Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Laura's quilt

I'm working on a quilt for my sister.  This is the fabric. There is one more dark teal fabric that I added after I took the picture.

I've been debating for a while about what layout to use.  She said she is interested in geometric shapes, color, and wants it to be somewhat non-traditional.  I decided on the layout below as a rough design.  I just drew it out several times on graph paper until I liked how it looked and then tried to recreate it in excel.  Each block will be unique.  I've been starting with a selection of the fabrics and then going from there. No real plan.  In some ways it is easier, but it is is also kind of hard because I sit there and stare and try to figure out what to do next.  I had also thought I would make the blocks kind of wonky, but I haven't been very successful at breaking out of my measuring and squaring routine.  I'll have to make an effort to be more carefree in my piecing.  I was hoping to have it done in time to give to her for Christmas, but I've only gotten 3 blocks done in the two days I've had off this week, so that isn't going to happen.  But, at least I'll have made some progress!  I'll update with some pictures of the blocks done so far later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Andrea Bag

Here is another Andrea bag sent out as a custom order for Christmas.  I really like this fabric combination. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Harry Potter style scarf and hat

My 4 year old nephew has been really interested in my knitting and spinning recently and asked me to make him a scarf when he saw all my yarn.  So, I made him this scarf in the style of Harry Potter.  I wanted to have something to give to his brother so I whipped up this hat in a few hours one evening and the following morning.

I've been reflecting on my knitting progress recently.  Back in February of 2010 (almost 2 years ago!) I posted in this post about how I just didn't like knitting that much but that I really wanted to get over the learning curve so I could get into it.  Well, I think it worked!  I'm totally addicted now.  I've even been teaching others to knit and have been able to help them trouble-shoot.  That was a real eye-opener to me that I had transitioned from a novice to someone who actually knows how to knit!  I made both this hat and scarf without any pattern. Now, the scarf is not that tricky, but the hat required me to make ear-flaps and attach them to the hat, decrease, and pick up stitches around the bottom to do the ribbing.  Not to mention figuring out my gauge and how many stitches to cast on.  All that which was foreign to me less than two years ago now seems easy!

It really just took some practice and making a few things from patterns to learn some techniques.  Some other things that have helped me in the process have been the book Knit Fix, which has some really good explanations of both how to fix mistakes and also how to avoid making those same mistakes again (or in the first place).  The other thing that has really helped and inspired me is the Knit Picks podcast. Kelley talks about a lot of techniques and makes them sound easy or explains why you would use them.  I don't necessarily learn how to do the techniques while I'm listening, but at least I know they exist so I could look them up if I wanted to use that technique.  Sometimes it  helps me to better understand techniques I already knew about.  She also reviews a lot of books and my library has expanded because of that.  In fact, I think that is where I heard about Knit Fix!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wet bags

I previously made some wet bags for my sister-in-law and blogged about them here.  I had tried lining them with vinyl,which I think was a good idea in theory, but the vinyl didn't hold up well after repeated washing and drying cycles.  My sister-in-law asked me to make some more for her to give away as a baby shower gift.  This time I used some leftover fabric from this quilt. I didn't use the vinyl, and went for sewn button holes for the ribbon draw-string instead of metal eyelets.  The outer fabric is home decor weight so they have a nice sturdiness.  The two smaller ones are kind of small, but I think you could put a bottle, pacifiers, or a onesy in them easily. I still love this fabric.  I wonder if it is still available...I might have to stockpile some if it is.  This was the very last I had in my stash.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gas bag copy cat

I saw this beautiful bag on another blog and just had to see if I could make one.  I had been planning to make a bag with a zipper top for my friend, Kate, so this fit the bill perfectly.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I hope Kate is enjoying using it in Hawaii!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Purse for my sister

My sister requested a new, small purse, so I whipped this up for her in August and gave it to her when she was back visiting my parents.

But, the highlight of the trip was that she found my bag of wool that I had been carding on the way there to have ready for my new spinning wheel, and decided the rolags looked like dreads. Then, the next day, my dad found them and held one up as if it was a mustache!  Unfortunately, I missed getting a picture of that.  Neither one of them knew that the other had done that.  I guess I know where she gets her sense of humor!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baa Baa Black Sheep

I found out that one of the summer students working in our lab grew up on a sheep farm.  She was going home one weekend, so I asked her if they had any black, grey or other colored wool that I could buy.  She brought me back an entire garbage bag full of black and grey wool (for free!)!

Here it is before any washing.

Here are some clean, carded rolags ready for spinning.  The white is from my other fleece that my dad got me, and the lightest grey is a blend of the white and the lightest grey.  The other 3 shades of grey and black are all from this fleece.  

I spun the different colored rolags in the order they were in the picture and then plied it back on itself to make this skein that goes from black all the way to white.

 This one was actually my first skein of spun yarn from the black and grey fleece.

And, here is a coffee cozy knit from the first skein.  This might have to go to the summer student as a thank you for the wool.  I can't wait to make something from the other skein. I've carded a lot more of this wool in preparation for my new spinning wheel, so there might be enough for a scarf or something when I am done!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Andrea Bag for me!

Remember the Andrea bag?

 And then I tried to make it into a messenger style for myself...

Well, I finally made the original style Andrea bag for myself!  Actually, I made it before I went on a trip to see Andrea and another friend, Ann, in Boston the first weekend in June.  Andrea and I toured Boston with our Andrea bags!   We had a great time and the bag was perfect for walking around town all day.  I could bring everything I needed for the day, but it never got too heavy!

The Andrea bags even made it to Sam Adams Brewery!

You might recognize the fabric...I used it once for a Jen bag...and I wouldn't be afraid to use it again!  I love this print!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hand spun, hand dyed, and hand knit coffee cozy

Back in November I took a small amount of yarn I had spun (double ply on the top and a singles on the bottom of the picture below) and dyed it with food coloring.  It has been sitting on my shelf since then and I had no specific plans for it.  I had just done it to try out dying.

The color was so bright that I couldn't imagine wanting to make anything out of it. In fact, it is even hard to get a good picture!

Well, this weekend I finally got around to knitting up a coffee cozy with the singles yarn.  It seems like the only thing that you might not mind being that crazy color.  It looks better than I expected.  I actually kind of like it now.  I'm considering putting it up on etsy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fancy Feet Anklets - Saturday

I ordered the Fancy Feet Anklets kit from Knit Picks a long time ago.  It comes with 7 different anklet patterns and 7 balls of sock yarn.  I started this pair in November and finally finished a week or two ago.  I just worked on them periodically between other projects.  That is why it took so long!  I'm enjoying them now and am looking forward to making another pair.  Socks are great because they are small and easy to carry with you, but the tiny needle and yarn is not as fun for me.  But, regardless, there are more socks in my future.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New spinning wheel

Yesterday I went to Susan's Fiber Shop in Columbus, Wisconsin and tried out a lot of spinning wheels.  I have been eyeing the Majacraft Aura wheel for a while and finally found someone who had one that I could try out.  It is pretty expensive so I wanted to be sure I liked it before I ordered it.  After trying a few wheels, I was convinced that I wanted a Majacraft wheel because they felt so smooth when I treadled.  However, the Pioneer was significantly cheaper than the Aura.  It was hard for me to get a really good feel for which wheel would be the best for my spinning.  The Aura is very different than what I have now, but that is part of why I was interested in it.  It has a new technology that is different from other wheels.  The Pioneer was a little easier for me to just sit down at because it was more like the wheel I have now.  But, the Aura is sooooo pretty.  It is solid bamboo.  The Pioneer is pine and the wheel is fiber board.  I just knew I wouldn't be happy if I didn't get the Aura.  I saw it in a magazine and knew it was the wheel for me.  So, I ordered it!  It comes from New Zealand, so it will be about a month before I get it.  I am pretty excited and will be counting down the days!

Here is a picture from the Majacraft website of what the Aura looks like.  I can't wait to post pictures of mine when it arrives.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tie Blankets

This week our book club made fleece tie blankets to donate to the Ronald McDonald House while we discussed our latest book.  We made six blankets and they were all cute! Mine had little alien guys (and a dinosaur).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Copycat bag

Quite some time ago Jen (of the Jen bag) asked me to try to copy the red bag below from Anthrpologie. It took forever, but I finally finished a blue imitation bag! Mine doesn't have a zipper closure on the top, but otherwise I don't think it is too far off - especially since this picture is all I had to go off of!

The flowers were the most time consuming, but also the most fun part. The whole thing probably took about 12 hours of actual construction time. There were several other hours put into getting the pattern right and testing it out on scrap fabric. I was having a little trouble with my machine towards the end, so that slowed me down (I think its timing is off again). If I were to do this again, I'm sure I could shave some time off, but probably not much more than an hour or two. So, I don't plan to duplicate this any time soon. I'm not ruling it out just yet, but I need to take a break before I think about that!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival

I recently went to the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival.  It was pretty amazing to see all those people who knit and spin in once place. I don't know a single other person who spins, and I saw people spinning everywhere!  There was a sheep dog trial, a sheep shearing demonstration and lots and lots of vendor booths.  I wanted to buy a lot of things, but ended up with only two.

First, I got about 3 oz of natural brown wool.

Then, I also got this hand dyed fiber that is 65% merino wool, 15% Tencel (some sort of cellulose fiber), 10% Banana, and 10% least that's what the label says.  Regardless, it is very soft and I can't wait to see how the yarn turns out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Owen's car quilt (FINALLY DONE!!!!)

This was going to be an easy project, but I had some problems with it.  Mostly, it stemmed from trying to applique flannel letters.  They were too small and my stitching was too wide so they frayed around the stitching. Then, I couldn't decide how I wanted to fix it.  I finally ended up using my seam ripper to remove the frayed letters, cut new ones, then appliqued them on with a narrower zig-zag through the whole quilt.  It isn't what I wanted to do, but it turned out okay after it was all done.  I like the difference in texture with the flannel and the cotton and the frayed edges.  I hope Owen likes it too!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Angora socks for me

So, I did work on several of the things on my list recently. I finished the binding on Owen's car quilt, but when I washed it, I had some problems with the applique wanting to fray around the stitching, so I have to fix that.  I also started working on a prototype for the copycat purse for Jen, but didn't get done with that either.  I did, however, skip all the way down my list to spin yarn and make slipper socks for me!

It all started when I bought some angora rabbit fiber from a local rabbitry, Oldhaus Fibers and Rabbits (  It is so soft!  I mixed it 30% angora, 70% wool.  Here is the pile of fiber, angora on the left, wool on the right.

And here it is after I carded it and made it into rolags ready to be spun.  I prepared this much fiber twice for my slipper socks.

Here is one skein of yarn.  I ended up with three.  See how the rabbit fur makes a fuzzy halo?

Finally, here are the slippers.  The one on the right was done almost a week before the other and I wore it around a little.  You can see how much more of a halo there is on the one I've been wearing.  The other should look like that before long too.  They also look a little different because the last skein of yarn I spun was a little thinner, so the gauge was a little different. I think that is fine, since they are just for wearing around the house.  I am pretty happy with them.  They are so soft and comfy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 Crafting To-Do List

I feel like I already have my entire year's worth of crafting planned out!  I have so many things I want to do.  Sometimes I lose track of all the ideas I have had, so I thought I would make a list here and see how it changes over the course of the year.

  • Make a pattern for Cole's Robot Quilt (I've had requests for this!)
  • Finish hand-stitching the binding on Owen's Car Quilt
  • New purse for Jen - Copycat Challenge (more details coming soon)
  • Bluebird purse (a customer request based off of this bag.)
  • Natural Dying - read books on natural dying that my sister gave me for Christmas, try out natural dying with the dye stuffs she gave me, plant natural dye plants in my garden, harvest them and dye with them.
  • Finish my half done fancy feet socks...Well actually, the kit came with yarn and instructions for 7 pairs of anklets, but I'm just trying to finish one pair (the Saturday pair) for now.  I'll have to post a work in progress post about these.
  • Revamp the Andrea Bag - Messenger style (for me!)
  • Master Charles hat for Cole in the color Robot (silver) - I already bought the yarn a long time ago and started on it last summer, but it ended up being too big and I haven't gotten around to doing the new one yet.
  • Master Charles hat for Owen in black and yellow just like the one in this post.
  • Spin yarn for and knit slipper socks for Jeff (like the ones I made for my dad). This should probably be two bullet points since the spinning is one craft and knitting is another!
  • Spin yarn for and knit slipper socks for me!
  • Read and knit the sampler in "The Sweater Workshop" to try to learn how to knit a sweater.
  • Spin yarn for and knit a sweater for my dad.
  • Hawaii Quilt from this fabric I bought in Hawaii
  • Peacock Quilt
  • The always present, never finished first quilt I started in 2003
There is probably no way that I will accomplish all of that. Especially if I get side-tracked by any other projects or if my friends and family keep having babies at the rate they have been!  These are somewhat in the order of expected completion with the first few on the list being things I hope to accomplish this month, the last few being things I probably won't really do, and the ones in the middle are ones that I want to do, and probably will, but they'll have to wait until I get a few other things done.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hand spun, knitted, suede-bottomed slipper socks for dad

I spent a lot of time spinning yarn this winter for this project.  Here is a pile of approximately 70 yards of hand spun yarn.  The slipper socks ended up using a little over 230 yards of yarn.

My dad bought me a spinning wheel and two fleeces last year for Christmas.  He wanted a sweater, but I wasn't quite prepared to jump straight into a sweater yet, so he settled for some knitted slipper socks with suede bottoms.

I ordered the correct size of suede bottoms at my local yarn shop and found a pattern for plain stockinette stitch socks in about the same size yarn as my hand spun on Ravelry.  Then I found a pattern for the open cable pattern, converted it from straight needles (back and forth) to circular, and incorporated it into the sock pattern.  They were pretty quick to knit except for the fact that I had to stop every few inches to spin more yarn!  I had no idea how much it would take, so I just kept spinning about 30 yards at a time until I was done.

I just finished last night, so I haven't had a chance to send or take them to my dad, so I had to have my husband model for me!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Andrea Bag - Messenger Style

Back in October/November I attempted to modify the Andrea Bag below into a messenger style bag.

Several people had suggested this and I really wanted a bag that was big enough to put a folder or pad of paper in for when I go to conferences or at work, etc.  So, I enlarged the bag and changed from 2 straps in front and back to one side-to-side strap.

Just looking at it like this, I am fairly pleased with it.  I love the fabric on the inside and the belt/bow.  But, when I started using it I realized that I really was not happy with it.  I think moving the handle to the side made it lose some of it's shape.  It is too flat across the top.  But even worse, I made it too wide but not deep enough, so it still doesn't really hold papers or folders very well, and it is so wide that I fell like my things might just fall out.  Also, you might be able to see in the bottom picture, that by placing the handle on the sides, it pulls the two sides together when you actually use it and the top bunches up because of that.

Overall, I am considering this a good design learning experience.  I eventually want to take a second attempt at this and will probably go back to the original handle style, but just make it a little bigger.  I might also consider going with the side strap but changing the shape so that the top naturally is narrower to avoid the bunching that it does now.  Oh, and I'll use a sturdier interfacing.  This bag just feels flimsy.  Hopefully I'll have better luck next time!