Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fruit Salad Quilt - Part 1

About a month ago, I introduced you to a jumper from 1984. I thought at first I was going to rework the entire garment into a new one, but when I started pulling it apart, I realized that the green fabric had faded and should be folded into the fabric stash. The pink skirt part had some possibilities. So, I cut a big hunk out of the middle of the front and used that fabric as the waistband.

I also cut up a muslin shirt (one of those projects that seemed like a really good idea at the time but ended up being a one-wearing outfit that then got wadded into the back of the stash). When I trimmed out the front, back, and sleeves, I had enough fabric to serve as a lining.
I figured that the lining didn't have to be as long as the skirt, and this lining is about knee-length. Last weekend, I put elastic in the back part of the waistband. (I have never done anything like this before; I've always put the elastic all around, but I had noticed that the ready-to-wear skirts I like best have the elastic just in the back.) I sewed the ends of the elastic to bits of muslin and pinned the ends into place at the side seams.
Then, I sewed the ends down with several lines of stitching, removed the pins, and folded over and sewed down the waistband all around. Sharp-eyed folks will notice that I didn't do a try-on after I had the elastic pinned into place. Shall we just say that the middle of the back of the waistband has been opened twice, the elastic cut and sewed together twice (because certain people don't learn very quickly....)? Since I didn't tamper with the hemming when I was disassembling the jumper, I could go straight to the buttonholes.

While most people in Washtenaw County were either huddled in front of their televisions or standing in Michigan Stadium living and dying play by play, I was in the sewing room cursing my sewing machine, my inability to read simple directions, the thread I was using, etc. Periodically, I'd dash downstairs to catch the score or watch a replay (because the radio in the sewing room is permanently tuned to the local public radio station, and it's too confusing to be changing stations, that's why) and then dive back into the buttonhole mess. Anyway, I ended up with 14 pretty well spaced buttonholes, and then I attached buttons I had scavenged from a shirt that I had torn up for rags earlier this month. Here's the finished product:
I like it, it fits nicely, and I have another versatile skirt for the spring and summer.

I have finished another cowl; this uses the Braided Vines pattern I found on Ravelry. It was pretty quick and easy (while I was working on this, I also made a Duet hat for a lady at church - no pix, sorry).
With this cowl done, I pulled the next yarn I wanted to work with, a wool/silk blend I got at the Fiber Expo two years ago and decided on the Scrunchable cowl pattern from Ravelry.  I was hanging out with friends all day on Friday, knitting my little heart out, and I got home to show my husband that I had made about an inch of cowl - I had trouble pulling enough yarn for the long-tail cast on (three tries with the first needles), then I didn't have the gauge right (which I discovered after knitting for two hours), which meant I had to start over, and it took three tries to get the right sized tail for the second set of needles. Then I realized that I still didn't have quite the right gauge, but I also didn't have the next size of needles. So, I did a few judicious decreases (which took me two hours to figure out - okay, dinner was mixed in there), and finally, I really got going, and here's the cowl about half done:
Isn't that gorgeous? Do you see why I stuck with this yarn and with this pattern? I could totally see myself making this pattern in another color way. There are some gorgeous single-colored cowls showing on Ravelry.

Do you know that I still think of myself as a quilter? This afternoon, I pulled out that pile of fabrics I had pulled a couple of weeks ago and then did something I very seldom do: Opened a book and looked for a quilt pattern. I like to design my own, but sometimes I just have to let someone else do that work. I opened Jan Krentz' Lone Star Quilts and Beyond, found a pattern that I really like - Remembrances - and started sorting fabrics. Here's what I ended up with:
The lighting isn't very good, but trust me, we have oranges, lemons, apples, cherries, pineapples, peas, and jalapeno peppers. More pictures next week, I promise.

Finally, a new cat has been seen in the fabric hutch:
I have not seen a conflict between Little Bit (whose domain this has been) and the Princess interloper, but I am curious about how the timing works. Is it that Little Bit (who doesn't stay in the hutch when I'm in the sewing room) simply cedes the space to Princess when I'm in the room? hmmm

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eleanor Cowl - done!

Just a quick post here. I finished knitting the Eleanor cowl and blocked it.
Isn't that a beautiful lace pattern? I am so pleased with it, and I hope that the niece who gets it loves it, too. I didn't have much yarn left over, in fact, I actually didn't knit the last four rows of the pattern.
The little red threads on the yarn is where I was measuring half yards to see how much I had left. This morning at the coffee shop with friends after church, I mattress-stitched the sides together and realized in the middle of the process that the top row (the bind-off row) was tight. Ooops. I tried telling myself it didn't matter, but I knew that the tight top row would keep the piece from being comfortable to put on or wear.

When I got home, I poked through my knitting bag and found the Knitty article about the Interlock Bindoff that I had put aside for a day like this. The technique is well explained, beautifully illustrated, and easy to learn. The resulting top row is very stretchy and easy to wear. Here's the finished product:
In another part of my life, I attended a prayer vigil last Friday evening to help show support for a member of my parish who is facing deportation. I would ask anyone reading this to please look at this website and please consider signing the online petition and calling one of the numbers listed, asking that this mother of three American citizens be allowed to stay in this country. The bishop of the Catholic diocese of Lansing has written a letter to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency supporting Lourdes' petition. There are some terrible injustices going on in our society that are ruining the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. Writing this paragraph is such a tiny thing to do, but if enough of us "ordinary" people speak up, maybe we can start fixing these problems.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vines and Eleanor and Jumper and Duets, Oh My!

Hello, everyone! This week, I shipped off the Duet hats/cowls to my mother-in-law, but not before I took a picture:
Aren't they pretty? Yeah, I added little tassels to the ends of the I-cord on the pink hat. I thought it added a cute touch. With those done, I was able to turn to the Eleanor cowl and make some serious progress:

The yarn is so soft that I'm not minding the fact that I have to concentrate hard and count constantly - this is NOT company knitting. With that in mind, last evening, I cast on the Braided Vines cowl and was able to keep up my end of the conversation at the coffee shop this morning.
Yes, I am aware that my next yarn purchase should be on the green/yellow/orange side of the color wheel. I so hope that my nieces like these darling little neckwarmers!

This afternoon, as I was ripping apart the jumper that I showed last week, I realized that the skirt of the jumper was in pretty good shape and, with a lining and a waistband, would get me a nice spring/summer skirt. There was so much excess fabric in the skirt that I'll be able to have a button-front skirt and use the excess fabric for the waistband.
I was able to pull out some appropriate lining fabric from the stash, so I'll be working on the rehabbed skirt over the next couple of weeks.

In between the various projects, I have read a couple of books recently. This weekend I finished Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's All Wound Up, which I purchased at my local bookshop (at Stephanie's request on her blog). Just remember, if we don't support them, they'll go away. Back to the book: knitting humor is a pretty narrow part of the humor spectrum, but Stephanie mines it well. There is an incident in the book that had me standing outside Hubby's office (while waiting for him to finish for the day) and chuckling, chortling, giggling, etc. He looked askance when I announced that the drive home would include a dramatic reading. I was less than a page into the story when he let loose with the first chuckle. We were nearly home by the time I finished the story, and we were both laughing so hard that I think it may have counted as distracted driving.

The book I read before that was a book I happened to scoop up on my last dash through the dying Borders Book Store, The English is Coming by Leslie Dunton-Downer. This is an entertaining look at the history of the English language, the current state of it as a global language, and some speculation about its future directions. I find myself hearing the language differently and paying attention to how the folks around me (many of whom speak it as a second or third language) speak it.

Now, for the cute kitty pictures of the week. First, I decided to reorganize my bureau, and a certain Brat Cat got curious about an empty drawer.
In the afternoon, as I was knitting along, a flag floated by
and a few minutes later Baby Boy was looking for attention:
Tell me you would have kept on knitting and not have given some serious cuddles....