Thursday, February 28, 2008

Support Your Local Library

stack of books

I stopped at the library to return a book last Friday and left with some serious obstacles to my crafting time. It started innocently enough. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book Knitting Rules! was recently mentioned on the Sockknitters list, so I went to the knitting books to satisfy my curiosity. While there I noticed "Compassionate Knitting". I had to check that one out to satisfy my charity crafting curiosity. Then I saw "Wendy Knits". Yes, a book from Wendy from I've used one of her sock patterns, so I need to read her book.

I'm holding 3 knitting books and thinking, "Gee, my reading is getting very knit-centric. What about quilting and crochet?" I head to the new books section and find the " Guide to Quilting" and "Kooky Crochet". A couple of shelves away I spied "500 Ideas for Small Spaces." I want to move to a smaller house and let a larger family heat/cool this monster house, so ideas for small spaces are good. So 6 books came home with me last Friday.

stack of books

I'm responsible for two 10-year-old websites, Handcrafting with Love and the site for our KC Project Linus chapter. I want to update both sites for various reasons. I want to make the code standards compliant, so I went searching for a book to learn about XHTML. I found a couple in the library catalog and placed a request. I picked them up today (and returned "Kooky Crochet"). Look at the size of those books! Note to self: check the page count when selecting books online. They both look like good books.

I'm heading to my mom's this weekend, so I'm looking forward to some concentrated sockknitting time and some reading. And very little computer time.

Review: Speed Knitting: 24 Quick and Easy Projects

Looking for projects that are quick to knit? Speed Knitting: 24 Quick and Easy Projects by Kris Percival features simple designs knitted in bulky yarn. The book begins with an overview of yarns and knitting tools and ends with an overview of knitting techniques and resources with 3 chapters of patterns in between.

The patterns are divided into accessories, apparel, and gifts. Accessory patterns include a scarf, scarf and hat set, a scarf-hat (i.e. a hat with connected scarf), belt, messenger bag, wrist warmers, and mittens. Apparel includes a poncho, capelet, shrug, shawl, vest, ballet sweater, summer shift, men’s sweater, and halter. Gifts include a couch throw, pillow cover, baby shower set, dog sweater, cat mat, toddler tank top, baby blanket, and toddler tank dress.

The techniques section covers the techniques needed for the projects in the book. The instructions and illustrations remind experienced knitters how to do a technique. Novices will find too little detail in the written steps and too few illustrations to understand how to perform many of the techniques. If you are new to knitting, make sure you have a good knitting reference.

The title “Speed Knitting” intrigued me. There is a definite appeal to finishing things more quickly. However, most of the patterns are not designs I will ever make. Bulky yarn is great for making hats and an occasional afghan. But in my opinion, bulky yarn is too thick for the other types of accessories and garments I might make. Consider your own tastes before you buy this book. Better yet, borrow it from your library and take a detailed look before you decide.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Website Updates - February 24, 2008

I've been busy the last few days working on website updates. My About SusanB page has been totally redone and updated. I also made updates to Handmade for Charity updating some links that changed.

For the first time in quite a while, all of the links under Cornucopia of Quilt Links have been checked. I removed the dead links, updated links to websites that had moved and found replacements for a couple of web pages that no longer exist. Fortunately, I found a free tool called Total Validator that automatically checks all links and reports their status back to me. It also validates HTML against the standards. I downloaded the desktop version to my PC and found it easy to use. It took time to go through the results and update the web pages, but if I had to check all of the links manually, only a fraction of them would have been checked.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grand Sierra Knee Socks - A Frogging We Go

2 pattern repeats of knee sock

My Grand Sierra Knee Socks are going to be wonderful if I ever get them knitted. This is what they looked like with the ribbing and 2 pattern repeats done.

I tried them on and decided that I need more stitches. They stretched around my calf with a nice snug fit. However, the stitch pattern has drawn in the fabric more than expected and they looked over stretched. They shrunk vertically to 2½" versus 3" off my leg. That is enough vertical shrinkage to really throw off the size of my design.

Last night, I opened my spreadsheet and worked on the design to add more stitches around the calf. Then I sat down and pulled both socks off the needles and frogged them back to the ribbing. I've reknit 4 rows of the 27 I ripped out. It will take a while to knit enough to see how the fit has changed. Between the computer and other craft projects, my sock knitting progresses slowly unless I visit my mom and get away from distractions.

Earlier Post about these socks: Grand Sierra Knee Socks - Designing

Saturday, February 16, 2008

National Make a Blanket Day 2008

Snuggle Up quilt top

Today was National Make a Blanket Day. Our Project Linus chapter met from 9 am to 1 pm to make blankets. This is the Snuggle Up quilt top I made. I still need to quilt it.

Snuggle Up quilt top detail

I usually have difficulty putting more than 3 or 4 fabrics together from my stash and look at this -- 9 different fabrics. Some of the fabrics definitely would not look good next to each other, but kept separate and mixed with other fabrics they look fine. I like the way it came together and several people said they liked my fabrics.

Snuggle Up quilt top

My friend Jodie is known for using lots of bright fabrics and she liked my top. This pink, blue and white quilt top is what she stitched together this morning. Rather pastel and out of character for Jodie, but a great quilt top.

We had a good number of people attend today. We've had larger turnouts, but it is nice to not be crowded. Everyone had a great time. Fabric was stitched and cut and restitched. The twins, Louise and Lucille, timeshared a sewing machine since one forgot to bring the power cord for her machine. Blankets were tied or quilted. Labels were stitched to finished blankets. By the end of our meeting, 60 blankets were labeled, counted, and bagged ready for delivery to local hospitals. And a few more were ready for labels.

The 60-plus finished blankets includes blankets that were brought in already finished in addition to blankets we finished this morning. I arrived with 3 blankets I had made plus 2 that were ready to tie. Wanda (a.k.a., "Mom") spent the morning layering several tops with backs and stitching them ready to tie. I think they all got tied.

There was a pile of material looking for new homes. Anything not adopted was going in the trash. There really wasn't anything I was interested in. Most of it was fabric scraps, but there was also a gallon zipper bag of unfinished granny squares. Nobody wanted it. At the end of the meeting, they were trying to get things adopted. Jodie picked up the bag of granny squares and said "Susan, why don't you take these? You do such wonderful things with stuff like this."

unfinished granny squares

Then one of the twins joined the coercion and look what came home with me. I have no idea what I'm going to do with these. I have is the unfinished squares. No matching yarn to finish the gold centers and the red and blue squares are from a different game altogether. This is way different than a bunch of finished granny squares that just need to be joined into an afghan.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blanket Frenzy

Saturday is our KC Project Linus chapter's National Make a Blanket Day. Some of our blanketeers don't sew, so I'm hoping someone will tie a couple of my tops and turn them into finished blankets. I have 2 quilts ready to turn in (the first 2 shown in Finished Quilts) and the ripple afghan I showed yesterday.

I have the purple squares quilt top ready to tie. I'm preparing the Easy X quilt top with the bears for tying and I'm getting the top from the national parks panel ready to quilt. These last 2 quilt tops were featured in Quilting Report. I hope I can finish the national parks quilt and turn it in Saturday. And I still need to dig through my stash to pick fabrics and cut them for the Snuggle Up pattern we'll be making Saturday.

teal and plaid split strippy quilt

I finished this split strippy quilt top on Tuesday. The teal makes a wonderful contrast with the earth tones of the plaid. So eye catching, yet quick to make.

I'm off to do a bit of hand sewing and knitting before bedtime.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Easy Ripple Afghan Finished

Easy Ripple Afghan

Look what I finished yesterday! I will deliver this Easy Ripple Afghan to our Project Linus National Make a Blanket Day on Saturday. One more project done. Maybe this will be the year I make a dent in the accumulation of unfinished projects.

The colors were not consistent in the skeins of variegated yarn (Red Heart Super Saver, color Polo). The labels all had the same dye lot number, but some skeins had more green than others. By the time I noticed the difference, I had way too much of the afghan done to consider doing something else. The finished afghan is 40 by 51 inches and used about 27 ounces of variegated and 4.5 ounces of gold.

Previous post: Easy Ripple Afghan in Progress

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Free Pattern - Waffle-Weave Cap

waffle-weave cap with turn-up brim waffle-weave cap without turn-up brim

The Waffle-Weave Cap is quick to knit and great for gifts and charity projects. This free pattern is available in 2 versions, one version for knitters who prefer to knit a flat piece and sew a seam and a second version for those who like to knit in the round.

Whichever way you choose to knit your cap, you can make it with a turned up brim, like the terra cotta cap or without a turned up brim like the red cap. 3 ounces of your favorite worsted weight yarn will make either version of the cap. Go to the craft patterns page on my website and get the instructions.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hats for Charity - The January 5

A few of us knit and/or crochet hats for our local AT&T TeleCom Pioneers chapter. It started as a Caps for Kids project over a decade ago and now the caps go directly to City Union Mission. I've finished 5 hats/caps this year toward my goal of 48 hats.

knit cap in variegated yarn with solid brim

This cap was knitted from the top to the brim. I had a partial skein of variegated yarn and I wanted to use as much of it as I could. I hid the change to the solid avocado under the brim.

striped crochet cap

I call this a cap of many colors. I probably had less than 2 ounces of black and combined that with leftover bits of other colors to make a striped hat. I call the pattern a Formula Hat. I've yet to write down the pattern, but with the basic formula you can make a hats with different yarns and in different sizes.

spiral skull cap

This is a Spiral Skull Cap. It's half double crochet with front and back post double crochet. I used a wee bit of the varigated left from the knit cap above at the top and then switched to the avocado. This is an unpublished pattern I've made for a few years for charity. It's pretty quick to make.

striped crochet cap

I added some terra cotta and brown to the last of the avocado and made another striped Formula Hat. I used every last bit of those yarns.

knit cap with seed stitch band

This is another cap that I knit top down. I wasn't sure how far the light coral would go, but I knew I had plenty of the light coral and orange combined. I added a band of seed stitch to add some interest.

The contents of the drawer below have inspired me to make these scrappy hats. I have other yarn to make hats, but I'm in a bit of a clutter clearing mode right now.

yarn balls

Friday, February 08, 2008

Elvis Quilts

Whether you love Elvis or just love quilts, take a look at Big Horn Quilts' Elvis Presley Challenge 2008. You can help pick the challenge winner. Follow the instructions just above the quilt pictures on the Elvis Challenge page and vote before February 15.

Big Horn Quilts had large quantity of Elvis fabric that they describe as "really awful" and it wasn't selling. So they challenged customers to create a quilt using any Elvis Presley song for the theme. The Elvis fabric could be used on the back. They received 39 entries and couldn't decide on a winner.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mom's Birthday Socks - Finished!

Mom's birthday socks - side view Mom's birthday socks - front view Mom's birthday socks - flat view

My mom's birthday socks are finished. I drove down to Springfield Saturday afternoon and spent a couple of days with her. While I was there, she tried both socks on. She was happy with the fit, so I used a sewn cast-off and finished the socks.

The pattern is based on the Fingering Weight Toe-Up Socks with Gusset and Slip-Stitch Heel from Wendy Knits' Free Patterns, Help, and Other Stuff page. I increased the number of stitches, added a rib stitch pattern and made the gusset bigger. I subsituted Cat Bordhi's "Turned Toe" from Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and used the magic cast-on.

Previous posts: Mom's Birthday Socks - Progress, Mom's Birthday Socks.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Finished Quilts

I've finished 3 quilts this week, 2 child size quilts for Project Linus and a twin-bed sized quilt. All 3 are projects started long ago.

Big Star quilt

I pieced this Big Star quilt for a sample for our National Make a Blanket Day 2 years ago. I finished the quilt with needlepunched batting and echoed the lines of the star with the quilting. The pattern is available on my website. Look under Craft Patterns.

mile-a-minute quilt

Next I quilted this Mile-a-Minute quilt top. You may recall that I recently finished piecing this top, but I started in July 2006. (See Mile-A-Minute Quilt Top #1 Finished!) I used a needlepunched batting and quilted diagonal lines through the blocks.

9 patch quilt

Last, but not least, is this twin-bed sized 9 patch quilt. The above photo shows half the quilt. The blocks were made shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With retirement imminent, I told the Quilts from Cornerstone group that if they made 9 patch blocks, I would finish a quilt for hurricane survivors. There were enough blocks for a queen-size and a twin-size quilt. The queen-size quilt was finished in 2006 and the twin-size sat unfinished for months between bursts of stitching on it.

9 patch quilt detail

At our final Quilts from Cornerstone meeting last May, Jeanine took the top, batting, and backing to quilt on her quilting machine. She quickly accomplished that, but intermediaries failed to return the unbound quilt to me until September. I was piecing the Lone Star quilt for my niece's wedding gift (another UFO to be finished), so the twin-size 9 patch again sat patiently waiting to be finished.

machine finished quilt binding

While my favorite sewing machine was vacationing at the spa, I stitched the cut edges of the binding to the quilt with another machine, but waited for my favorite to come home to stitch the folded edge of the binding down on the front of the quilt. I use the patchwork stitch on my Memory Craft 8000 when I finish binding by machine. Today, I finished the binding. Now I need to find a home for both the twin and queen-sized 9 patch quilts.

Click on any picture for a larger view.