Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inspiration

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I took this photo back in June, knowing there would come a day when the sky was like iron and the air was soggy and I would need a reminder that life is beautiful. That picture, right there, does indeed remind me that my life is gorgeous. See my chicken coop in the background? My apple tree? My tire swing?

I made this quilt back in the late ‘90s, inspired by the incredible Denyse Schmidt.

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My version of her design doesn’t do her any kind of justice, but I had the most fun making it, just sewing strips together without measuring, and letting them be, hoping they would be, wonky and canted. It was such a free process, and it taught me so much. I learned that if I want to just sit and chop up some fabric and start stitching it together, it will all turn out okay, more than okay, even. It will be spectacularly cool. I will venture to say that Denyse is the Elizabeth Zimmermann of quilting—she is the boss of her own sewing, and makes her own rules. Actually, if you really want a treat, type “Denyse Schmidt” into google images and then just sit back and swoon. Her sense of color is unbelievable.

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This quilt is newer, from sometime in the past year, inspired by the delicious Jane Brocket. Oh my gosh, I love them together like that, against my purple clothesline and the lush grass, with the summer sunshine filtering down.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting yarny

Guess what I’m getting ready to do:

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You probably got it on the first try. It seems I am trying to answer the question “How many granny square blankets are too many?”

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This photo from the August issue of British Country Homes and Interiors, along with my already having had a huge bag of red wool yarn the color of your Aunt Felicity’s favorite lipstick, was all I needed to jump off into another blanket project.

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I can’t even tell you how much I love this already. That red yarn has been hanging around here longer than some of my kids have been alive, and finally, FINALLY, I know what to do with it. It is the most lurid color in the world, and many a sweater has been attempted and unraveled, since no human creature could wear it. It is, however, perfect for this blanket.

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Here, you can see the pre-blocked result of Lucy’s join-as-you-go granny square method. So clever!

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Gosh, it’s getting pretty yarny around here. I might have to embroider something soon, just to maintain some balance.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Striped scarf

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I’ve had this in the project basket for something like two years. I saw Jared’s back then and was wildly inspired, so I dropped everything and made one, and it was seriously thrilling. You use two different colorways of self-striping yarn (I used Plymouth Boku, but you can use Noro Silk Garden if you can stand the price and the itching) and work k1, p1 ribbing over 30 stitches, alternating yarns every two rows, until the yarn runs out. Watching those stripes move together over the different color combinations is amazingly entertaining! Ooh, it’s blue and purple! Now it’s rust and olive! Who knows what will happen next? You just have to keep on going to find out. Man, I loved it.

I finished the first one while listening to an audio book version of On The Road, and I gave it to my husband for Christmas that year. (Have I seen that scarf lately? Did he lose it?)

Then I missed the awesome striping action, so I started another one, and immediately went, hmmm…zzzz….

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…until the other day, when I went hunting for something else, and excavated this instead.

Ooooh, aaahhh! Incredible shifting magical stripes! It was done in no time, only now we are having the kind of weather again that makes you wish you didn’t have to wear any clothes at all. I love fall in New York.

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Fortunately, it’s fun just to look at it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spinning, rank beginner style

The weather yesterday was beautiful, so I took my spinning wheel outside, set up under the crabapple tree, and made this:

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I bought this beautiful fiber last year and, as is my way, I started spinning it immediately. I am, I should mention, a self-taught spinner, and this luscious fiber is a mix of wool and silk, which turned out to be more than I could handle at the time. The silk seemed to make things both sticky and slippery at the same time, and I quickly grew completely frustrated by the process, so it sat, half-finished, for months. It hung from the wheel getting dusty and I was consumed by guilt until finally, last week, I got my mojo back.

I know it isn’t much to look at, because I don’t know anything at all about spinning, and I’m usually just happy with any result that looks like yarn.

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It turned out reasonably balanced (which I think means it doesn’t have more twist in the spun singles than in the plying, and will hang straight down if you undo the skein) but I really couldn’t spin this with any consistency, so I have had to be content with the fact that this is one of those “thick ‘n thin” yarns I never know what to do with. Luckily, it looks pretty gorgeous just like that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baby knitting

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My friends are having a baby, so I made them these booties. Aren’t they dear? You can’t believe how tiny they are.

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My friends don’t know whether their baby will be a boy or a girl, so I tried to choose colors that will work either way. They’re so dang cute, I’d wear them myself! The pattern is by Saartje de Bruijn, and the yarn is KnitPicks Comfy in sportweight, leftover from the gypsy pillow cover. I used size 2 straight needles, and they took almost no time at all. Don’t you love the vintage buttons? They’re sewn on very tightly, I assure you.

As cute as they are, they make a pretty small gift, so I went ahead and did this, too:

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I know, right? This little bun is about the cutest thing ever. The pattern is by Marion Edmonds, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, and the yarn is Jo Sharp DK cotton, held double. I used US size 6 needles.

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He reclines against the gypsy pillow. Don’t smush the pillow, Mr. Bun!

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He gazes pensively out the window.

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How about a nap? I’ll be here when you get sleepy!

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Nighty night!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My first ripple blanket, revealed

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There’s a certain snap in the air here in the Northeast, and the sky is that particular shade of blue, and the leaves, not yet golden, are surely beginning to think about turning. I light a fire in the mornings, and wear my Big Sweater, and wool socks.

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Much of the yarn in this blanket came from my friend Orlo, who’s wife, a lifelong crafter, finally became unable to work her needles any longer, and when she left this world, he very kindly thought of me. I feel blessed and grateful, and the blanket warms me.

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This Ripple is big enough for a nap, and then some. It’s big enough for a twin bed, or to completely conceal my couch, or for a girl to wrap herself in on a blustery morning and leave no knee or toe uncovered. This blanket is the very soul of coziness.

Friday, September 10, 2010

C is for Cath

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Inspired by Cath Kidston’s Vintage Style (oh, that book is so beautiful, and so out of print—goodness, I love my local library) I made this little hand towel from thrifted things and scraps. Total cost = about five cents.

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I don’t know who “C” was, but I’ve decided she was pale and beautiful, with a long rope of brown hair coiled at the nape of her neck as she sat beside her window stitching this dainty little cloth in anticipation of her marriage to Mr. C.

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Then they used it well and carefully, because it is soft and worn, but white as the driven snow. Mrs. C was a very good housekeeper.

The polka dots were applied using the freezer paper applique method. Tutorial coming soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another patchwork blanket

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I have decided this patchwork blanket is finished. I meant to add a white border with a little picot edge, a la the original, but I couldn’t pick up stitches along the side edges without it looking wonky, so I opted to leave it this way. I like it. It is also considerably smaller than I usually like a blanket to be, but I think this will be lovely to have on the end of the bed when my feet are cold.

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This is 100% a scrap quilt. Everything you see there is leftover from something else I made, and I love that about it. I used all worsted weight yarns and a 3.75 mm hook. I also love that it completely matches the quilt underneath it.

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It matches it so well it’s practically camoflage! You can hardly see it there. I did not expect that. Nor did I expect that most of my craftiness lately would involve so much brown and burnt orange.

I used dottie angel’s method for joining the squares as I went along, thus avoiding the odious task of sewing them all together later.

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That’s cozy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tidying

I’m ready to make another quilt—most likely because it’s a little chilly here today—but I have a little problem:

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I recently organized the fabric stash, and now I don’t want to mess it all up. It’s all sorted by color and everything!

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I also finally got all my books in one place. My wonderful husband built me this bookcase, and I adore it. Isn’t it perfect?

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Only now, I just want to sit and look at the bookcase, and the extremely organized fabric cupboard, and I don’t want to make a mess. Oh dear.

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Well, can you blame me?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Someday it will be chilly again

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This is my first pair of hand-knitted gloves. I had always resisted making gloves because I am really a mitten girl, and knitting the thumb of a mitten is the most annoying part, and what is a glove but a mitten with five thumbs anyway? Then I saw a pair of these in Threadbear and, well, I fell kind of hard. The shop model pair was so soft and comfy, and the yarn, Colinette Cadenza in “Monet”, was 40% off, and…I assume that one day it will not be 93 degrees anymore. Also, let’s face it, I’ve already knit most everything else. Yes, I have a pattern for knitted underwear…

I actually enjoyed the challenge of making these, and they are far from perfect, but they look like real gloves and I kind of love them.

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You can see there are a few things I still need to learn about making gloves, such as how to keep the holes at the base of the fingers from being so glaringly huge, and I’m sure when it turns actually cold (this is New York, after all) I will turn to my trusty mittens, but I’m thinking chilly weather right now. I’m thinking campfires and cocoa and high school sports and maybe one or two early season snowballs. Yeah, you need gloves for that.