Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happiness Project: LOVE THIS

My friend Leigh posted this on Facebook and I literally had tears in my eyes at the end - all weddings should be so joyful!  This makes me wish I had gotten married and done this...

I Seem To Be On A Green Kick...

Ok, so remember a few weeks ago when I said I was working on finishing up old projects?  Well, it didn't last long, and here I am right smack in the middle of a new one.  I had forgotten that months ago I had signed up for a quilt class here, to make this quilt.  I went a bit more monochromatic with my color scheme, which I am honestly on the fence about.  Mostly I like it - this morning as I was walking to the train station the sun was dappling the trees in such a manner that it reminded me of this project - but: I have to confess that I am jealous of my classmates' more raucous, colorful creations.  I am already thinking about doing another one in more funky colors.

The hardest part of this project is lining up the blocks in a way that you don't have clusters of strips in the same color too near each other.  I think it may be more difficult in a colorway like this, because there's no obvious bright pink screaming "move me!".  It's harder for me to see any clumping of colors, particularly with the dark ones.  Currently, the blocks are pinned to a flannel sheet that is tacked to my living room wall (where, hopefully, the finished quilt will hang).  I find myself staring at the blocks, and then suddenly my eye will catch two leaf prints touching, or two bright greens too close.  At some point, though (as in, before next week's class!), I'm going to have to just suck it up and sew them together.  (Let me just add that last night, roughly around midnight as I was fussing about with block placement, it became clear to me that - much like everything else in my life - I am WAY overthinking this.)  And I'm also anticipating the quilting part - I'd like to find a nice leaf pattern...will I be brave and try to machine quilt it, or will I spend the next six months hand quilting it?  Decisions, decisions...

Finally, I must say that I'm surprised at how much I've enjoyed the class.  I've quilted for 15 years now, and never before took a formal class.  I learned by watching my grandmother and through my own trial-and-error using various books and magazines.  I'm a little shy about having people observe me - both my process and my output - but everyone seems very friendly, and I like the company (five other women, mostly my mom's age).  Since I don't have any "quilting" friends, it's nice to be around people who carry seam rippers in their pockets and know their way around a cutting board, not to mention people who completely understand having a monthly fabric budget.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Non-Train Knitting!

I am, at best, a mediocre knitter, and so I am always thrilled - and more than a little surprised - when I knit something that actually resembles the photo in the instructions.  This little sweater has, um, an issue or two...but it was a great "learning curve" project.  It's knit all in one piece, but there was enough sewing up to do that I was able to finally figure out mattress stitching.  I knit this in an oatmeal-colored alpaca, as it is incredibly soft (if impractical...), and  I added a shiny (and somewhat sparkly) organdy ribbon.  The sweater actually ties in the back, but I tied it on the side for photo purposes.  

Yarn = Frog Tree 100% Alpaca Wool
Pattern = "Wrap Top" from Easy Baby Knits by Claire Montgomerie

On a completely unrelated subject, everyone in the universe should go buy Ray La Montagne's new album.  Trust me.  He only looks scary.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Train Knitting

Rarely have I been so elated to finish a project.  This is the "Pink Aura" scarf from  One-Skein Wonders, for which I used TWO skeins of Manos del Uruguay's merino/silk blend in "Wildflowers".  I opted to use a size 6 needle, instead of a 10.5 as the pattern called for, because I wanted a more dense fabric.  Alas, that meant needing more yarn...and more time.  This was intended to be a spring scarf, but that didn't happen (although this crazy weather is much more spring-like than summer right now!).  This project has been my train knitting now for at least two solid months, and I must confess there have been several days where I couldn't even look at the thing, and either read or slept my way to and from work.  But it is DONE, DONE, DONE now, and I can finally work on something else without this nagging me from my purse. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Experimenting: Wall Quilt #1

A few months ago, I started working on a scrap log cabin quilt using 1 1/2 inch strips.  I quickly discovered this was akin to plucking my bushy eyebrows one hair at a time, even though I was chain piecing - it was painfully slow going.  That project is still *ahem* in progress, but I did use some of the strips and make a small (9 x 12) wall quilt, which I then hand quilted.  I found some pre-cut flowers that I had bought for some long-forgotten scrapbook project, so I used a silver brad in the middle, then sewed them onto the quilt.  I bought a fairly inexpensive frame at the craft store, and voila:

This was a really simple way of using up some scraps while watching my Netflix videos; so simple that I was a little reticent about giving it as a gift.  It was, however, well-received by the recipient (my cousin, who is expecting a baby girl).  The plus side on this project is that if she doesn't want to hang it up (or even if she does want to hang it up for awhile), when the baby gets older the quilt can be removed and used as a doll blanket (obviously for a child over the age of 3, since it has small parts that could come off).

The downside on this of course (other than my less-than-stellar photography) is that it was obviously not professionally framed, and I read somewhere that one should frame quilts in a frame deep enough to keep the cloth away from direct contact with the glass.  In this case, as it was an experiment, I was fine with taking the inexpensive route and framing it myself.  

Upcoming:  another wall quilt experiment and an ACTUAL, FINISHED KNITTING PROJECT, hurray!