Monday, 19 June 2017

May's yarny happenings

Hello there!
We are just back from a short break away and I have a lot to share with you all! Better start with what else I got up to in May...Apart from making sure the Minions were ready on time and putting some stitches into The Wave I managed to squeeze in a few yarny projects. First off I finished knitting Hubbie's Star Trek gloves...



Now I just need to sew some conductive thread (I got mine here ) into the finger tips to make them touch screen compatible and they will be totally finished. I must admit this hit the back burner as the week I completed them a lovely spell of warm summer weather arrived!! Also I got a little distracted by this ball of loveliness that arrived through the mail...


It's a Crazy Zauberball by Schoppel Wolle from the lovely folks at Wool Warehouse and I was totally captivated by it. I snapped a quick pic of it on my phone & then divided it in half... 


Now I already had a pair of socks on the go so I should have been leaving this alone until they were finished but somehow within a few hours of it arriving I found myself casting on... The colorway is 1702 Kleiner Fuchs which is German for Little Fox and the pattern I wanted to try is the Magic Zauberball Stripe Socks pattern. I just couldn't leave these alone, I fell totally in love with the yarn (another new favorite sock yarn!) both in terms of its feel and the colors. Oh the colors!!!!!!  They are so vibrant and jewel like in this colorway - I think I will need to try some other colorways to check if this is common across zauberballs ;-). It is a long gradient yarn constructed with two different colored plies spun together which produces a beautiful mottled effect in the final fabric...


In this photo you can see basically how this sock pattern works - you knit stripes alternating between the two balls you got by splitting your original ball in half. Very simple but oh so effective!! It was quite magical watching the colors unfold and play together. I used a short row heel (great tutorial here) so as to keep the stripes going with as little interruption as possible. I think now I've done a few of these heels I actually find them easier & quicker to work than the heel flap/gusset decreases method, and am now wondering why that method is more commonly used?! So even though I was trying to put these down and work on things I was meant to be doing instead pretty soon I ended up with a new pair of socks! 


I had enough yarn left over to work in with a solid on another pair of socks but so far I have resisted starting them... I must be good - at least until I finish that other pair of socks which were neglected while I had fun with these!
On the subject of "being good" I finished joining all the squares that were already made for Ebee's Flower Square Blanket.... 


I am so enjoying the decorative join on this!


With almost half the blanket completed I gave myself permission to start a Hydrangea Blanket and worked up and down these gorgeous stripes most of the month...


As you can see I have decided to work my stripes in a totally different order to Lucy's beautiful blanket. I loved the photos in Lucy's post where the colors were arranged in a wheel and my first thought was to pick a starting point and then work continuously around the wheel. As I finished my first complete circuit of the wheel Hubbie suggested mirroring them instead, ie go once around the wheel, stop, go back all the way round in the opposite direction, stop, repeat. I loved this idea and here you can see I am just starting the fourth repeat...


The pattern is simple but very soothing to work, lovely long stripes of gentle, soft colors that result in a beautiful squooshie texture. Yup, you guessed it! My new favorite blanket pattern! Partly inspired by this meme I am being good and sewing in the ends every five or six stripes...


Forcing myself to stop and do them in small bunches will pay dividends later when I'm not faced by a whole blanketful! I am planning on doing six repeats of all the colors to get a similar sized blanket to Lucy's and I am part way up the fifth one now. I am saving the rest of this to do as my Wimbledon project when that starts in a couple of weeks and am back to making squares for Ebee's Flower Square Blanket. 
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you have a lovely week whatever you are up to!















Sunday, 11 June 2017

Birthday Minions!!

Hello there!
A certain little boy celebrated his fifth birthday at the end of May - and it really doesn't seem so long ago that his Daddy was that age! When we were visiting family (and crafty stores!) in Colorado last year Hubbie spotted a big Minions fabric panel and suggested Little H would love it on his bed. I had already started collecting Minions fabric for a birthday quilt for his younger brother so that gave me all the excuse  reason I needed to buy more so I could make them a quilt each :-) I set to work when we got home & this was ready for Little C's second birthday...


Please excuse the washed out colors, these photos were taken mid November when all we really have is artificial light! The fabrics are not the usual kind of thing I go for (way too modern!) but they seemed to work well with the fun Minions prints...


The pattern, Woodland Wonderland was in a back issue of McCall's Quilting magazine and finished up 38" x 45", just the right size for a little dude to carry round & curl up under. I backed and bound it with part of a plain navy cotton sheet & quilted it with straight diagonal lines using my walking foot...


The look on Little H's face when he saw his brother open his quilt really tugged at my heart, but I knew that his own birthday would come round soon enough. I found this free pattern for the panel we had bought which only needed a little adaptation to work with the fabrics I had left... 


This quilt finished out at 57" x 65", for backing and binding I used more of the navy sheet, and I quilted it out with organic wavy lines using my walking foot again. Then the big day arrived and as he unwrapped it he spotted something familiar..." It's Minions!!!"


Then as it unfolded further "It's HUGE Minions!!!!!" he yelled!


And seeing his little excited face it was all worth while. All the weighing up fabric choices in the stores, washing and ironing fabric when we got home, fiddling around with the pattern, arranging and rearranging all the blocks just so, and the afternoon learning how to use *another* new feature on my new sewing machine in order to make a label for the back of it...




Saturday, 3 June 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - May update

Hello there!
May has been a very busy month here but I did manage to get some stitches in on The Wave, one of my 17 ufos in 2017 projects. Here is where I had gotten up to...


I have discovered as I work through The List that all these projects get abandoned for a reason. In this case it was the chart that was driving me crazy! Printed in three colors some of the symbols are very similar - like $ and S both in blue (at least print one in a different color???!) -  it was also too small for me to comfortably work from. Dear Hubbie came up with a solution. Now he is the tech wizard in this house & I'm not too exactly how he did it but he scanned the chart, made it into a pdf, and put it on my tablet so I can enlarge it to where I can comfortably read it. Oh I can also mark it off  so I can see where I've been like this...


I just tap that little speech bubble & pen icon at the bottom of the page & then use my touch pen to draw over the squares I've stitched. You can alter the opacity of the line you draw and, as you can see, I soon discovered it was easier to work from if you set it to slightly see through rather than completely obliterating the symbols! Once I could see what I was doing I got on a lot better with this stitch although I still have to concentrate on it more than most cross stitch projects which means no watching TV at the same time! This is where I am up to now....


Of the four pages I now have one completely finished and am about 30 squares up from the bottom right hand corner on the second page. Another small bugbear of mine with this is that the fabric was cut much smaller for this kit than I would've cut it myself. This means I am having issues finding a frame or hoop to comfortably work it in, especially when I want to work on the edge of the chart... grrr....  I am determined to get this finished but I'm not sure if I will continue stitching on this in June or bring out another UFO and come back to this later in the year.
Thank you for visiting me here today I hope to be back soon with some of the other projects I have been working on in May. Wishing you a wonderful and creative weekend!



Friday, 5 May 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - April update

Hello there!
Well here we are in May and it's time for the monthly update on the 17 ufos in 2017 project. April has been a productive month but not on this front! The Wave started the month looking like this...


...and now looks like this...


It came out twice all month!!! Ooops! I am *hoping* to be better this month but am still battling a pretty strong yarn addiction (more on that in my next post) plus Hubbie and I have upped the walking & cycling so I'm pretty tired come the evening & don't have the concentration to stitch. Well I guess I have made a big dent in The List so far this year so I'm not going to beat myself up too much over one bad month. I plan to get back on track in May - wish me luck!
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you have a beautiful weekend however you are spending it!  


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tales of a yarn addict

Hello there!
I hope you had a lovely Easter? I can't believe how quickly April is flying by, I'm really not sure what has happened to this month! In my last post I promised to share some yarny goodness with you because, in between the stitching, there have been a lot of yarny things going on around here too. Although cross stitch will always be my first crafty love I would truly be hard pushed to name my second. For years my answer would've been sewing. Sewing pretty much anything, whatever involved needle (hand or sewing machine), thread, and fabric. But then I bought some yarn & a crochet hook... followed a couple of years later by knitting needles... and before I really knew what was going on I had two new crafty loves! Now when we are going away I pack a crochet project for the car/flight and a knitty project along with a cross stitch project for while we're away and this is number one on the packing list way ahead of clothes or other mundane things. Anyone else relate?!
There are times where I know I really should be focusing on a certain project but the pull to work on something else is very hard to resist, and recently the "something else" has been of a yarny nature. Firstly I fell totally in love with a colorway of Stylecraft Head over Heels sock yarn which was handily in stock when we visited Nairn Wool Shop and now I can happily report it has grown into finished socks!


The pattern (Daydreamer) was a fun knit, and the yarn is the softest, squooshiest sock yarn I have yet come across. There are definitely going to be more balls of this in my future and the fact that Stylecraft have just brought out two gorgeous new colorways of it just adds to the temptation! The observant amongst you will have noticed my socks don't match, see the abrupt color change on the right toe? There was a knot in the ball which resulted a very sharp contrast, a bit of a shame but I'm not really bothered as most of the time it's hidden inside my shoe ;-) At that point I decided I didn't mind them being "odd socks" & didn't try to make the colors match on the second one, just went with the yarn as it came off the ball. I have seen matching socks made with this yarn on Ravelry so I think it's possible if that is really important to you, anyways don't let it put you off trying this yarn as it really is like wearing clouds on your feet! (I'm pretty sure it would also make an awesome scarf/ shawl/ gloves etc.)
After that I was going to be good and not buy new yarn but then Sirdar brought out Colourwheel, their answer to the current trend for cake yarns - have you seen these around? Oh. My. Gosh!!!! I only went in to my local store to ask if she would be stocking them & they had just arrived - "would you like to see them?" she asked. Ummmm YES! Most definitely! :-) The difficult part was working out which ones to leave behind! In the end I came out with three, a ball of Deep Blue Sea, a ball of Nature's Palette...


...and a ball of Follow the Rainbow (which lasted intact for a few hours until I couldn't resist it any longer and cast on!)...


This was totally addictive to knit!! The colors, the texture, the simple rhythm of the pattern = one happy & contented me.... The pattern is from Sirdar leaflet 8032 and I struggled really hard to put this down & finish the back stitch on the Spring Fairy! Anyways, Fairy got finished & I got to go back to my rainbow. When I was just over halfway through the pattern repeats I realised that I had more than half the cake left & I really wanted to use the whole thing on this project. The pattern is symmetrical, increasing after each pattern repeat up to a central point and then decreasing again so I ripped back to where the rows start decreasing & added some more pattern repeats, weighing the remaining yarn after each full repeat. I ended up adding two more increases and two more decreases but still ended up with some yarn left over at the end. I decided to add a border along the neck edge by picking up stitches with a circular needle and working a few rows until there was just enough yarn left to cast off. (Loosely three times the length of your row in case you were wondering) It's now on the blocking mats, would you like to see?


Here's a closeup of the border I added...


I have also been knitting my first pair of gloves using this pattern as a base. After all how hard can it be to make them for a large mans' hand instead of a medium female and do fingers? (Internet to the rescue, follow this link for a funny article about knitting fingers). I played with the gauge and added a thumb gusset (charted in pattern on graph paper) to increase the width across the hand and through it all, in the hopes of being able to produce two gloves the same, I have been scribbling notes like mad. To get a close but comfortable fit on the fingers I have been trying the glove on Hubbie as I go which has worked out great but meant I could only work on them when he was here so progress has been slow. But as of last night the first glove is finished...



... now to cast on the other one and reverse the thumb and finger positions. At least this time progress should be faster as I should be able to work more from my notes and not have to try them on him so often. I am writing up the modifications I made to the pattern and will add it under the free tutorials tab on here when I'm done in case anyone else is interested in making these. The yarn I'm using is Drops Fabel in black and mustard, it's a superwash sock yarn which means it should be fine to go in the washing machine when needed and also be hard wearing. It's my first time using it and so far I'm quite impressed, it's not as soft as the Stylecraft sock yarn and feels more "wooly" but it certainly stands up to being ripped back a lot! 
Even though I have really been enjoying the challenge of these gloves there are some times when you just need something more relaxing and for that (other than when the Rainbow Wrap was on the go) I have been turning to Ebee's Flower Square Blanket. You can read about the beginnings of this blanket back here but basically since then I have been gradually filling a box with squares...



Dear Daughter was home for a few days in Easter week & I managed to have around 70 squares made by then. This meant we could spread the squares out & have a play with layout ideas & joining colors. For this blanket I wanted to use a decorative join and we agreed that the Continuous Flat Braid Join would suit these squares well. There is a great tutorial available here and I tried two different yellows with a few squares but the Saffron was too bright and the Buttermilk just a bit "off" somehow? Then we went in a totally different direction...


Duck Egg Blue! Yes folks we have a winner! Unfortunately I only had one ball of it in my stash so a quick run through to Nairn on Easter Saturday to acquire more was in order. I am edging each square in it first before working the join and, using a 4mm hook, this results in a 1" band of blue between the squares. With this measurement I could finally confirm how many squares I need to make & we could finalise a layout - boy did that feel good! So this blanket will have 169 squares arranged 13 by 13 which with the decorative join and a border should come out around double bed sized. Currently I have three rows joined... 


I have given up trying to get the camera to accurately portray the colors *sigh* but this isn't too bad, the worst being the rich dark purple which looks more like navy in the above pic...
Here's a close up of the decorative join which I'm hoping will lie a bit flatter once the blanket is washed when it's finished...


Overall Daughter & I are both really happy with how this is working out, I think it's going to end up the prettiest blanket I have made to date :-) I'm going to keep adding rows until the squares I already have are used up (this will give me six rows and almost half a blanket) but then I'm going to take a little break. Partly this is because we are going away in June & I always planned to be making squares for this blanket as my travel project. It's also because I have fallen madly in love with the colors in Lucy's new Hydrangea blanket here at Attic24. I haven't made a big stripey blanket since the Mixed Stitch Stripey Blanket and have had an itch to start one for a while. But I have always had another blanket in progress and because they are generally big projects I have never succumbed to having two on the go at once. But now I probably will because these colors are just too gorgeous to resist...


And this is why I will happily admit to being a yarn addict! :-)
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you have a lovely rest of your week whatever you are up to!







Monday, 10 April 2017

All about bunnies (and a chick)

Hello there!
In my last post I mentioned that I spent a lot of March working on projects that weren't from my 17 ufo's in 2017 list so I thought before we get any further into April I should show you what I was up to! First off I restitched the other two vanishing bunnies, completely restitching this one...


...and just restitching the bunnies & the swirly bits which are now purple on this one...


This wasn't nearly as bad a job as I had been thinking it would be so I really don't know why I have been putting it off for three years! They are both free patterns & are available here and here. Then I picked two new spring smalls to stitch, first this little guy from The Snowflower Diaries....


Stitched on 28ct evenweave that I dyed with tea and coffee, I changed out the thread colors to fit in better with the other two smalls I am hanging in a group with this one. I finished it as a flat ornament using ric rac, ribbon, and fabric from my stash...


The second was Primrose Maiden designed by Laura Rimola which appeared in Just CrossStitch magazine April 2015...


I loved the way Carol from the Stitching Dreams blog finished her version here so changed the colors on my version too, stitching her dress blue as Carol had done but using yellow and white for the flowers. I stitched mine on 14ct rustico aida with DMC threads and finished it as a flat ornament with ric rac, ribbon, and fabric from my stash...


I chose these two designs to hang with Hop, a Lizzie Kate design I finished last year... 


On a somewhat larger scale I also finished the Peek-a-boo Bunnies from the March/April 17 Quiltmaker magazine. I just couldn't resist these bunnies! They jumped straight out of the magazine at me on my first look through it, and, although another applique project wasn't really on my timetable right now, I started pulling fabrics within a few hours of first spotting them! I made a few changes to this project compared to how it appeared in the magazine, the main change being using regular quilting cottons rather than wools and flannels (I don't have much in the way of those fabrics in my stash although I would like to do some wool applique at some point). I decided not to applique the bunnies' eyes but to use black buttons instead, and I made one long stitch for each whisker instead of stem stitching them. I thought they looked more like whiskers stitched this way &, as it is for hanging on the wall rather than using on a bed, I think they will be fine like this. When it came to the quilting I followed the suggestions in the magazine, echo quilting round the bunnies...

...  free motioning in the first border, using my walking foot to crosshatch the square patches in the second border, and free motion stippling the outer border...

They finished up around 35" square which fits nicely on the wall outside the kitchen and brightens up this part of the hall. I really had a lot of fun sewing this, in fact I might've been a tad addicted ;-) it only took me 13 days from buying the magazine to hanging them on the wall!


I have also been working on some yarny projects but I will save those for my next post. I hope you have a lovely Easter week whatever you are up to!


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - March update

Hello there!
It's time for the March update on the 17 ufo's in 2017 project. Please follow the linky button at the bottom of Meredithe's post to go see everyone's progress!
Having been "good" in January and February and (for the most part) kept my focus firmly on the ufo's, March was a month where other projects took center stage. I really wasn't sure I was going to have much progress to share with you at all on The List! But much as I was enjoying some little spring stitches I also really wanted to get a finish on Spring Fairy while it was still Spring! So after restitching the vanishing bunnies I allowed myself two other small stitches and then went back to the Fairy. (I will share these little stitches with you next post). It was worth it because..... finally I have a finish!!!! The colors aren't showing up well this morning but would you like to see??


Apart from the week of backstitch (!) I have enjoyed stitching her & the backstitch is worth it because it brings all the little details to life. The little snails and ladybirds...


...her face, and the little bunnies & birds...


The design is by Joan Elliott and I stitched her on 28 ct cream evenweave with the listed DMC and Kreinik colours. I made one change when it came to adding the beads and used some raspberry beads from my stash for the details on her wings and the swirls. I don't know if this was my plan to begin with? (One of the disadvantages of having a project hanging around 3 years!) But the charted beads were the pearly white ones also in her hair & skirt & there was no way they would show up against my choice of fabric in those swirls. So she has three colors of beads instead of just two and I'm going with "this was an intentional design element" rather than pure luck as the raspberry beads were in the bag with the other two colors! ;-) Anyways, she is finished - happy dance!!!!! She took a bath this morning & I will leave her to dry for three or four days to make sure she's totally dry inside all those beads before I frame her.
So for April I'm getting out my oldest UFO and number 12 on The List - The Wave designed by Jim Warren. This is where it had been left...


I can't even remember the last time I worked on this, but I don't think it has been out in the last couple years as I tend to want to pick it up in the summer & the last few years I have been busy stitching wedding samplers in June & July! I will keep you posted as to how I get on... 
Wishing you a happy and creative week what ever you are up to!



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Seasonal stitches

Hello there!
Well here we are on another windy, rainy March morning and before I go back to the sewing room I thought I would share a few recent projects with you. None of these are from The List, but are (mostly) part of the bigger project of making seasonal decorations. My aim is to have a table runner & wall hanging for the kitchen and cross stitched smalls for the front room for each month of the year, so after finishing the January Snowman I went looking for wall hanging ideas for February. I found a beautiful free pattern available on the Janome site here and started pulling fabrics. The project finished a bit bigger than I wanted so when I printed the pattern out I only enlarged it by 200% instead of 225%. It was only later that I joined the dots and realised I had made life harder for myself - by making all the pieces smaller all those beautiful flowing curves were smaller and tighter and how on earth was I going to applique them without ruining those tapered points???? So I played with settings on my new sewing machine (did I mention it has A Lot?!!!) and practised and looked at projects online and worried some more and practised some more... In the end I decided I needed to do some of the bits I felt I could tackle so I made a start satin stitching the hearts. Then I blanket stitched the flowers and then the swirls inside the hearts. Finally I decided to use the raw edge applique technique for all the remaining pieces. I am not a fan of the messy, frayed look that often results from just straight stitching round a shape but as this will never go near the washing machine I am hoping it won't fray much and I had to get this done before it got put aside & became a UFO... Once the applique was all finished and the borders were on I decided to try echo quilting rather than free motioning round the shapes. This technique had seemed way beyond me when using the walking foot on my old machine, I don't know if it was because it was a cheaper generic foot or because it was an old machine but it didn't walk so much as jumped like a grasshopper and it was kinda nerve racking to use! The first time I put the walking foot on my new machine - wow!!! It walks like an old man with a zimmer frame! Very unthreatening and for me it opened up a whole host of possibilities for trying quilting ideas I'd seen but discounted in the past. Anyways... echo quilting... how did I get on?? I love it!!!! :-) I actually enjoyed the quilting process on a project for the first time!! I added some jewel like heart shaped buttons for the flower centers and am really happy with the result :-)



I did vow to have a break from applique projects after I finished this but then I fell fast and hard for a project in the current Quiltmaker magazine which I discovered in WHSmiths on Wednesday so last week this started happening...


I have also been fitting in some cross stitch (head is behaving much better thank you :-)) and completed the last in the set of 2004 Cross Stitcher's Surprise Series from Rainbow Gallery. Stitched on 14 count cream aida with DMC colors and finished with button, fabric, & ribbon from my stash...


Next on the cross stitch list is a restitching job. Some of you may remember the three little bunny pillows I stitched way back here? Three years ago now! They have become known round here as the "vanishing bunnies" because as soon as you back away from them they disappear (!) and each spring I take them out and think "oh I really must do something about these!!". Well this year I decided they weren't going up until they were sorted so I unpicked and unstuffed the wee pillow & then unpicked the bunny and the flowers around him. I chose much stronger solid colors to restitch him and voila!


He vanishes no longer!!! I am working on the other two now...
There has also been some knitting going on because the day after I finished the Hermione scarf Hubbie and I took a day trip which just happened to involve a visit to Nairn Wool Shop. This is about 30 miles from us so I don't go that often but I just love it when I do! She has a great selection & very friendly staff and I was only going with the intent to squish some yarn and make future plans but a ball of Stylecraft Head Over Heels jumped in my bag... It is sooooo soft and I couldn't resist the colors....


It's a beautiful pattern called Daydreamer which came in a supplement with a knitting magazine last year or you can buy it direct from the designer here. It's the first time I have tried a lace pattern on a sock but it's a nice simple one & I'm really enjoying it. I have one sock done and am working on the other one now, I don't have sock blockers so for you to see the lace pattern you have to see the sock on my foot...

 

Well I hope you are enjoying March, whether it is bringing you warmer days as Spring approaches or cooler ones as you head into Autumn. The first true daffodils are starting to bloom around here and there are buds on trees and shrubs, everything is starting to wake after it's winter slumber. Yesterday I didn't even need mittens or a scarf when we went for our walk! It is time to make a start on tidying up the garden and getting ready for a new season out there (although that might wait till tomorrow as the wind is howling down the chimney and throwing the rain against the window right now!). Wishing you a lovely week whatever you are up to :-)