Monday, 20 April 2015

Must Be Monday

Otherwise known as apparently not a good day for getting things done...

Work started last week, and the weather was gorgeous. Today, not so much. It went from cold and overcast on arrival to cold, windy and raining shortly after we got to the first site of the day. We stuck it out for a couple hours, but finally admitted defeat with the place half-finished, and drove back to the shop (with the heater on full blast). Everything I was wearing was wet enough to need changing when I got home. Oh well, I'm dry now, and at least gardeners have the option to stop for the day, unlike mail carriers or the people who change advertising signs, both of whom I saw working outside today.

All right, so free day, what to do? I noticed the blue yarn in the sweater for my cousin's baby was bleeding colour onto my fingers when I knit, so I wound the yarn into skeins and washed it. Apparently the bar of laundry soap I used wasn't a good idea, because the yarn is all patchy now and will probably need re-dyeing before use...and since I already have that blue in the trim of the cuffs and sweater body, I will probably have to rip ALL of it out and restart with a different colour combination.

That was a depressing thought, so while I was working my courage up, I decided to sew some of the patches for the quilt square in progress. Got a piece done, corners lined up, and came to the conclusion that how I was lining this section up was wrong and I will have to rip out and redo. Thankfully it was only the first of the four sections with that layout.

I'm starting to sense a pattern here - and it's making me very hesitant to try and get anything substantial done. Maybe the best thing to do with my free day is going to be make a cup of tea, put on a movie, and (sigh) rip out the errant quilting seams, frog the baby sweater, and turn my attention to finding a new colour combination for the latter. Yeah. And with any luck, neither the stove nor the VCR will blow up when I try to use them.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Decision Making

To any quilters out there - how do you not go crazy deciding between options? There are so many options!

Where did that thought come from? Well, I'm working on a quilt block. One quilt block. A local quilting group is doing this for a fundraiser, and Mom and I decided to get in on it. Each person doing a block gets a packet with 2 pieces of fabric (the same 2 for everyone), and instructions. Basically, the idea is to add 2-4 more fabrics, and make a 12" quilt block. That's really all the guidelines you have.

First things first, I needed to find two more fabrics. Mom and I went through a couple baskets of scraps.  When your starting point is a blue solid and a blue print, there are a lot of colours that go with them. After trying several different combinations, I ended up with a buttery yellow and a white with a flower print that picked up the blue and the yellow.

Next, pattern. I'm pretty much a novice, so I wanted something fairly simple - i.e., nothing where I had to accurately match eight points together or something. But not too boring. And of course it had to be doable in 4 colours. Um, so we have a couple books with names like "400 Quilt Blocks". And a few with a more specialized focus. I skipped the magazines; that would have been too much input. Finally settled on a block called Canadian Gardens, which seemed appropriate.

Four fabrics, quilt block, all right...Wait, I still have to decide which colours are going where. So out come the coloured pencils and the paper. I'm sure this is a lot easier if you have a vision of the finished quilt in mind - which colours you want to emphasize, for instance. If all you see is a pattern of triangles and squares, there are a lot of possibilities. (If I was doing a whole quilt, in fact, I would be tempted to try out all the various permutations and combinations of colour arrangement for the same block layout.) But since I had only one block, and didn't want to spend two days choosing the colour placement, I sketched just four and picked one of those (the top left one, if you're wondering).

Got the pattern pieces drawn and cut out (the 8-squares-per-inch graph paper I had for school made that SO easy), traced onto cardboard and cut out for templates, and traced and cut appropriate pieces of fabric. Which was a job, not because of the cutting, but because the cat decided she needed attention, and accurately tracing and cutting pieces of fabric is much harder when there's four feet and a tail in the way and a cute face purring and trying to rub your face...Now I get to do the sewing, and hope everything lines up.

But not right now. Because it's beautifully sunny and nice out (supposed to be 23C today!), the birds are chirping, the crocuses are blooming, and I need to finish cleaning up the garden before work starts later this week.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Spring: Finishing And Starting

Despite the fact that we had a winter wonderland outside (again!) Sunday morning, spring is just about here. Things are coming up in the garden, and work starts next week.

A lot of my fibre projects seem to be either finishing or starting right now also. On the finished pile, I have all 5 skeins of that pewter-grey llama I was spinning, plus my first official weaving project, hemmed, washed, ends trimmed, and ready to go to the Guild on Monday.

Also going to the Guild will be my basket from the class I was taking. I must say it's not exactly a perfect basket, but hey, it's my first try. The reed we used was really light-coloured, and the basket sticks out like a sore thumb, since every other basket I own is patina'd and rather darker. But by a nice coincidence, I've been doing my first dye-bath of the season - walnuts - and thought that the exhaust bath might be useful to stain the basket darker, even if it takes a few coats. So I'm trying that right now.

The walnut-dyed yarn is hanging up to dry. The darker skeins are going for a sweater for a cousin's new baby, commissioned by my aunt. It's wool from their sheep that they had mill-spun at MacAusland's, and the weight and texture are similar enough to Briggs and Little that I will add some colours out of my stash of B&L to get enough yarn for the sweater.

The lighter skeins had a cold soak for 30 min or an hour in the exhaust bath - I just want enough there for a tint, which gives lovely reds with a cochineal pink/red on top.

While waiting for the yarn to dry for the little sweater, I'm finishing off a pair of socks for me. Fleece Artist BFL Sock I bought at Rhinebeck last year. The only picture I have so far, though, is this one of Pumpkin having a lovely nap on my laptop case and knitting bag, with the sock sticking out of the sandwich.

And the last current finished thing is the first Cowichan-style sweater Joan commissioned (we're still waiting on the yarn for the kid's version). It's really cozy, even if knitting with Lopi does make me feel like I've got a hairball in my throat. And I found out that taking a picture of your own back is rather tricky, but I got some sort of picture in the end! (All right, so the easiest was taking pictures while not wearing the sweater.)