Thursday, January 28, 2021

I Like #198

 This week was filled with some nice things, mostly because my sister and her family came up to see me.  I haven't seen my sister in a long time (for me) even though I saw the kids in early December.  Of course we played lots of board and card games and went for a walk in the park, but mostly we did crafts.

We had a harry potter themed crafting weekend which was super fun.  We started off making house-color themed witches hats.  We ran out of blac peltex so the kids made white ones, but it was super fun digging through all my craft bins to find random doodads to decorate the hats.  

Here is Anna's

My sister made this one for her friend Rebecca who is a ravenclaw

This is Alex's.  He did such a great job stringing all those beads-  it was great to see how well he focused on it.  And I love that he grabbed out one of my old polymer clay beads for the nose.  I made it many years ago when I was making teeth for Seymour and it was so fun to use it for something. I think the yellowish trim below was hand-dyed by Georgia (thanks Georgia!) but I really don't know where most of the other doodads originated.  Just stuff in my studio!

My cousin Kelly made this one,  she's a Hufflepuff.  I love the fluffy batting scrap.  It makes me think of marshmallows and clouds.

Becky made this one for my friend Kristin who's also a Hufflepuff

This is Becky's; she's a Ravenclaw

And here's mine.  I'm also a ravenclaw (but a sparkly one)

They all have hairclips sewn on the bottom, and we managed to get all of them on Becky's head at one point.

The pups had a good time with the kids.  I gave Bentley a bath last night-  he was sad about it but he was getting pretty stinky so we managed to muddle through

The kids also had a good time making fantastic faces on my yarn cones.  I love them!! 

I was so happy to see them, it really made my week.

I hope there have been good things in your week, click over to LeeAnna's to join the fun!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Truffle Shawl

And here's another knitting update!  This will be the last one for a while I think as I'm now at the beginning of new projects rather than the wrapping-up stage of old ones.

This was a super fun, easy knit and made a really warm cozy shawl.  Not too big that you feel smothered, but just the right size for keeping you toasty walking through the chilly air.  

The pattern is the Truffle Shawl by Melody Johnson.  For anyone who doesn't know here, Melody is a phenomenal art quilter who has recently focused a lot on knitting and creating new variations in knitting.  She's made a series of different garments and patterns using these mitered squares, and when she offered to share this shawl pattern I jumped at the chance.  I'd never done a mitered squares pattern before and it turned out to be fun and easy.  No seaming, just all picked up stitches to join on the next blocks.  She usually uses variegated yarns in her projects which makes the pattern stand out in a really beautiful way, but I didn't have anything like that and was pretty committed to using stash yarns.  I pulled out this wonderful green merino and threw in this super fun ribbon yarn for contrast (Thanks Georgia!!). They knit up surprisingly great together.

It was really hard to photograph the whole thing because the ribbon yarn metallic was very reflective, but you can get an idea of how wonderful the yarns look together in the in process pictures above.

I mostly do openwork or lace shawl patterns, and this is so warm and snuggly and scrunchy and different.  Super fun!  Thanks so much to Melody for sharing her pattern!


Thursday, January 21, 2021

I Like #197

 What a wonderful day yesterday was! My lab members and I crowded around our laptops at work watching the inauguration, the whole thing was wonderful and very moving.  I tend to be susceptible to ceremony in general (weddings, funerals, etc), but I thought it was great.  Constant reminders that we are still in the worst of a pandemic but with hope!  And personally it made me so happy to see VP Kamala Harris sworn in by Justice Sotomayor.  A shining example for all of us and all our kids that women can be in the highest echelons of government.  

I didn't take many pictures this week, mostly just the puppy.  I snuggle with all three of them on the couch almost every night, but my arm isn't long enough to get the four of us into a single selfie.

He unballed a WHOLE ball of yarn in the backyard, through the doggie door, around the chair.  It was attached to my knitting, but luckily didn't hurt the kniting.

I cast on a new pair of socks this week.  I haven't knit socks in a while so it's fun to have these going!

I blogged about several other knitting projects this week, you can see them here and here.

And, although the inauguration is an important and sober and joyful event,  I couldn't help laughing when my student sent me this meme last night.  Definitely resonated....

Click over to Lee Anna's for more things to like this week!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Summit Shawl

 Well I guess it's the time for knitting updates!  I did a lot of knitting this past year, and this was the last project for me off the needles in 2020.  Of course I didn't get around to blocking it until last week, so here we are.  

The pattern is the Summit Shawl by Mandie Harrington, and she has kindly made the pattern available for free on Ravelry.  I was drawn to the modern geometric shapes and to the really cool dropped stitch patterns.  It's worked in short rows and was a really good knit for zoom meetings.   The only challenge with a short row pattern is that a couple of times I couldn't remember which way the overall row was going and started off in the wrong direction!

The yarn is a silk linen blend (thanks Georgia!) and I still have some left so it'll probably re-appear in something else in the future.  It was good to work with and has a nice sort of rough-hewn vibe I like.

I always wind up setting up the camera on a tripod with a timer to take these pictures so it always feels weird, but I like to have pictures of how things look worn, and that's something I'm always looking for on ravelry, especially with regards to sweater patterns and stuff where I like seeing it on someone with my same shape.  Of course usually the pups join the photoshoot, and this time it was Spooky.

I like the way this turned out-  I might have been better off going a little longer so there was more to wrap around, but it felt pretty large already and I was ready to move onto something else.  The yarn is very comfortable, a good weight for not-too-cold times.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Knitting Update! (Mostly Christmas presents)

 I'm so far behind on blogging, but I thought I'd take today to give an update on a bunch of mostly small knitting projects from December.  I've really been enjoying knitting a lot these past few months, and after some complicated lace knitting earlier in the year I transitioned to some mostly simpler and smaller projects more recently.

The largest of these was the Marksbury Wrap.  This was a project my good friend Trish started right before she died about a year and a half ago.  Her daughter Caitlin asked if our church knitting group would finish it for her and we agreed.  We passed it around among group members for a while each working on it a bit, and then this fall my friend Melody and I spearheaded getting it finished up.  At first I didn't care for the yarn, but I got used to it and it turned out a lovely and soft.  I'm not sure whether it's the yarn or the needles, but it's a bit narrower than the pattern makes it look, more like a scarf than a wrap, but definitely warm and cozy.  I love the rainbow colors and it was a great opportunity to think of Trish.

I also knitted up a quick washcloth as a small stocking stuffer, but concluded from the experience that I much prefer crocheting washcloths to knitting them, and somehow I don't seem to have a picture of it.  

One of the other projects I did earlier in the fall was this knit colorwork headband.  I'd never done stranded (Fair Isle) colorwork before and it was a big challenge!  I got a little better as I went along, but still not great.  I'm a continental knitter, and it was very very hard for me to tension the yarn in my right hand so that I could knit with both colors at once.  I thought the headband came out nice, and I even lined it, but I guess my gauge was way off.  It was supposed to be a present for my mom, but evidently she has a very small head, and it was so big it kept sliding off her head.  It's a little too big even for me, so I think I might find somewhere to donate it and then knit her something else.

And then in a huge coincidence, right before Christmas, mom suggested that we knit Fair Isle Christmas ornaments while I was home for the holidays.  I wasn't sure we'd have time, but since it was only the three of us (me, Mom and Dad), we actually did a fair amount of knitting.  It was fun to get to practice more stranded colorwork on small projects.  There's still room for improvement, but at least now I feel like I can successfully carry yarn in both hands, and I'm getting better (though still slow) at picking up floats.  The pink/taupe and blue/white ornaments are mine and the red/white one is moms.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

I Like #196

 Well I'm late again and things are beyond crazy at work, but I guess being here is good enough sometimes.

Things to like! Puppies, knitting, cactus and cactus seeds (I'm going to try to grow them)!

Empty cactus fruits I harvested seeds from

My beloved puppy and other pups.  They make life better!

I love this instagram account.  Always funny takes on dog thoughts.

Good knitting progress this week:

And I had a chance to blog about my last quilt for 2020 and the ornaments I made this year, so check those out if you're interested.

Click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Ornaments 2020

I make ornaments for friends and family every year, and this year I went very traditional.  I'd been doing more embroidery this year, but mostly freeform things. And then for some reason I was inspired to do some cross-stitch.  Cross-stitch was the first embroidery I learned and I did a fair amount of it in middle and high school, but eventually found it tedious and turned my creative juices to something else.  Well after a 25 year break I picked it up again.  I tried working on a large Christmas cross-stitch project I set down barely started all those years ago, but only made it about 30 minutes before I was struggling to keep my place in the large pattern. 

Instead I started making ornaments using scraps of Aida cloth I found in my bin.  It was a blast!  I had so much fun- the patterns were easy and simple enough to finish in one or two sittings.  I loved using up scraps.  I used scrap threads too, so there are lots of color changes and color variations. I found a great variety of quality and ease-of-use in my fabric scraps too.  The blue was a bit schlubby and uneven, it was leftover from a crewel work kit (even though it's an even weave meant for counted work?) and wasn't the best quality.  Then I found a scrap of white that was just lovely to work on.  Finally the last one was on a scrap with teeny-tiny squares (and of course what I had left was the densest pattern) and I struggled a bit with that one.  

The first two I finished with a binding, but I wasn't super crazy about that, so the rest I finished more or less following this approach.  Basically you make a running stitch around the cross stitch and backing fabric and then cinch them up around two pieces of mat board like yo-yos.  I like that it makes them stiff.

This was the last cross stitch one I did, and unfortunately Spooky chewed on it for a good long while.  I rescued the embroidery (though not the hoop) and after a good soaking got out most of the weird brown back staining from the slobber and wood.

I also made a bunch of these cute hat ornaments for some more friends,  they seemed so wintery and fun and I enjoyed using up a bunch of yarn scraps.

While deciding what ornaments to make this year I thought about doing something really 2020ish.  I'd seen lots of mask and COVID ornaments but just couldn't bring myself to do any like that.  But I was super glad when my sister made really cute 2020 ornaments to give us.  You can see one there in my mom's left hand, it's a really cute "virus" ornament with bead spikes and a mask.  An adorable commemoration of a completely un-adorable year.

I really enjoy making ornaments;  it satisfies my crafty urges without generating more things we all have to dust and find a place for (except on the tree!).