I am in Quebec this week for work, but I wanted to share some little things I finished before I left.

All Hallows' Eve pincushion!

All Hallows' Eve pincushion!

This is the teeniest thing (seriously, the cross-stitch portion is 3″ by 3.25″ square), but it took forever. Which makes good logical sense, as cross-stitch is tiny. But I have this problem where, because I don’t find the stitches very challenging to execute (as long as one is able to pay attention to counting and thread colour), I always underestimate the time it will take. I started this in mid-October – hence the Halloween theme – and I totally thought I’d be able to knock the x-stitch bit out in a weekend day.

Which, maybe would have been possible if I’d had nothing to do but stitch, but as I had other things to get done that weekend, it sort of languished. When I picked it up last week, I realized that it was super close to being done – I think it was an extra couple hours of stitching, at most.

The pattern I used is called All Hallows Eve, and is part of a series of smaller patterns The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery is releasing. I really like them (and if you think I do not have my eye on that girl-with-unicorn pattern, but in screamingly bright shades instead of pastels, you do not know me very well). I also sort of fell in love with this one, because I am absolutely a sucker for anything involving a witch and her cat.

All Hallows' Eve pincushion!

Last Import-5

I modified the colours I used to make the finished piece look more like me (with the orange hair instead of violet) and my cat (grey – I was not brave enough to try to chart tabby stripes), Vesper. We have two cats at home, but Vesper is very decidedly My Cat, and I am Her Person, and she has a lot of opinions about any changes to this arrangement, so it seemed fitting to choose her instead of the kitten.

As you can see, I finished it off by turning it into a pincushion! This was surprisingly easy, and I think will get more use in my house than leaving it as something decorative. I cut the piece with 3/4″ seam allowances, and then cut two squares from my scrap pile to match – one is the ghost print I used for the back, and the other I laid underneath the cross-stitch fabric as lining. I was worried that if I left this unlined, filling would show through, as the cross-stitch linen is (for obvious reasons) a fairly loose weave. The filling is a combination of walnut shells and poly stuffing – I like the extra weight from the walnut shells, but the added stuffing keeps it nice and fluffy.

festive bags to put things in

festive bags - insides

Festive bags - insides

While I had my machine out, I also made up some project bags from the two fat quarters I picked up on vacation. I admit, I kind of hustled on these and messed up the zipper on one of them (the one with the red zipper), but I really wanted to have a new, wintery project bag to take with me to Quebec. This is not especially logical, but I was in the midst of sorting out how to pack for work but also above-zero but also probably snow but also make sure everything fit into a carry-on bag and also not forget anything. It was not a logical time.

The zipper error isn’t fatal – I flipped it into the bag when I should have flipped it out – and the bag still looks okay. However, having made several dozen of these by now, I notice the mistake.

These are, as always, Open Wide pouches in the medium size. I am okay admitting that I really, deeply enjoy how winter-holiday festive they are. (The house print has glitter woven in, to make the snow on the rooftops sparkle. A gal’s heart can only take so much.)

I find this a really practical size for most things – it comfortably holds two 100g skeins of yarn plus needles and notions. (Although, if one is committed, three skeins might just fit.) It’s also a really nice way for me to use up the fat quarters I keep accumulating, usually in lots of one or two.

I wanted to talk about a longer-term project I haven’t been blogging much: my handspun sweater spinning. I don’t know if you guys remember, but over the summer, I went to dye camp. Which was a stupid amount of fun. I came back with a kilogram of Polwarth roving, hand-dyed in several colourways, with grand plans to turn it into a sweater.

I spun the first little bit into test yarn, and knit a swatch hat to make sure it would give me the fabric that I wanted. Once this was a success, I got everything ready to spin my sweater quantity.

I started with 200g of four semisolid colourways. My initial plan was to dye 400g in brown and darker blue, and then 400g in grey and light blue, and then ply them together. After some testing, however, I realized that to get the results I wanted, I’d need to handpaint everything. I preferred the kettle-dyeing process, so I decided to blend colours by hand as I was spinning, instead.

Handspun sweater project - fluff

Colourway one was ‘brown’ (which turned into a lovely violet-brown-green, through happy accident) and a really deep indigo. I split it by hand into pieces approximately one staple-length long. I then divided everything up by weight – four bags of fiber, each of which had 50g of brown and 50g of indigo. I spun each bag into a full bobbin of singles.

handspun sweater project - bobbin 2

My spinning log has been instrumental in keeping me on task with this. I spun the first few bobbins of my first colourway in a couple of weeks (they are fatter singles to make a worsted-weight 2-ply, and I am spinning all of my singles before I ply anything) and then hit a bit of a lull. Part of this was because I got going on my quilt – my craft space is not really set up for spinning and sewing to happen at the same time, so there was a good two weeks where I didn’t spin at all.

This was when I was really happy to have spun my test yarn, and to have kept some singles to make a control card. Whenever I take a break and come back, my singles are less even, and I can be vulnerable to stressing out about it. (You know: “if my singles aren’t even, this yarn will look weird, and then it won’t knit right, and then EVERYTHING WILL BE RUINED.” That.) I think there is a bit of a temptation, while spinning, to get really really into making yarn that is absolutely perfect, and looks just like millspun. Having knit up a lot of handspun in the past year, though, what I’ve found is that knitting is very forgiving – you have to make a yarn really impressively thick-and-thin to have it show up significantly in the finished work.

So knowing that my test yarn was a bit thick-thin and still knit up really evenly helped, as did having my control card so that I could check to be sure my singles were on track.

Spinning log

Sweater Fluff

Sweater Spinning

Over the weekend, I finished up my fourth bobbin of singles for Colourway One, and got started on Colourway Two (my light blue and grey). This is a huge milestone – I’m over halfway on spinning singles! – and is helping me to keep going. It’s amazing how motivating a change in colour can be.

I had the most lovely opportunity a couple of weeks ago – C and I were able to synchronize our vacations so that they actually happened at the same time, and we went away for a week.




C picked out a farmhouse a couple of hours outside the city. It was pet-friendly, so we could bring the cats (ask me sometime about how much they like car trips), and it was an amazing chance to recharge and be creative. I read books – actual books, not just comics – which I have not done in months, and worked on a bunch of different ongoing projects.


Modern Maples handquilting

I basted my maple leaf quilt, and started in on the handquilting. I’m shooting for something a bit more elaborate than with my Donuts quilt – now that I know that I have the stamina to finish handquilting a full-sized quilt, I am more confident in quilting more densely.

(Although, I’m planning for a second project that I think is going to need some machine quilting – I have an entry-level Janome machine, and am not sure how to go about it. Any advice?)

Halloween Socks

I also finished a pair of socks that I’ve been working on. These have been kicking around for a while as my go-to travel project, and I’m glad that I got them done before Halloween.

Halloween Socks

Halloween Socks

Halloween Socks

They’re a pretty vanilla pair of socks – 64 stitches, 2.5mm needles, top down with an afterthought heel to keep the stripe patterning intact. The yarn is self-striping from Biscotte & Cie, a smaller dyer from Quebec. This is my first time working with their yarn, but I like the way it turned out, and it was a great set of October colours to work with. It reminds me of candy corn!

I also worked on a couple of other things – I made a ton of progress on my sweater, and finished up another knitting project – but those I think will be for another post.

More Posts

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a sleeve and a sad story

Happy Thanksgiving
13 October, 2014

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18 September, 2014

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the pillow that took forever
12 September, 2014

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finished sweater: walpole
5 September, 2014

finished sweater: walpole