Category : art=craft

CircleSquares

So I‘m making have made another quilt!

After lurking around Cluck Cluck Sew for a few months, ogling pretty quilts, I landed on the Raw Edge Circle Quilt Tutorial and thought Im going to make that for the Munchkin.

Two things attracted me to this quilt; first the colours, which those who know me will recognize as some of my favourites, and second that it looked non-fiddly enough that I might actually get it done before he leaves home.

I spent some time perusing my favourite online fabric stores, bought much more than I’d need for this quilt (gotta build the stash somehow…) and got started.

I won’t bore you with every single step, just know that it involved doing this about 35 times.

(I say “about” 35 times because I did a few extra, just in case.)

After quartering all those squares I ended up with this

which I then had to arrange into a quilt-like composition, like so;

all the while attempting a reasonable distribution of different colours and tones and pattern types.

The day I did the layout, I didn’t quite finish before the wee beastie awoke from his nap, upon which I blame the fact that there are a few places with matching fabrics touching each other. Oops. I didn’t even notice until I had the front all sewn together (another logistical joy, keeping all those pieces in order), and I sure as hell wasn’t going to redo it then. He’ll just have to live with it. Hopefully it won’t shatter him to discover at an early age that mommy isn’t perfect.

I wanted this to be a cosy warm quilt, not just a pretty throw, so I went with Thinsulate for the batting, and tufting instead of real quilting to keep it nice and lofty. (I used leftover variegated green sock yarn that a certain someone should recognize.) I never think far enough ahead to plan the binding, but luckily I had some green fabric that I think works well, helping balance out the warmth of all the oranges and browns.

For the backing (also not planned ahead of time) I picked out some fun flannels at the local fabric & craft store, and ended up with this:

I love it, but the little boy hasn’t exactly warmed up to it yet. This may have to do with the fact that he is quite opposed to the use of blankets in general, and for himself in particular. But I don’t mind. I figure we’ll just keep it around so it insinuates into his subconscious, and by the time he leaves home he won’t be able to imagine not having it.

See, I do plan ahead after all.


New Year Bunnies

Once again, Chinese New Year is here, which means another set of CNY prints. This being the Year of the Rabbit, the cards feature a wee family of the critters.

I started several weeks ago with this very loose little sketch,

mulled it over in my head for a while and came up with this as the final product:

Cute, sure, but I have to say that It would have been more complex if I’d been able to take more time for it. As it was I chose the ease and speed of lino (well, Speedcut block to be precise) printing again, and a simple design, just not feeling up to anything more labour-intensive.

When I started this series my goal was to use it to spur myself to learn more print techniques and develop as an artist. I definitely did that in the Year of the Ox, and though I wasn’t terribly challenged by the Year of the Tiger print, it did at least push what I’d done in that particular medium.

This year, however, I felt like it would have to be enough just to get it done. Heck, I even managed it more or less on time. But I sincerely hope that by next CNY I’ll be feeling a little more in control of my time, a little less overwhelmed by just getting through each day, let alone trying to be a better artist.

So here’s hoping for a peaceful bunny of a year, with time to recover from the Tiger.


Knitterlings

The chill of fall has slunk in upon us like a damp sheep, the scent of woodsmoke wafts teasingly through the air, and I find myself frequently awake in the wee hours with nothing to do: it must be time for holiday knitting!

To that effect, I have rounded up a nice little stashling of wool and other fibres. Witness:
What will it be???

What’s that you say? Plastic in the way? Yes yes, I know. One does prefer to see a sumptuous pile of yarn in its bare-bunned beauty, but I was too impatient to sort it into tidily Ziploc-ed projects, forgetting to take the yarn pron picture first, and I sure as heck wasn’t gonna desort it all just for that. So we’ll all just have to wait until it’s assembled into lovely mitts and hats and scarves and other mysterious objets de tricotage.

Then, my pretties, then we’ll see the full glory of the Misti Merino and Drops Alpaca and Noro Silk Garden Chunky Oh My!!

Assuming of course that my wrists aren’t too shot by then to hold the camera upright. But that’s what the Xena cuffs are for…


Going to the Other Side

So, I’m semi-determined to learn how to knit continental. That’s where you hold the yarn in your left hand instead of right, and “pick” to form stitches instead of “throwing.” It’s significantly faster, involving less finger movement, possibly easier on the hands as well and apparently (i.e. according to something I read once somewhere on the internet) only fell out of favour in North America around the time of WWII because knitting British style was somehow more patriotic. True? False? Who knows.

Of course, re-teaching my fingers how to hold and move yarn after 30-ish years of doing it one way is taking some work so for now it’s actually slower. So why bother? Well, aside from being faster, it’s very useful to know both methods when doing colour work, as you can hold one colour in each hand, and I’ve been getting a serious urge to knit the Fiddlehead Mittens that so many are having fun with on Ravelry.

So my practice WIP is this fun little top-down raglan shrug I’m making for myself (I know it doesn’t look like a shrug yet – be patient, you’ll see in the end). It’s a pretty basic pattern (well, formula really, more than pattern), helpfully busting up a few loitering single balls in my stash, and should be a nice comfy cosy thing in the winter since it avoids the whole ever-expanding-belly area.

Snowy

Also I made these fun little cuffs to practice the one-colour-in-each-hand thing. They’re a little silly, but good for keeping my wrists warm while knitting (helps keep them from getting sore). The OH did make a Xena reference when he first saw them, but I’m choosing to just ignore that… (I wanted to show them one on each wrist rather than stacked, but try taking that picture without growing a third arm, or setting up annoying equipment, both unappealing options this afternoon.)
NOT xena

Today it’s chilly outside; fall is here, let’s hear it for silly cosy things…


A (very) modest amount of progress

Remember how I got those awesome fabric swatches to make into a little quilt? Well they’ve been quartered, and I found a sheet that, while not exactly matching, I figure makes a good accent/trim/reverse for it anyways and today I present to you the layout (forgive the bad photo; I promise to take good pictures when it’s done):
Ye Quilte Layoute

Though looking at it now I believe I’ll need to rotate the squares with the light blue background and squiggly green + black flourishes and white florally things. You know the one I mean. I didn’t notice close up but the directional elements are definitely misaligned to the other squares.

So the plan is light green 1.5″ strips between all the squares, 2″ edging, solid back (the sheet is folded in half in the photo, for those of you who think I’ve skipped an area calculation groove). I still have to find a blanket to fill it with. I think for the quilting I’m going to go with the old fashioned little knots of yarn at intersections or corners or square centres or some combination thereof. Given my lack of a long-arm machine, and my unwillingness to do serious quilting by hand, this seems like the most achievable option. Of course who knows what I might not do when February cabin fever/nesting madness hits…


Fecundity

Finally my sunflowers are starting to bloom! I desperately want to cut some for home, but there are only a few really open so far and the bees are enjoying them so much that I just can’t take them away.
bee x1beesx2beesx3

On the walk home I started noticing all sorts of white flowers…
white cosmoswhite feverfewwhite alyssumwhite hibiscus
white morning glorywhite floxwhite snapdragonwhite lily
There are also a lot of yellow and orange flowers out now (sunflowers and rudbeckia most notably). I suppose there must be some white-loving and yellow/orange-loving pollinators in full swing about now.

Then there’s this guy/gal, waiting on the porch (just above the railing to which I lock my bike) for food to deliver itself:
Waiting
5 points if you can identify this little lovely’s taxonomy.

In crafty news, I stopped by MacFab yesterday and after dutifully gathering together a bunch of zippers for UTW, was ambushed by a bin full of samples from discontinued decorating fabrics (you know, that gorgeous Amy Butler type stuff). Now surely you know that it’s nearly impossible to pass up the potential of this sort of bin, so naturally I started rifling through it and, while I did manage to exercise some pretty impressive self restraint, I picked out a few great pieces.
Future Quilt
The plan is to quarter each piece (they’re about 18″ sq. as is) and make a very simple quilt for the Expected One. I figure there’s a nice mix of high contrast stuff for early visual stimulation, plus some more subtle colours for continued interest well past the B&W stage. (Funny how companies are still making all pastel mobiles – and then plonk the little thing in a room with a white ceiling…) I’ll go to VV to see if I can’t find a decent condition sheet (or other plain fabric) for the edge and backing, and hopefully a thin wool blanket for the innards.

I also visited Romni (as how could I not, being already down on Queen W and a hopeless addict) and foraged in the basement for some sale skeins. I did find a few things, but unfortunately none of them match any of the projects on my developing holiday-knitting list. (And of course visiting the website now I realize that by resisting going there during July I missed their 20% off everything sale… curses!) So into the stash it goes. I really do need to take a list when I go there, or else start planning projects based on what I’ve got in the stash already instead of what makes me go “Oooh!” when I see it online.

But why start being wise now…


A-Foraging I Go!

I really am a forager. I just can’t help peeking at every pile of belongings (not garbage, mind you) placed on the sidewalk, just beyond ownership of the nearest house. It’s a step below yard sales, but even cheaper (i.e. free!) and you just never know when someone has discarded something that is no longer of any use to them, but fits some little gap in one’s own life just so.

For instance: last spring I found a foot stool in the IKEA Poäng style, just a couple of months after I bought my Poäng chair. It needed a new cushion, but I had foam and fabric so voila! new cushion for “new” foot stool:
Poang!

Then a few months later someone was tossing out some pieces from an Ivar shelving unit. I was seriously in need of something to hide some boxes of event detritus that were befouling my living room, so with the judicious application of some fabric pieces from my stash, I turning the side pieces into a concealing screen (a little funky, yes, but effective). Comme ça:
Hide it!

With summer once again in full swing (despite the lack of hot summery weather), and a moving frenzy coming up soon, there’s lots of stuff up for grabs again. Yesterday I found this little wooden sled:
Wooden Sled
I know, super cute, right? Now, this may be used to pull around a small child, or groceries in the dead of winter, or it may just end up being something fun to set plants on, but at least it’s not rotting in a landfill.

Today was this plant-watering bulb:
Blub
I love those, but would never go out of my way to buy one, having so many more pressing things to spend my scarce income on like, say, rent and food.

Now, it’s not as though I head out purposely to bring home other peoples’ trash (and I’m certainly not going about rooting through anyone’s garbage bins). I mean, I don’t really think of myself as needing more stuff, nor am I trying to deal with the garbage strike by hoarding everyone’s disposed items. It’s just that I can’t help but be curious about what people are getting rid of, and I think I have a pretty good knack for sensing potential in objects that have outlived their usefulness in others’ eyes.

Although apparently any object left on city property (e.g. the sidewalk) becomes city property, so technically I suppose I’m a thief. Though what the city would want with an old Ivar shelving piece I can’t imagine; it’s really meant to apply to people who go around scavenging metal to sell for recycling.

So next time you see the unsold stuff from someone’s yard sale or leftovers from moving day set at the side of the road, have a look! You just might find the very thing you’ve been missing.


Bring back the 70’s!

Well, I do believe I have found an excellent toy! Poladroid has got to be one of the easiest and funniest (just like the website says!) apps I’ve found recently.

We all know that Polaroid look, right? Those saturated-yet-smoushy colours that even though they’re not quite right, look awesome instead of sickly, the slight vignetting of the edges, the feeling of carefree summer days in a white plastic frame? Well this thing’s got it all, just a drag-and-drop away.

I took this (which by the way is the orange sweater I started in January and of which I just realized I haven’t until now posted a finished pic):

Orange DoneAnd made this:Orange Pola

There are basic controls such as how much vignetting, flash effect, and blur so you can determine just how “Polaroid” you want to go. It’s a free beta right now (donations accepted, of course) but it looks like there will be a Pro version at some point.

Maybe it’s a little gimmicky, but given the rarity and expense of real Polaroid cameras & film (though luckily it looks like thanks to “an eccentric Austrian artist and businessman” the Impossible Project has bought up the Polaroid factory in the Netherlands and will be making SX-70 & 600 style film again), and that we’ve all got digital cameras these days for that instant satisfaction, I think it’s well worth the couple of minutes to download and, heck, I may even make a donation if I use it a bunch.

Oh, and it even makes that g-zhzhhzhzh sound and makes you wait a few minutes as the image “develops”. Very clever, I must say.


The Afghan’s Progress

In the interest of demonstrating that I have indeed been knitting, an update on the wedding afghan.

I’m very nearly 5/8 finished:
five-eighths
I say very nearly, because you see that little gap between the needles and the lighter section? I got to within two rows and binding off of completing that this evening when my yarn ran out. That’s right, two ginormous skeins were 72 stitches shy of being precisely the right amount for that piece.

so close and yet

Now this would not really be anything more than a curiosity, perhaps eliciting a slight “hrmph” under the breath, if not for the fact that the remaining skeins have not been wound, and I still don’t have a ball winder. And even though, yes, I have to wind them for the next section anyways, somehow it still FEELS like I have to wind them (by hand, natch) just for those last 72 stitches. Those last 72 stitches that might not have existed if my tension were a little more accurate, or some other impossible variance.

Speaking of tension, I’m predicting some very creative manoeuvering to match up the various edges when it comes time to assemble the squishy beast, as my lengthwise and width wise measurements do not seem to agree on the proper distribution of stitches between them. Therefore I am thankful in advance for the manipulable and forgiving nature of wool, and the miracles achievable with blocking.

And I’m just loving the Cascade Ecological Wool; the colours are so soothing and harmonious, the natural lanolin makes it feel like lotion and smell like, well, sheep I suppose; but very clean sheep that have just been bathed in a cool fresh stream and air dried in a sunny hayfield, not the dank wet ones that have been trudging about in the fog through musty undergrowth and fetid mud all day.
And it’s pretty too, especially nestled in the basket with the bamboo needles for some pleasing visual contrast.
woolicious

There’s a decent chance I’ll get the last piece finished before the wedding (i.e. in the next two weeks) with reminders from a certain friend, and assuming my stiff left thumb & index finger don’t rebel. But then the pieces still have to be crocheted together, and the i-cord binding applied to the outer rim, and of course the aforementioned blocking which will require one good solid sunny day on the deck. So all in all, I think it highly, nay maximally improbable that it will actually be completed when the happy betrothal occurs.

That said, what do you think? Should I knit a tiny little version, say seat cushion size and present it with explanatory note? Or a photo of the nearly-finished object? Perhaps just a mysterious promise of forthcoming warm coziness? What does protocol demand in this situation?


In Soviet Russia, wool plays with cat.

I’ve decided to make EZ’s Garter Stitch Afghan as a wedding gift (for my stepsister who hopefully isn’t reading this or who will look no further if she is…) and I picked up the yarn today.

I’m going with Cascade Eco Wool (because it just looks so darned sexy on Brooklyn Tweed, and I didn’t have to promise my first born to leave Romni with it), and it looks and feels as squishy in person as on screen but, dude, huge skeins – HUGE. 250g/437m each. And me having forgotten to buy a ball winder while I was there drooling over yarn.

So, being the impatient let’s-get-on-with-it person that I am, I wanted to try a swatch to check gauge and my planned colour combo, which required winding a skein.

15 minutes and two sore wrists later, I have one 7″ ball of yarn.

EcoWool1

To really grasp the scale here, consider that the very fluffy fat cat weighs in at about 13 lbs.

EcoWoolPye

The sad part is, if I want the first ginormous ball to be worthwhile, I have to wind another in the other colour, which I will do, by hand, because I am just that impatient and foolish. But for the 6 skeins after that? I’m definitely waiting until I’ve gotten a ball winder.