn't sit well with me, the socks do. I've knit them toe-up with a pattern made up of knits and purls on US1's, and finished them with a picot bind-off. They fit so well, but I really loved that the water was crystal clear after I washed them, just like the red Sundara yarn I used before. It makes me feel better knowing that the dye isn't absorbed by my skin.
Buttercup is still sulking in the cupboard and I've yet to email KH about the mistake. Indulging my procrastination skills I have thus another project in the works, Kiri! I'm using 3 balls of KSH in 'bleached', a bunny white which unfortunately is discontinued. I'm already through one ball, it's such an enjoyable project, my first lacy shawl. How can I knit sticky mohair in the middle of summer? Thank you, coastal climate! While our days are warm and sunny, the nights are chilly in my basement lodgings. It's the perfect yarn cellar.
Mmh, my brain is getting fuzzy and yours probably too, but there is still more to tell, about my blogger lunch, lovely mail from Finland, and free fabric....though unlike PBS who makes me wait another week to find out what's happening on Miss Marple and the Moving Finger, you'll get the second part tomorrow :-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Here and there and nowhere

I almost forgot about my vacation! Bf and I are leaving tomorrow to explore the Lava Beds in the north-eastern corner of California, circle Crater Lake in Oregon, confuse stalactites and stalagmites at Oregon Caves, and shiver in foggy Redwood National Park. I can't wait to get out of the city and be surrounded by silence so my synapses can fire again. I've been so fragmented lately. I'm using the wrong words all the time, except when I'm not able to spit out any words at all, in either language. I feel, I think, it just gets lost somewhere on the way out.
When I get back in ten days, I might have a finished oject for you (and no, it won't be Buttercup, that one is staying home!) and some free fabric to give away.
Auf Wiedersehen!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Berries and Butter

I just spent the past week and a half in the land of misery, first accompanied by a painful sinus infection, which later in the week traded places with a wheezing cough. It is said that you’re supposed to stay positive because mental anguish keeps your immune system down, but that’s not so easy when you can’t do any of the things that make you happy! I did manage to finish a pair of socks I’ve been working on though, toe-up with a k2, seedstitch 2 pattern in lovely Sundara yarn which I snagged while it was available from Pure Knits.
The color is called cupid, but I’ve named my socks Berrystain Socks because they look like they were stained by smashed blue-, rasp-, black- and strawberries. Hmmm, berries…. I also started the back of Buttercup after I received my exchange yarn, pale grey-blue Ripple. Kim Hargreaves does have excellent customer service, they didn’t charge me for shipping (I only paid shipping the yarn back to them) and my yarn got here so fast. So nice. But (oh why does there have to be a but), the pattern leaves me with questions already. It’s a bit vague sometimes. When you’re supposed to do a k3tog for the armhole decreases (at beg and end of one row), why would you not do k3togtbl at the beginning of the row and the k3tog at the end? I mean, I know I don’t have to follow the pattern exactly, but is there a reason for doing it this way? And when it says: continue in pattern after the k3tog, is the pattern only the pattern repeat, or does that include the k2 with which you start and end the row? And if it does include the k2, wouldn’t it be better to k1, then k3tog, then k1 before going into the repeat, to make seaming nicer? Have I confused you yet? Maybe I should wait until I'm off the medicine.
Here is the back so far:
If you're thinking of ordering a kit from her website, check the size diagram closely, you might be able to save some money by ordering your right size. I ordered the medium but ended up casting on for the small, thanks to a lucid moment where I compared the back measurements to a fitted cardi I have. My gauge was so spot on I measured twice just to make sure.
Thanks for all your input on the quilting! It's been very helpful and I've decided to make a baby quilt first, that way I can approach it with a different eye. My sewing machine is in the repair shop right now, the weekender bag left some scars and it refuses to stitch anything other than straight stitch. But until it gets back home I've got plenty of time for fabric shopping. My eyes are glazing over at the very thought.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fabric on my mind

Or to be more precise, the combination of patterned and solid fabrics and squishy batting into a quilted object. I've been reading The Modern Quilt Workshop over and over, and leafing through Denyse Schmidt Quilts at the bookstore. I would love to make a quilt, but find it rather intimidating. Not the sewing and quilting part, though I'm sure I'll complain if I ever get that far. I'm just having a really hard time in choosing colors and patterns that look good together. I've been collecting pictures of fantastic quilts I found on the internet and just marvel at how beautifully they work. My favorite has to be the verb quilt by Jane. This surprised me as I always think of myself prefering subtle colors, but the simple squares and the vibrant combination of the red and soft blues takes my breath away. It's beautiful. Very different, yet equally stunning to me are these wool& cotton quilts on Denyse Schmidt's website. They remind me of some of Mark Rothko's paintings.
Whenever I get into something new I often make it hard on myself by starting out with something difficult, which in the end gets tossed into a corner for lack of success. I'm getting tired of these sad ufo's taking up space and decided on starting with a small object. Man, I think I'm growing up! My hot-water bottle needed a cover, I'm sure some of the funny dreams I have come from my toes touching the cold wobbly rubber in the middle of the night. I got some cheapy cotton fabrics at Joann's, all in pink and aqua (my current obsession), made a pattern by tracing the outline of the bottle and added three or so inches on each side. It's a bit misshapen. But here you see my dilemma with the fabrics. It's too bland. I think it's the fault of the top print, because its background is the same pink as the solid on the bottom. What do you think?
Let's not even talk about the quilting. At that point, I just wanted to have a one-night project, hence the boring squares.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My Weekender Bag

After a 10-hour sewing session on Saturday and a few more hours on Sunday, I finished my Weekender Bag. I can't find the words to express how thrilled I am to have finished this and to be completely happy with the outcome. Seriously, it took me ten minutes to write that last sentence and I'm not even sure it's grammatically correct. But enough stammering, here you go:




I started this bag 4 or so weeks ago, enamored with its cute vintage look and oblivious to how much time this would take to make. The outside fabric is from Amy Butler's Sunbloom line, for the lining and piping I got cocoa colored denim at my local Discount Fabrics. If you make this bag and want to center and match up your pattern, I suggest getting at least 2 yards of the main fabric. Instead of timtex I got peltex, which the sales lady claimed to be the same. I wonder though if it's not a bit thicker, as my bag is pretty sturdy and keeps its shape very well. Buy more than one big roll of thread and buy extra needles as well, I broke so many trying to go through a 3/8" layer of fabric. Because I couldn't find a 30" non-separating zipper in the color I wanted, I got a 36" separating zipper, sewed a zipper stop at 30" and chopped the rest off. It works perfectly. While the pattern instructions are easy to follow, they often didn't work for me and I used this book to help me especially with the zipper. After many failed attempts to have my pieces lining up correctly I stopped the pinning and sewing method. Instead I pushed the pins straight through
then handbasted the layers, then sewed. Basting everything all the time through such thick layers takes a lot of time, but it was worth it, I had to rip and redo a lot less than in the beginning.
I would have liked some more explicit instructions on the cording/piping as well, instead of just "don't crowd the cording". When I made the piping, I sewed app. 1/4" inch from the raw edges, with my needle positioned in the middle (my sewing machine has a dial to adjust the placement of the needle, 3 is the middle, 4-5 move the needle to the left, 2-1 move the needle to the right). After you make the piping you will have to sew twice more, always to the left of the previous stitching line. When it came to sewing the piping onto the panel, I moved my needle to position four, while my zipper foot still sewed 1/4" from the raw edge. When you sew the last layer on with a 1/2" seam (the piping is now sandwiched between two layers), I moved my needle to position 5, my zipper foot still aligned to the raw edge (but the distance from the needle changed from 1/4" to 1/2" from the raw edge). I hope this is helpful. I'd recommend this project if you have patience. Mine was just about to run out, but my happiness over it now is already clouding the bad memories.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


My Kim Hargreaves kit came yesterday.

And this is how I feel about it:

I don't like the color. I've seen it before in the store and remembered it as a rich dark pink. In reality (the photo didn't bring it out well) it looks like a strange faded bubblegum pink. Maybe it needs to grow on me.
The weekender bag is getting there. I made Saturday my deadline.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sewing and sewing and sewing

is all I've been thinking about this weekend. I've looked at my yarn in a daze wondering how big of a needle I would need to get it through the sewing machine. Then I remembered I've used two to five sticks to make loops out of yarn. Knitting, hmm, I can't get my mind around the knitting lately. Instead of frogging, there's lots of ripping going on. Every step of the weekender bag requires at least two or more runs to come out acceptably. I'm not following the steps outlined in the pattern, because I still haven't made up my mind about what color piping I want to use as contrast. This is what I've done so far:
Sunday was zipper day. And let me tell you, pinning a zipper and then seaming it was just not working for me. Pinning isn't working for me most of the time, because as soon as I stick pins in the layers, they shift. As a result, I've been hand-basting everything before sewing it together, which is cumbersome as there are so many layers, but worth the trouble. I managed to put a decent looking zipper in! Hooray!!!
I actually thought I would finish it this weekend, haha! At this rate we might be looking at another two weeks or so. But it's fascinating to watch it take shape.
This is a view from above, with the zipper disappearing into the small side pocket.
BF's mom was admiring the bag and wondering if I worried about getting it dirty. Did any of you weekender makers treat your fabric with anything to make it stain-resistant? I probably didn't pick the most sensible colors, but I don't really care, I love the green and white print. While I was sewing, the handles landed in the wet soil of my potted palm and got dirty, but a quick rinse under the tap took it right off.
During one of the few moments that my brain wasn't occupied with the weekender, I succumbed to ordering this from the Kim Hargreaves website. Shipping is free until the end of April!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weather-induced insanity

Normally I'm not a big complainer when it comes to weather as I figure there's nothing I can do about it anyway, except dress appropriately. But I'm really glad the Bay Area is having a short respite, because my online shopping has gone overboard. See, normally I don't enjoy shopping, going downtown is always accompanied by pangs of anxiety due to crowds, and I don't like accumulating so much stuff because of my nomadic lifestyle (less stuff means easier moves), but the rain has kept me staring at the computer screen instead of out the window, and for the last few weeks little packages have arrived containing old buttons and vintage fabric from ebay, more fabric from, an out-of-print book by my favorite photographer, Sarah Moon, and yarn!!! Not just any old yarn, but four skeins of Sundara yarn, ordered from Yahaira's new online shop, Pure Knits.
From top to bottom there are two skeins of cupid and two skeins of bisque sockyarn. Opening the package was like unwrapping a present, so beautiful in pink and brown tissue with lovely ribbon. I sniffed the yarn, thought about Purly dyeing and Yahaira sending it, two fellow knitters whose blogs I've been reading for a long time, looking unsuccessfully for a little Simon or Eddy fur in there, and just felt the love. It is gorgeous, and the first time since last year that I've bought yarn without a project in mind. So yes, while the shopping has been most gratifying, the crafting has been all over the place with not much to show for. My top-down Big Wool cardi is still only a few rows long. I've spend a lot more time recently with this:
Weekender Bag
The weekender bag by Amy Butler (really though, this is more purse-size by my standards, all the stuff I need for a weekend would never fit in there!). I may be in way over my head with this one, but it is so cute I had to give it a try. Underneath the pattern is my main fabric, from Amy's Sunbloom line. If you haven't been to her site recently, she's just put out a couple of new lines that are very pretty, with muted colors that I like much better than some of her very bright earlier designs.
It took me two weekends to find all necessary supplies for the bag, though I'm cheating with some. Instead of Timtex I got Peltex at JoAnn's. It's pretty stiff and should work just as well. The next problem was locating a 30" non-separating zipper, so I ended up getting a 36" separating one which I'll just shorten. I found it in the parka zipper section, lots of color choices there, though mine is just plain white to go with the green and white fabric. Cutting all the pieces out is taking a long time, and I've been secretly fearing my sewing machine may not be up to the task of chugging through a quarter inch thick layer of material. I'll find out this weekend.
I wanted to add a thank you to all those who left a comment on my Kathy cardi, they made me very happy. I'd gotten so many emails from people asking for sock patterns, after Grumperina had posted about my Mata Hari's, that I was quite overwhelmed. I sent over a hundred emails to people, but the comment thank you's suffered. So, thank you :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Kathy Cardi

It's been gloomy inside and rainy outside, adverse conditions for a photoshoot, but last evening offered a few dry minutes. Here is the Kathy Cardigan:
Pattern: Kathy from Rowan's 'Cork Collection'
Yarn: 12 balls of Rowan Cork in 'Chilly'
Needles: US 10.5
The pattern calls for US 11 needles which I got perfect gauge with, but really, my stitches looked a lot better with the 10.5's and the gauge wasn't that much off. There is often a bit too much ease for my taste in Rowan patterns, so it worked out just fine. I shortened the front and back by about 4" and added some length to the sleeves. The sleeves are knit using two alternating skeins. I had purchased the bag of Cork some time ago and needed two more balls, which I found on ebay. It wasn't the right dyelot but at this point I was happy to have found that colorway at all. The new balls were a little lighter, but the yarn is heathered and you can't tell. Finishing took forever, there were soo many ends to weave in. I re-did the sleeve cap because it was a little short, the three-needle bind-off didn't look good with the ribbing so I undid both shoulders and used backstitch. Now I'm glad I did, the yarn is pretty stretchy and backstitch provides a little more stability. I'm happy with this jacket. Though it wasn't a love at first sight project, once I started I enjoyed the process so much. Cork feels a little crispy at first and my stitches looked wonky, but it blocks out very nicely. It's so soft! And warm, though the fabric is light.
What now? I'm feeling lost, like a dancer who just finished a great show and now sits in her dressing room in stillness, wondering where the magic went. The next project is already waiting for me in its bag, but somehow I can't start just yet, I need a little more time to...I don't even know what. Maybe I should finish my skirt for Isew?Iknit! so I can start planning the next sewing project, a bag. I've picked a pattern but I may be in way over my head with this one. More about this soon.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Work of Art

All pieces of my cardi are knit, the body is sewn together and just waiting for its set-in sleeves and the last ends to be woven in. I'm very excited, it fits beautifully. Hopefully I don't have to wait until the weekend for photos, but we're about to break a record here in SF for having the most rainy days in March since 1904. I'll leave you with this truly stunning work of art, a woolen coat by Balenciaga. I wish I could see this in person:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Red Sweater Bearing Tree

Wow! Thanks so much for the great compliments on my Mermaid gloves. I'm excited about all the comments and have discovered lots of new (to me) blogs.
While I was working on the gloves my imagination got a little carried away and I thought about a whole knitted skin-tight Pomatomus outfit. For Halloween, of course. Yes this is a crazy idea and I'm not considering it seriously, but it's just a cool thought, just picture it.
Last week one of the blogs I read featured photos of the Redsweaters Project. I had heard about it, but didn't know it was just a few minutes away from my house. Driving up the street all of a sudden a bright red tree pops out from amid the greenery leading up to Bernal hill.
It was a beautiful sight, and at this sunny carefree Sunday it was hard to think of its reason for being. When I went to the website last week, 87 more sweaters were needed. Today it is 93.
Here are a couple of links I wanted to share with you:
Quilter Ian Hundley has currently a show in New York. His quilts are influenced by aerial views and maps. I think I saw a link to another quilt artist who works like this on whip-up the other day. Unfortunately there is only one quilt on his site. I'm particularly fascinated by these types of quilts as they remind me of a childhood thing I used to do on train or car rides. I'd be staring at the side of the road, watching all the shapes and colors meld together and wishing I could make it into fabric. Wouldn't that make some interesting clothing? I'd still love to do this someday.
For my birthday last month I gave myself a subscription to Selvedge, a British magazine featuring all things textile. Purchasing it at my bookstore here has always given me pangs of guilt as it is rather expensive, but a subscription is much cheaper. You save even more if you go for the online version instead of the paper. Maybe you could get your local library to subscribe to it. The last issue had articles on vintage feedsack clothing, the Jaipur Arts festival, silk walls, the Korean craft Poyagi and other textile artists. The photography is beautiful. I always learn something new and it is tempting me to go back to school to get a degree in Textiles.