Tuesday, October 30, 2012


One of the items on my agenda this fall was to make a hat out of some beautiful plum-colored handspun 2-ply I made a few years ago.  A couple of weeks ago I spent some time perusing the hat patterns on Ravelry, and had just about decided on Tears of Bronze by Po Lena.  Then Evelyn reminded me of the Hinagiku Hat pattern that had been in my Ravelry library for a couple of years, and I realized it was exactly the kind of textured pattern I'd been wanting for this yarn.  So I made one.

This is such a great pattern; I highly recommend it.  Very well-written and easy to follow.  It even includes a couple photos showing how to do the daisy stitch, so I think it's beginner-friendly. 

The hat is a beanie with just the right amount of slouch.  The twisted rib is wide, to cover your ears.  And just look at that texture!

I won't lie - working the daisy stitch every other row is time consuming.  But I think there's a big pay-off.  I wouldn't hesitate to knit this again in another color.

The crown is decreased quickly, to give that gathered look at the top:

A very satisfying project.  And one of the best parts is, I still haven enough yarn left over to make some matching mitts!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A big improvement.

Today's FO is a feat not of engineering or workmanship, but of overcoming lethargy.  I finally made a needle case for my DPNs.

I know, it's kind of ridiculous for someone who has been knitting for 40 years to not have made one of these sooner.  What can I say?  Pure laziness.

Previously, most of my DPNs were housed in a felted knit pouch, along with my crochet hooks, short circular needles and stitch holders.  Every time I wanted a set of DPNs, I'd have to take everything out of the pouch and dig through them all.

Much emptier now!

And as you can imagine, since the fabric is felted knit, the needles were always poking through.

Since I've been making a lot of mitts lately, I've been having to dig out the DPNs, and it finally got to me.  This morning Hubby had to go to a workshop, so I took the opportunity to round up some scrap fabric and make my needle case.

Now, as far as needle cases go, this one is nothing special.  And if you look closely, you'll see a lot of wonky stitching, since I'm still trying to figure out Mags' tension settings.  But it gets the job done, and it only took me an hour to make.

I stitched channels for the needles, and also for the fold lines to keep things neat.

Recognize these fabrics?

Even though it's not perfect, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and I'm sure I'll be very happy next time I need to get out a set of DPNs.  I'll need to make at least one more of these, and I  know some of you knitters are looking for easy projects to get started with sewing.  So if anyone wants me to document my next one and do a little tutorial, let me know!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

For Mom

Over the weekend, my mom reminded me that I had promised her a "winter outfit" for her Nook after I made her the floral one over the summer.  On Tuesday I was able to make it to JoAnn's to pick out some fabrics and get the rest of my supplies, and yesterday I sewed it together. 

I stuck with quilting cottons because I didn't want it to get too bulky.  There's a coordinating fabric on the inside, and I made the one-pocket version again:

This is such a great pattern.  I was able to cut everything out just using my rotary cutter and ruler.  The outer piece is interfaced with fusible fleece, so the end result is nice and squishy.  I spent some time pondering how I wanted the fabrics arranged, but even so, this is just a two-hour project!  So fun to make!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

QOMB Progress

Here's a peek at how my new quilt is coming along.  These two photos were taken from above:

And here it is draped over the railing:

Can you tell I'm liking it? 

The strips run width-wise, and I've got 26 inches so far - a little over a third of the total length I want.  I made 4 more strips on Monday, and then ran out of strips of dotted Swiss and had to wash another piece.  But now that's done, and I'm hoping to get a little more sewing in today!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney? My vote is for Mitt Alpaca.

I hope I haven't offended anyone.  Truth is, I'm probably one of the least political people you're ever likely to meet.  But seriously, if your first name is synonymous with a type of hand covering and your  last name is a breed of sheep, you have to be ready to have a few knitters and spinners poke fun at you.

Anyhoooo . . . I made another pair of mitts.

And this pair is the best.  I call them Fuzzikins.  Because they're so fuzzy.  And so soft.  Too bad it's going to be 70 degrees here for the next few days.

These guys are made from Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri.  I picked up two balls of this stuff last week when Alicia and I visited Nina, and I'm so glad I did.  It's like knitting with a cloud.  I'm so in love with this yarn.

Look how fuzzy!

After I finished these on Sunday night, I spent some time just petting them.  This color is called "Toasted Marshmallow."  I also got a ball of "Agua."

Look at the little alpaca face!

And then I got really crazy and bought 3 more balls off another Raveler's destash!  I'm going to make a little sweater . . .

Eventually it will get cold, right?

I did buy the print pattern for these mitts, because it was there and I was too lazy to figure it out.  I'd say this pair only took a half ball, so although the yarn is on the expensive side (I paid $14.50), for 2 pairs, or a pair and a small cowl, I think it's reasonable.  They would make a great gift.  I did end up adding length to the palm and the thumb, because my hands are on the larger side.  Even so, each mitt only took about an hour - another reason they'd make a great gift!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Osaka Garden at Jackson Park

I wanted to share some pictures of the beautiful park we visited on Saturday.  Jackson Park is on the south side of Chicago, in the neighborhood called Hyde Park.  It lies just to the south of the Museum of Science and Industry (one of only two remaining structures from the 1893 World's Fair) and just to the east of the University of Chicago.  Within the park is a beautiful little Japanese garden called Osaka Garden.

 In another section of the park is Chicago's "Golden Lady."

Saturday was one of those perfect autumn days:  warm and breezy, sunny with brilliant blue skies, and spectacular fall color.

I'm so glad we spent it in the park!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Allegheny Mulligan

Gosh, it's been well over a month since I finished my Allegheny dress, and I finally had a chance to wear it yesterday, although I ended up being too hot later in the afternoon.  But a lot happened in that time.

When I originally posted about the dress, I explained that I'd chosen to work a rib at the bottom rather than a folded hem, and that I'd chosen not to make the dress so short.  A couple weeks later, on the day I had a massive "photo shoot," I took pictures of this dress as well.  And I wasn't crazy about what I saw "on film."  The dress was just too long, and it looked frumpy:

So I set it aside, and a couple weeks after that, I sat down and unraveled a good four inches from the bottom.  I had planned to work the rib again, but in order to have the cable land where I wanted it to, really the only good solution was the turned hem. 

The instructions do include a couple of rounds of decreases on the hem section that is turned to the inside, to reduce flaring.  To further reduce it, I worked the hem in a needle one size smaller.  And to minimize the ridge you get when sewing in a hem, I didn't cast off, but rather sewed the live stitches to the inside, one by one.

You can see one of the decreases here.

Yesterday we finally got some chilly but sunny fall weather, so we decided to go for a walk in beautiful Jackson Park,  just to the south of the Museum of Science and Industry.  And I wore my dress for the occasion.  Here are a few of the pictures Hubby took in the Osaka Garden:

Wearing it with my new mitts and my Neep Heid hat.

I think this above-the-knee length is more flattering, and I was mostly able to avoid the hem flare.  I wore a shirt under it yesterday because this wool is a little scratchy, but I actually prefer how it looks without a shirt.  And I normally wouldn't wear these off-white tights with it, but I wanted to make sure the new length was easy to see in photos! 

One of these days it will be cool enough to wear it again.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quilt of Many Blouses (and a Dress)

In amongst all the mitt-knitting, I've started a new quilt.

I got into my box of leftover fabrics early in the week, and dug out pieces of fabric that go together - mostly blues and reds.  I thought for a while about how I wanted to piece them together, and settled on random strip-piecing.

I'm using the fabrics from my first Sencha blouse, my second and third Continental blouses, my Souvenir blouse, a Sorbetto top, and the Cambie dress, alternated with the white dotted Swiss from my Violet blouse.

I cut the fabric into strips of 2.5", 3" and 3.5", then cut the strips into varying lengths.  For the most part a print strip is alternated with a Swiss dot strip.  As a backing, I bought the same Swiss dot but in the reverse colorway:  black with white dots.  I've been ogling that piece of fabric for quite a while, but I don't really wear black, so I'm happy I found a good use for it!

I'm shooting for a finished width of 45 - 48", and a length of 70 - 72".  I've already made 10 strips, which is probably about a quarter to a third of the top.  I arranged the strips yesterday (in hopes of sewing them together today) and the result is kind of like multi-colored subway tiles.

My plan is to bind the edges with solid red.

When I sew a garment, I always over-buy my fabric by about a half yard to give myself leeway for making mistakes.  So you can imagine how the leftovers start to pile up!  A lot of them have been used for making box bags, but the stash accumulation is one of the things that inspired me to start making quilts.  I didn't really realize until I got into the box how many garments I've made in reds and blues!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


It seems I'm smitten with mitts now.  I've made a second pair, and a headband to match:

I was able to make both items out of some leftover Knit Picks Swish Bulky I had in my stash - I'd say each item took about one hank.  I really like Swish Bulky - it's 100% merino, so it's very soft and silky.  Great for next-to-the-skin wear.

Both these patterns are free, and they're both quick and easy.  I made the headband in about an hour, and the mitts in about 3 hours.  The headband is a pattern called Turban(d), free on Ravelry.  The mitts are also a free pattern, the One Cable Mitts from Blue Sky Alpacas.

The bulky yarn and the 3/2 ribbing make this headband a very cozy thing to wear over the ears.

Who else is knitting mitts this fall? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mrs. Exeter

Months and months and months ago, the lovely Gerry gifted me a Brooklyn Tweed pattern out of the blue!  Wasn't that sweet?  The funny thing is, it's a pattern I hadn't been aware of before she gave it to me, but which is completely my style - a big, cabled cardigan with a shawl collar.

When Gerry gave me the pattern, the weather was already turning hot.  But all summer long I daydreamed about starting it in the fall, and towards the end of August I ordered myself some yarn.  About a month ago, I got started.  Here's Exeter:

I haven't made a whole lot of progress for a couple of reasons.  First, it's been a busy couple of months around here.  And secondly, I'm finding that I don't really enjoy working on it.  The pattern itself is a joy to work from, but I'm just not loving the yarn I bought.  It's 100% wool, but it feels more like acrylic.

Still, I love this design and really want to be wearing this sweater, so I'm trying to push through! 

I've said before that when I show in-progress knitting, it's usually been blocked.  This time I haven't blocked the piece.  You can't really see it here, but the cables are set off with eyelets.

Of course, I've got some other side projects going too, so I may be in it for the long haul on this one.  But I still daydream about finishing and wearing it!

Thank you Gerry!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet Mags

This week, I got a new sewing machine!  Meet Mags:

I've been contemplating getting a new machine with more bells and whistles for quite some time.  Ken is an excellent machine, but he was missing a few of the features I felt I wanted as my skills improved.  So I spent the last month reading reviews of machines and figuring out exactly which features I wanted and would use.  And this is what I landed on.

Note that it also comes with pretty flowers.

This Janome has all the features I wanted, and some I didn't even know I wanted until it arrived and I started playing with it!  I was looking for the ability to adjust stitch width as well as length, "needle down" positioning, snap-on feet and more than one style of buttonhole.  But it also has a feature that automatically backstitches at the beginning and end of the row (stitch number 3), and the foot pedal is optional!

I really like the variety of what I consider to be "useful" stitches.  Many of the machines I looked at had lots of decorative stitches that I doubt I would ever use.  Here I've got just a few.  I do think that stitch number 30 is pretty cute.

Along with the machine I got myself a small selection of extra feet:  invisible zipper foot (I've been wanting this for a LONG time!), narrow rolled hem foot and blind hem foot.

These feet come from Amazon, and they're very reasonably priced and seem to be of good quality.

I also got myself the all-important walking foot, which has already been hard at work:

Working on what, you may ask?  Well, Mags and the walking foot helped me finish my quilt!  And let me tell you I am over the moon about it, even though it's far from perfect.  I think the imperfect bits just add to its charm.

Ta daaaaa!  Want to see it closer?  I thought so!

I love that texture.  I decided to do the quilting in a random plaid, which I think worked well for the design of the top.  You can see it more clearly on the plain white back:

The whole time I was working on it, I was daydreaming about the moment that I'd be able to throw it in the washer and dryer to get that crinkly "old quilt" look.  I just love that!

For binding I used some very pale yellow voile I had in my stash.  It's just what I wanted - something understated that wouldn't detract from the top.  This being my first time binding a quilt on the machine, I had a little trouble with the corners, so I tacked diagonally across them.

I now know that the generic walking foot I was trying to use with Ken was causing my all my problems.  Here's one of the lines of quilting I did with it:

The foot was causing the fabric to bunch up rather than feeding it through!  I'm glad to know it was the foot and not my own lack of skills.

Even though this style of quilt does not really work in our very modern house, I'm just in love with it and can't stop looking at it.  I've put it at the foot of the bed, where I can look up from my knitting chair and see it!