Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Christmas Knitting

Christmas 2012 is now in the books: the gifts have been exchanged, opened and even worn. Now I can post about the stealth knitting I have been working on since last March! 

First up are the Melody Fingerless Mitts I knit for my daughter Libby. I picked up this kit at Vogue Knitting Live! in Chicago, and had fun knitting with beads for the first time. The yarn was JoJoLand Melody Superwash sock yarn. Beads were black size 6.

My daughter Kristen was the sweater recipient for this year, and she had chosen this Drops design last January, along with several others. That way I could pick the one I wanted to knit from her choices, and she would still be surprised! I used Berocco Vintage yarn, which knitted up beautifully. This cardigan, knit in the worsted weight yarn, is very warm. Even though there is waist shaping, the more boxy style will lend itself to layering very easily.

 I immediately thought of my son's girlfriend, Cassie, when I saw this Vickie Howell pattern in a recent knitting magazine. Knit with a bulky yarn, Sheepish, it was a fun pattern to knit up. And the yarn is deliciously soft and squishy!

The men in the family all received beanie hats this year. I was having lots of fun with these and ended up knitting one extra which will kick off my chemo hat donations for Knit Michigan in February. This basic men's hat pattern was given to me by my knitting buddy Janet, and I was able to memorize it without much trouble. The worsted weight yarns made the knitting quick and easy.

                              And what a good-lookin' bunch of fellows, I must say!

I have to admit that using March as a starting point for my Christmas Knitting really worked out well this year. I was finished with the majority of the knitting in November, with just the usual loose ends to tie up just before Christmas.

Now, I am nearly finished working on a commissioned scarf/wrap, and plan to cast on for the Claudia evilla  knitted skirt in the Kauni gray ombre colorway for me! I also have plans to cast on the Rockefeller shawl by Stephen West, and that's for me too. You can see I have some selfish knitting planned to kick off the new year :-)  And I had so much fun knitting with beads that I picked up 3 more packages of beads that match some of my stashed sock yarn, so more fingerless mitts are in my future, I'm sure! 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lightening Shawl

I finished this KAL with Sweet Pea's Yarn and Gifts last Spring, and now that the weather is colder I got a chance to wear it. The Lightening Shawl is a fun project to knit, and using the variegated Mini Mochi yarn made this shawl look fabulous. I inadvertently added a couple of rows (count much?), which I noticed when I started to run short on yarn. Thanks to my fellow knitter Kathy, I was able to use what she had left from her shawl to finish mine. 

Here is a close-up......maybe a little too "close-up"! LOL Hard to take those pics of yourself with the camera phone and smile at the same time :-)
I love the simple shawl pin I picked up last year at Knit Michigan. 

Posts to this blog have been few and far between since there has been NO sewing going on, and all my knitting is for Christmas right now....."stealth" knitting, as we knitters like to call it! Look for a knitting-heavy post soon, and a year-end wrap up after that. 
After the holidays, I'm looking forward to supplementing my work wardrobe with some new pieces. Last night after wrapping gifts (and a nice red wine!) I took full advantage of the sale going on at Gorgeous Fabrics......a gift to me!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blogger Award

Thank you, Lori from Girls in the Garden, for nominating me for my first Blogger Award, the Very Inspiring Blog/One Lovely Blogger Award!

I'm thrilled that this came from Lori: an exceptional sewist, gardener, decorator, and Mom....not necessarily in that order :-) 

The rules of this award are:

1-Thank the person who nominated you.
2-Add The One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
3-Share 7 things about yourself.
4-Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5-Inform you nominees by posting a comment on their blogs. are 7 things:

1- I love sushi, but only eat it in Chicago with my 2 daughters
2-My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and we work together 4 days/week.
3- I am an alum from the University of Michigan so my blood runs maize and blue ;-)
4-I belong to 2 knitting groups, and one quilting group, and I love my knitting and sewing buddies!
5-Dresses are my favorite garments to sew.
6-TV viewing: Project Runway (but of course!), Parenthood, The Good Wife, Mad Men, Downton Abbey
7-Best way to spend a weekend: Game Night! with my husband, 4 kids and their friends.....priceless!

Passing this award on to 10 nominees will be difficult, since I see this weekend that many of the bloggers I read have already received this award. What I will do tho, is  
link to 3 sewing bloggers that I've just started reading. These gals are amazing:

1-Poldapop sews garments with a lot of detail
2-JuliaBobbin; amazing sewing skills
3-LauraMae at Lilacs & Lace loves to knit and sew retro

Opening my Google Reader everyday while I enjoy my morning coffee is a real treat for me, and I feel like I've made some 'real' online friends and continue to be inspired by their work. The Internet has opened up my world of sewing and knitting, and I feel like I learn something new almost every day!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

And the winner is.....!

As someone who rarely wins anything, I'm excited to say that I have really hit the jackpot these last few months. I found this lovely, queen-sized quilt top at an estate sale a couple of weeks ago. It was folded up and stuffed on a shelf that held yards and yards of folded fabric. I had searched through those shelves earlier and didn't see it, but while I was picking through the fabric one last time I saw a sewn seam......SOLD! for $3.00! I am just thrilled that I was able to save another quilter's beautiful work:

                     Close-up shot of the center medallion.....very pretty fabric choices:

Over the summer, I purchased 1 ticket for this raffle quilt offered by our small town's Historical Society. A lovely and sweet Cathedral Window, hand sewn by another anonymous quilter. This quilt is an interesting shape, long and narrow, and looks like it might have been made to lie at the
foot of the bed as decoration. I really like the Cathedral Window design, and know that I would never take the time to make I was thrilled to bring this one home to add to my collection (shown folded over at the top by about 12 inches to accommodate my wall space).

Love the sweet little windows of vintage fabrics, set in a linen-like fabric:

Quilts that are raffled off or sold at estate/yard/garage sales are just looking for the right person to take them home....and I'll continue to keep my eyes open for that opportunity ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving

May we all reflect on our Blessings as we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Quilt 2012 update

Making progress on the Christmas Quilt discussed here. Quilting is finished, I'll be sewing on the binding while I'm at my Quilt Guild meeting tonight. Hooray! A new quilt for the holidays!
Final pics to come.......

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hungry Caterpillar Baby Cocoon and Hat

Finally....a knitting project that I can write about!
Like many knitters, the majority of my knitting projects at this time of year are all about gift-giving. This adorable little project was a gift my niece and her husband at their baby shower last weekend.
I have to thank my knitting buddy Deb for introducing me to this pattern, and I stole her idea of gifting it with the book and caterpillar toy :-) Perfect!
This is a quick and easy project using Vickie Howell's line of yarn, Sheepish. So soft and squishy, perfect for snuggling a new baby.

The only "fiddly" part of this pattern is attaching the eyes. The patterns suggests hot glue(!), but I chose to stitch the green part to the felt base using my sewing machine and invisible thread. Then I hand stitched that to the hat, and hand stitched the yellow rims, along with the antennae. Not hard to do, just took a  little time.            Too cute!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt

I'm so happy to be participating in Faye's Carnival of Skirts sew-along this month! It was just the motivation I needed to get back to sewing some additions to my work wardrobe, since I wear skirts a lot. After seeing so many successful projects using Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt pattern, I ordered one online along with her recommended elastic. Of course, I received my order *several* weeks (months??) ago, and it's been just sitting on my sewing table mocking me. 

Per pattern instructions I used a stretch woven fabric, not sure where it came from....maybe Vogue Fabrics a year or two ago? It has quite a bit of stretch, with a weight similar to a stretch denim. The fabric is actually two-sided, with a shot of gold thread here and there (which fails to come across in the photo). Of course, I spent quite a bit of time last night trying to make up my mind which side of the fabric to use, and decided that the darker side with very little metallic thread visible would be more office appropriate. 

Using the measurements on the pattern envelope, I cut out a size Large.....and that was the wrong choice. I ended up taking the skirt in twice, so now I'm at the size Medium. I'm sure the generous amount of stretch in this fabric helped, but still nice to know going forward. Also, I may peg the hemline a bit more next time.  And I will be using this pattern again. Quick and easy, with a perfect pencil skirt silhouette. And I love the elastic waist, which looks like a waistband due to the streamlined cut resulting in a nice smooth waist and hip, without the usual "fullness" of an elastic waist.
Below are some pics with styling options....

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Pin-baste a Quilt for Machine Quilting

Christmas will be here in 81 days, and I try to have a new Christmas quilt each year. "Try" is the operative word here....most years it doesn't happen :-) But this year it will, since I pulled a top out of the to-be-quilted pile and got to work.
First thing I needed to do was to lay out and layer the quilt sandwich: backing, batting and quilt top.
This quilt is almost queen-sized, so I needed to piece the backing fabric. I don't worry about the seam down the middle, and whether or not it is strong enough. The quilt will be held together with enough machine quilting, and I've yet to have a seam pop, even on those "couch quilts" that get used a lot.  Since my basement floor has a commercial-grade, low-pile carpet, I just pin the backing to the carpet with straight pins, making sure it is stretched taut.

My batting of choice is 100% cotton. Though I usually use Warm and Natural, this Mountain Mist cotton batting was on sale so I thought I'd give it a try. Not much different from the W & N, in my opinion.

When laying out the batting over the backing fabric, I take my time to smooth out all the wrinkles. It's wonderful how the cotton batting "sticks" to the cotton fabric.

Since I had that center seam running vertically on my backing fabric, I used that as a guide for laying out the quilt top by folding the top in half vertically and laying it along that seam. Though I can't see the seam through the batting, I can feel it with my fingers. As you can see, there is plenty of extra backing and batting extending past the quilt top. There will be a little bit of shrinkage with the quilting, and I don't want to be short. This particular project has a little too much and when done pinning I will trim off the extra, leaving about 4 inches extra all the way around.

Now it's time to get out the large square ruler to be sure the corners are square. I make sure and check each of the four corners, both at the pieced border and the outside border edge.

Now the fun begins, pin-basting the 3 layers together. I used approximately 350 small safety pins for this project. The Kwik Klip shown below can make it easier on your fingers, but to be honest I rarely use it.

The pins are placed about 4-6 inches apart over the entire quilt. A good measurement is a fist-length apart. I don't do very much marking on my quilt top for quilting design, but this is the point
when I start to think about how I will machine quilt. Since this is a sampler of quilt blocks from a guild exchange, I know I will quilt in the ditch around the squares to start. Therefore, I don't place any pins in the ditch areas.

Time for the glamour shots! Really, this is what it looks like for a couple of hours while I place those hundreds of pins. I really don't enjoy this too much, but for a quilt this size this is what works for me. Sometimes I'll use a quilt basting spray, but only for small projects. I don't like the aerosol, I don't like the cost, and it only seems to stick for a short time.

Whew! The basting is finished, off to the machine to quilt! I'm so happy that this project will be finished for the holidays this year!