Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've been fabric shopping -- or at least trying to -- twice so far this week, but the selection was pretty dismal. I was helping my friend pick out fabric for her next couple of quilts and since fat quarters are on sale again, I wanted to find some more light browns for the spool quilt, and some really dark browns for the Irish chain I'm suddenly planning, and some reds for the red scrap quilt... I didn't find much.

And the yarn selection was worse! Michael's has SWS on sale for $1.50 a skein. I was sure they'd be out of that, but they were out of EVERYTHING! Joann's was just as bad, and even Walmart, who didn't have anything on sale, was the most picked over I've ever seen it. Hopefully it means they'll be bringing in something new and wonderful, but I'm not holding my breath.

I did get some great backing fabric at Joann's for $1.50 a yard. One is a kind of odd blue and brown vine pattern, but I think it'll be perfect for that blue bargello quilt I just finished. Janet gave me a basting gun for Christmas, so I think I'll use some of that polyester batting my sister handed down to me and try doing another quilt on my machine. Translation -- I want an excuse to play with my new toy and I'm not giving up rare longarm time for that quilt!

Thanks for the feedback on it, which I really appreciated. It definitely helps to have another set of eyes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Since I haven't picked up my knitting needles in I don't know how long, I guess it's safe to list my end-of-the-year project totals for 2008 -- my first successful adult sweater, three shawls, four cowls/scarves, four hats, four pairs of mittens, five pairs of adult socks (four in fingering weight one in worsted), five pairs of toddler socks, six bags, six sweaters for the kids, six bookmarks, two washrags, a lobster, a miniature knitting bag, a baby sweater, and a pair of slippers.

That adds up to fifty-one knitting projects, a much higher number than I expected since I spent so much of this year not knitting.

I also pieced eight quit tops, most within the past couple of months, and quilted four of them.

I'm not even ready to guess at what I'll knit next year. I'd have to cheat nad look at my sidebar or Ravelry page to list what's on my needles now. But I do have some definite plans for my quilts.

I'll get to them tomorrow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wow, this thing went together fast! I thought I might be able to finish before the end of 2008 if I really worked at it, but the whole thing went together in two short early mornings.

Blue Bargello

Try to ignore the little boy in the background -- this is the only shot I managed where one wasn't running in front of the quilt!

All of the quilters around me have been wanting to try a bargello quilt -- everyone but me. Then I saw the Scrappy Bargello pattern at Quiltville and fell in love with the quilt at the top of the page and started pulling out fabric.

There was a lot of blue and a little bit of green in the first bag I grabbed, so I wound up with a blue quilt. Not much of this was planned out, except for the dark blue -- and that's the color I don't like in the finished quilt! If I was doing it again, I'd add more dark strips or leave them out entirely. One of the lighter fabrics has a cream background and those strips kept jumping out at me every time I got the dark blue positioned the way I wanted it.

I'm considering this quilt a near miss. It came out better than I expected considering my total lack of planning, but if it wasn't for those two or three dark and cream fabrics, I think I'd absolutely love it.

I definitely have to make a huge scrappy one like the one in the top picture!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

There will be lots more pictures here since I got TWO digital cameras for Christmas, one from my husband and one from my parents. Of course I'm only keeping the one Bill bought, because it's is the one he bought and I'd already opened it up and started figuring out how to use it before I got the second one.

It's itty-bitty. That was my biggest criteria for a camera, that it be small enough to carry around in my purse. And inexpensive enough that Bill won't divorce me if something happens to it. The old camera killed itself, but I was always too worried about it getting lost or stolen from the stroller to take it with us. And the new cameras he wants have price tags that make me cringe. Not that I don't want him to buy one, I just don't plan on ever touching it.

The weather did clear up enough for the family to drive down on Christmas day. Grandma brought this lovely gal, which was my real present.

The other present, which I'd asked her to slap a bow onto because I didn't want to hear Bill gripe about it, not that he's serious or that I pay much attention, was her latest thrift store find. By weight, I'm guessing that box has seventy five yards of quilting cotton in it, and most of it looks like quilt shop stuff. And it's all in colors that I would've picked out myself...and seventy-five yards of it?!

I'm going to have some serious fun figuring out what to do with that windfall.

For the past week I've been dying to quilt, but I had too much other stuff to get done and the family kept undoing it all faster than I could catch up. I didn't even have anything good on my knitting needles to distract myself with.

Friday night, I found a pattern online, dug some scraps out of the sewing room, and started cutting. A hundred and twenty eight strips sounded like a lot, but Saturday I cut a little more and by then I had all that I needed.

This morning, I got up at five-thirty and started sewing. Even taking time for a shower and breakfast and helping the kids get ready, I had half of the quilt pieced before it was time to leave for church. I got more done at nape time, and probably could've finished the whole top if I hadn't decided to take a break and play online.

I'm not sure I like the way the dark fabrics are falling, but maybe once I get the fourth panel done, I can shift them around and come up with something better. Or not. It's a quickie scrap quilt and I'm not going to stress about it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm so glad I got Grandma's scrappy log cabin quilt done before Christmas instead of making the sane choice and giving her the one I made for myself. It feels good that I made one just for her. Well that, and I'm a selfish brat who didn't want to give up my own quilt.

Hers is the one on the left, the one that's quilted and bound and ready to be wrapped in pretty paper. After wrestling to quilt it on my machine, I think I'll wait for a chance to do mine on the long arm. I don't have batting for it here at the house. If I did, I bet I'd suddenly feel up for another wrestling match.

Have I mentioned how pleased with these quilts I am? I love that there are two of them.

I had a moment of absolute panic this afternoon when I decided to throw in the towel and make a couple of chicken blocks instead of cleaning house for company that isn't going to come. The magazine with the pattern wasn't next to my sewing machine. It wasn't in the dining room, wasn't in the stacks of magazines and patterns I'd moved up to the real sewing room, didn't seem to be anywhere at all...

A couple of hours later, after the frantic search had resulted in a very tidy dining room, I found it in a basket in the kitchen. And I still haven't started a block because after digging out my stack of pretty red and black chickeny prints, I decided that I should probably pre-wash them instead of gambling that they won't run.

Quinn's mouse mittens went out to play in the snow and had a trip through the washing machine before I got a chance to take pictures. So they're a bit misshapen, but it's so adorable to watch the little guys play with them. Did you know that mouse mittens eat people?

Monday, December 22, 2008

"The tree has Christmas in it!"

Except for Leif, Christmas spirit is in short supply around this house. I had plans. We were going to see Santa....and to see the lights because I absolutely had to hear Leif's reaction to street after street of Christmas houses....and to bake cookies with Grandma...And the weather has been so uncooperative that I don't even think the grandparents and great-grandparents are going to make it down to see us on Christmas day.

My shopping was done in three mad dashes, one of them on icy roads I had no business driving on, but by the time I realized how bad it was I'd already driven fifty miles and was so close to my destination that I wasn't going home empty-handed. So I do have presents for my kids and husband, and a ton of candy and little goodies for the stockings. Hopefully I have enough paper.

The frustrating part (and the part I probably shouldn't complain too much about!) is that the roads here are absolutely fine. We had some snow this morning which didn't last for long, and a little dusting within the past hour or so, but nothing that would keep me from leaving the house. It's the places I want to go to that are all snowed and iced in. And we're the ones who live in the foothills.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday sorting through my little dining room sewing corner and hauling stuff out to the real sewing room. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't actually getting rid of anything, that it's all just a few feet further away and that I could bring it all back as soon as company has come and gone. That was when I still thought company was coming.

Hopefully I did a careful enough job that I'll be able to find what I put up there. I did finally stumble across the dinosaur quilt top which has been missing since Thanksgiving. For no reason I can imagine, it was folded up in my knitting basket, which I had to sort through after I got up to answer the phone and the little guys upended my full glass of diet Coke into it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Only 82 more strips to sew together and the blocks for the Christmas Log Cabin will be done! I can probably manage that tonight and get the blocks assembled tomorrow morning. Having that top together will be a huge relief. If the weather will warm up enough that I can pick up backing and batting later this week, I'll be even happier.

Mom's present is done. After changing my mind about the slippers, I couldn't get excited enough about the cowl, so I decided to do socks. The pattern for the Traveler socks I wanted to make wouldn't download, so I wound up doing a pair of worsted weight Horcrux socks. I really do like that pattern.

And I've still got at least two more bookmarks to knit. I just printed out a bunch of new patterns from Ravelry. At least a couple of them have to be exciting enough for me to cast on tonight.

After those log cabin blocks are done.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I don't think I have enough scraps

I found exactly what I needed to distract myself with today -- Quiltville! The link I originally followed was to the Leaders and Enders article, and then I wandered from there to the Scrap User's System.

I didn't even get to look at the free patterns on the sidebar, but I don't think I have enough scraps to make all of the quilts I fell in love with on that site!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's that time of year when something in my brain suddenly flips from "It's still too early to shop/knit for Christmas" to "Time is running out! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

I've spent a week or so in deep denial, but now it's time to make an actual list and get to work. Not that I'll stick to my list, but at least having one would be good. I think.

So here goes:

1) the log cabin quilt

I've decided that Grandma needs a log cabin quilt. I'm too selfish to give away the one I made for myself, which means piecing another top. So far I've got thirteen of the thirty-five blocks done.

2) something for mom

I was going to make her the Aran Isle Slippers from the Holiday IK. I bought yarn to make those slippers. Then I read the pattern. I'm not going to even think about picking up that many stitches, not after struggling with the cuffs of the Ribby Slipper Socks.

So I need a new plan. I've got lots of ideas and yarn, but I keep changing my mind.

3) bookmarks

I'd like to make bookmarks for the children's librarians, but I'm not positive how many of them there are. I think I need five.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

For a while there, it felt like I was doing nothing but quilting. Now the pendulum has swung the other direction and I'm knitting non-stop.

My Life is Uneven Cowl is done, but I can't find it right now to take a picture. There's really not much to take a picture of -- mine looks like the one in the pattern picture, except it's a spicy orange color and I don't look as cute wearing it. But it was a fun knit, once I got used to the big needles and yarn. I did the math -- there are less stitches in the whole cowl than in one of those bookmarks I've been knitting.


The Ribby Slipper Socks (Interweave Knits Holiday 2008) I made as a Christmas gift are done and completely underwhelming. The pictures in the magazine are cute, and the slippers look okay when they're on a human foot, but the heel and toe construction are just less refined than I'd expect from an IK pattern. I'd planned on making pairs for my kids, but I think I'm going to experiment with a short row heel and different toe.


And the Snowman Mittens are done -- these, I love! I used up the rest of the white acrylic I'd scounged for the bones of the turkey hat and, if a migraine hadn't derailed my progress, probably could have had the pair done in one long evening. For something that looks so neat, it's really just stockinette and seed stitch, with a couple of cable twists to shape the snowmen. The colors in the picture are weird, but my first try was orange. How does white yarn photograph as ORANGE? (I know, probably something to do with the background fabric and the fact that I really need a new camera.

The designer also has a free pattern for a toddler sweater called Waffles for Brunch. I want to dig up some yarn and swatch to see if I can make that one for Quinn or Leif.

The snowman mittens came out too big for Quinn, but fit Alex nicely. So now I'm halfway through a pair of Mouse Mittens for him. And I've got to take a serious look at my Christmas knitting to figure out what I actually plan to do and how long it's going to take.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I finished a pair of slippers last night that look fine on human feet but really stupid just lying there. Which makes me have second thoughts about using them as a gift. Can you just see me on Christmas Day -- "Put them on, they really look better than that!" or "Close you eyes and hold your feet still while I unwrap this and put it on you!"

Haven't tried it yet, but I hope that stuffing them with crumpled newspaper and give them some shape in the package.

Now that the slippers are done, I'm working on my Life is Uneven Cowl. That pattern calls for size 17 needles which I don't have, so I'm using 15s. It really is like knitting on broomsticks. But I'm loving the color of the yarn and the squooshy garter stitch and thinking maybe it would make a great vest. When I'm not fighting the broomsticks and glad I didn't get a skein in another color to make that other cowl pattern I found.

I'm fickle. I know it.


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