So it’s been a while: it’s the middle of January, and the last time I posted was Augustish. I could talk a lot about why I didn’t post (the end of the year was busy, I guess?), but I don’t know how useful that would be. It’s been a while, is all.
One of the things I learned from not blogging for so long, though, was that I miss it. I didn’t think it was that important to me to have photos of all of my projects, or to have my Ravelry page up to date, but as it turns out: it is. I’ve noticed a change in how I feel about creating, and how I feel about what I’ve made, when I don’t have a visual record to go back to. There’s something really satisfying about it – as a made thing in and of itself, I guess – and I find it helps me a lot when life gets busy.
When things are hectic, or when I’m travelling too much to have time for some of my less portable work like spinning and sewing, one of my instinctive thoughts is that I’m not making enough. Sometimes this is true, sometimes this isn’t. But having that record to go back to, being able to remind myself that yes, I made that thing and that after things settle down, I’ll have space to make more things, is actually really helpful.
So one of my goals in 2016 is to start afresh, to get back to my camera and sharing what I make. Let’s skip the year-in-review post. 2015 was big – in a lot of really great ways, but also in a lot of ways that were a lot of work. I’m looking forward to using 2016 to get my feet back under me and renew some habits that got interrupted over the past few months.
I made a quilt top.
This is Cheerio from Thimble Blossoms. I started it around Christmas time, after being inspired by Nettie’s beautiful version at A Quilt Is Nice. I didn’t set out to copy her quilt, per se, but I really liked her take on it – lots of brights and lots of contrast. It made me take a look at that pattern in a new way, and appreciate how I could use it to make a quilt that suited me.
I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a quilt pattern that’s a bit more complicated than my usual (read: not another Donuts quilt), but straightforward enough that the block construction is still intuitive to me. This pattern ticked all the right boxes, and was also a great opportunity to make a dent in my fat quarter stash.
I had to buy fabric for the background – I don’t stash large quantities of neutrals unless I’ve got a clear plan for them – but all of the other fabrics in the quilt are from stash. It’s mostly Natural History fabrics (I got a fat quarter set for my birthday last year), with a few simlarly-themed fabrics mixed in. I decided to add in some “rules” for colour mixing, which helped me keep things cohesive. I split everything into “light” and “dark” piles by value, and tried to use “light” fabrics for the cheerio sides and “dark” fabrics for the squares. I also made an effort not to repeat any fabric pairings, so that each block is unique.
I’m planning to quilt this myself, which is kind of an exciting plan. (This is made possible by the fact that I did two things this summer: bought a new sewing machine, and learned to use the walking foot and machine quilt.) I’m a bit nervous, as this is the biggest quilt top I’ve ever made at 66″ by 77″, but I think I can manage it.
So: hello, 2016. I’ve been making things. I’m excited to share them with you this year.
One of the knitting projects that has been consuming most of my time since moving has been this wrap, and I’m very excited to be able to share it. This project also has the distinction of being the first knit that I started and finished in our new city.
(Which is also why I get to take photos next to a river, because we have one of those right by our new apartment!)
I made this as a gift for my future mother-in-law, who did a stupendous amount of work in helping us pack for our move, and then generously offered to help us unpack, as well. She didn’t ask for anything in return, but it was such a huge help that I couldn’t not do anything for her. She’s also one of those people who’s almost always too cold, so I knew that a shawl or a wrap would be a good choice.
The pattern is Cardinia, which I first saw knitted up as a sample at my old LYS. I chose it both because it’s a nice, basic knit that doesn’t require a lot of thought, and because it’s constructed in an interesting way.
The shawl is knit from edged to edge, rather than point to point, which means there aren’t that many rows, but each one is LONG. It also uses a deceptively large quantity of yarn, which I didn’t totally realize until I was in the middle of knitting it. Early on in the grey section, I actually said, “Oh, this isn’t using much yarn, maybe I can use the leftovers to make another for myself.”
The finished shawl is nearly three full skeins of sock yarn. Because you cast on 280+ stitches at the beginning, it looks like you’ve started knitting the full width of the shawl, but the increases go up to a 300-400 st width by the widest part, and yarn starts to disappear pretty quickly.
It makes a big, cuddly, generously-sized wrap, though, which I think will make it a really wearable gift.
I was a little constrained in what was available to me (I’m still learning about the yarn shops here in Calgary!) so the only way to get the colours I wanted was to knit this in three different bases, with different fiber content, from three different dyers. I must admit, this gave me a bit of an eye twitch. You can sort of tell, but I think only as a knitter – the grey and brown sections have cashmere content, and the pink is a merino/silk blend, so the pink feels a bit rougher by comparison, but it’s not bad.
If I had to knit this again (and I might, I’m a sucker for yarnovers on stockinette), I think I’d leave one marker in the center for the stockinette portion, to help me keep track of the center again for the middle lace portion. Otherwise, I think this pattern is a total winner, and I’m really pleased with the finished product – I almost like it too much to give away!
So the Tour has come and gone, but while it was around I got some pretty good spinning done.
I spun one braid of Indigodragonfly fiber (the blue-and-grey skein in the top photo), and three braids from my ITW stash. The colourways were, in order: “Eureka” on BFL, “Captain Tightpants” on BFL, and “Andraste” on English Shetland.
The two BFL braids I worked on spinning for The Holy Grail – that is, a 3-ply sock yarn. I’ve been out of practice spinning very fine yarns, and while I find my way back into the groove, I’m spinning a lot of very high quality, even sport-weight.
My Captain Tightpants spin was the closest I’ve come in a while – it’s around a 16 wpi yarn (commercial sock yarns tend to come out at around 18 WPI), but the yardage was fairly unimpressive at only 280yd. I’m happy with how I spun it, in terms of the way the colours move and the quality of the yarn, but it may end up being not-socks instead.
The yarn that I ended up being the happiest with was my last braid, the Andraste on Shetland. I really wasn’t sure how to spin this – the Shetland was very poofy but coarse, and I couldn’t imagine using it for anything intended for next-to-skin wear. I decided to spin it as a two-ply, hoping for something close to a DK weight so that I could make mittens (which I could always line with something softer, if I needed.) I ended up with a really great, poofy DK weight with enough yardage for mittens, and sort-of-almost lined up the colours in my spinning. This will end up striping when it’s knit up, and I’m looking forward to that.
I don’t know what the overall lesson here is, other than knowing that I’m still finding the balance between spinning intentionally and spinning intuitively. I’ve got a good sense of how to use my wheel to make yarn, and I’m pretty good at controlling the size of my singles and keeping them consistent. I’m still finding, though, that it’s the yarns where I really want them to be something that turn out not-quite-right, and the yarns I spend less time fretting about that end up as lovely surprises. I’ll have to think about this in the context of one of my longer-term spinning goals – to try spinning for another sweater quantity, someday.