18 March 2010

Thursday nights are for quilting

Another week, another evening of quilting. Les courtepointistes have been pretty reliable with quilting on Thursday evenings. Last week was Mr. Peabody's turn to come to my place.

Mr. Peabody has been working on an English Paper Pieced tumbling blocks quilt for quite some time now, almost a year I think. It's very interesting how he's chosen to divide up his process for this quilt. Since he started it with scraps and leftovers, he's been in the habit to spend some time putting new scraps onto the piecing papers and loading them into his travel case for piecing into blocks later, slowly accumulating finished blocks.

As his collection of fabrics has grown, this process has understandably expanded in scope. He's spent a few weeks cutting, and prepping lozenges from all the fabric he's accumulated in the past few months. Now he has a cardboard box filled with a spectrum of lozenges to work with. Last Thursday he brought the box out to play.

He spent about a half an hour un-packing his box of fabric scraps prepped on papers and organising them by colour (all over my coffee table and onto the floor).

Grouping his lights on my floor.

Then he spent the rest of the evening making selections, while I finished working on my rainbow dodecahedron. Yes, it's bad form to be knitting on quilt night, but sometimes I quilt on knitting night so it all works out. In this case it worked out pretty good for me to be knitting something pretty simple while he was selecting his fabric combinations. Every few minutes he'd ask me what I thought of such 'n' such fabrics together. I'd have a resounding "oh yeah!" in reply, or we'd find another lozenge to perfect the quilting illusion (insert waggling fingers here) for the block. By the end of the evening he I think 6 pins worth of selections made. Should take him a while to finish them all off.

By Sunday's family dinner, he already had 5 blocks finished.
Pretty nice huh?

One of these days he'll get around to start putting the blocks together. Don't worry, I'll take some pictures when that happens.

17 March 2010

Can't have enough dodecahedrons

After finishing my new favourite socks, I found myself with two partial balls of rainbow Regia sock yarn in addition to the extra ball I had originally bought. Clearly that meant that I had to make another dodecahedron. Especially since I wanted to see if there was enough yarn in each stripe for one point. Turns out there is! With maybe a half a metre left over before the next colour change.

As you may have guessed, I really like this pattern. Though there's no crazy folding, I find it's the closest equivalent to origami in knitting. Precise stitch numbers, decreases and division of stitches gives you a perfect geometric shape—very origami-ey to me.

I wasn't too sure about this dodecahedron as I was working on it's deflated self. The idea of knitting a rainbow child's toy seemed brilliant to me, but really in practise it seemed like I was recreating any generic toy available at nameless-giant toy store. It wasn't until it was stuffed and finished that the magic really happened.

Pattern: Celestine
by Norah Gaughan
Materials: Regia Nation Color 5399
Start Date: March 6, 2010
End Date: March 11, 2010

Instead of working as stated in the pattern for the last point (stuffing the toy, picking up stitches along all sides of previous points and knitting the last point), I cast on 11 provisionally, picked up stitches along the 4 other sides of the previous points and knit it un-stuffed. Trying to knit something already stuffed was no fun last time, so I thought I'd try something else.

This worked out pretty well. One side gives a decent enough gap to stuff, grafting's not such a big deal as it's not such a big seam and it's kind of like when sewing a stuffed toy where you leave a little gap to stuff through and stitch it closed after. I dare you to try and find the grafted seam. Actually I don't even remember where it is any more so if you think you've found it, I couldn't tell you if you were right or not.

The biggest challenge working with a rainbow of colours was making sure I didn't end up with two points of the same colour next to each other. Originally I worked in the usual rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, etc. But when I got to the 3rd level of points, I ran into trouble. I ended up knitting and ripping 3 or 4 points before finally figuring out on paper what colour should go where. And at this point I switch to reverse rainbow sequence (purple, blue, green, etc) to get things to work out properly. This yarn has 7 colours in its rainbow, so there's only one red and one purple point. It's still sufficiently rainbow-ey for my tastes.

I'm not sure exactly how this worked out, but somehow the points on this dodecahedron are quite noticeably pointier than the first one. It could be that my stuffing skills were better this time around. I really spent time stuffing each point individually before stuffing the center of it. Or it could just be a gauge thing. The Regia is quite a bit finer than the Opal I used before.

Have I mentioned yet that I have a bobbi bear in mind for my next toy project? Who wouldn't want (to make) a 2 foot teddy bear? I think it would be fun in some Cascade Eco Wool...

16 March 2010

Hooping it up

This past weekend, I got together with some friends and had an embroidery themed crafterday. It's the earliest I've been up on a Saturday in many many months. And I may have over packed. Especially as we trekked out to West Montreal. I went a bit nuts buying veggies at the grocery store. But those pre-cut trays were just too sad!

So after some high test tea, delicious pastries, cheeses and digging into the mountain of veggies, we started in on the embroidery. I've managed to accumulate quite a bit of embroidery materials without having done any since customising my back pack free hand in grade 8. In addition to the many books and patterns, I somehow have a pretty decent stash of embroidery floss and fabrics for embroidering.

I ended up picking a pattern from my Aunt Martha's Hot Iron Transfers, The Mystic Mermaid 3984. Aunt Martha still print some of their designs from the 40's/50's/60's and I just LOVE these mermaids. For some reason I'm a big mermaid fan.

The fabric I have is mostly freebies, leftovers and charity shop finds. For this piece, I picked some leftover muslin from when I finally hemmed my Ikea curtains. It's fairly open weave so easy to stitch I guess.

Since I've never officially embroidered anything (other than some bad cross stitch when I was a kid that never got finished), I was a bit intimidated with where to start. I opted to make some small decisions with stitch choice and colour on some of the smaller details so there wouldn't have to be too much backing up and re-stitching. I started with the bubbles.

Moved to the fishes and mermaid scales. This is where I decided to do some statin stitch practice on the fins.

Then I decided to try a big part: the hair. For most of the embroidery, I used 2 plies of floss, but I wanted a bold outline of the hair, so went with 3 plies in a stem stitch. I did the big outline first, carefully. Then did the detail lines with 1 ply also in stem stitch. I'm really very proud of how it turned out.

Another fun detail was the mermaid's tail. I found this fishbone stitch in my stitch bible and gave it a try. Some how my stitches were more horizontal than they should have been. And the transfer was too light in this section so I kind of made up the outline on the fly so it's not as nice as I'd like. But I'm happy with the effect.

The very last part that I worked on were these fish hooks. They were fun. Because of the scale, I worked them all with 1 ply of floss with various stitches. Though I think that fuschia one is a bit wild for the rest of the calm colours in the rest of it.

This project has made me all embroidery crazy. I've already got a bunch more planned. Even some cross stitch. But what should I do with all those small leftover pieces of floss? It seems such a waste just to toss a perfectly good length of it. I'm conceiving of some kind of ziploc system or something. Now I wish I saved all those little jewelry/spare button/teeny ziplocs a person gets in life. I might have some kicking around somewhere.

12 March 2010

Mr. Peabody on the radio again.

So I went to the radio-canada headquarters, and was interviewed once again about knitting. follow the link here, and scroll forward to about 17 minutes into the segment for the beginning...

for your listening pleasure

- Mr. Peabody

8 March 2010

Perfect socks

I rashly cast on a pair of socks last week. It couldn't be avoided. As soon as I saw this incarnation (Ravelry link), I just had to dig out my Regia Nation Color and cast on right away. As the pattern is written as toe-up, I decided to make them Magic Loop too.

The toes look a little strange once started. My knitting curled as I was working on the toes reminding me of that iconic image of the Wicked Witch of the East from the Wizard of Oz. The very beginning part is really just to fit your big toe (purple stripe) and then as you start up the bias increases, you make the part that will fit the rest of your toes (teal stripe). And there's really a right sock and left sock simply from this bias shaping. Though the instructions are the same for both socks until you get to the beginning of the heel instructions.

These socks never got boring. It might seem like the increase on one side and decrease on the other would become second nature, there's so much more to do in this pattern to make them into socks. Increases to make the gussets leading up to the heel. All kinds of extra increases to make the fabric for the heel which is then grafted to itself. Then once you've grafted, you work decreases to get back to your original stitch number. Work straight for a bit (if you want longer socks) and then work short rows to straighten things out before you start up on the ribbing. Never a dull moment.

Pattern: Skew
by Lana Holden
Materials: Regia Nation Color 5399
Modifications: Magic loop baby.
Start Date: March 1, 2010
End Date: March 6, 2010

Oh and can I rave a bit about the resulting socks? They are awesome! If the fit works out well like mine did, then you might find you have the perfect pair of socks. Yes, I'll repeat that. Perfect pair of socks. I do find that putting them on is on the tricky and snug side, but once they're on, they're awesome. Because of the strange slanted toe, there's no seam to restrict foot movement. And the stretch of the fabric compliments the stretch of the toes — sideways. It's all the beauty of bare feet, but like warm.

The bias of the fabric on the foot and leg and close fit of the sock keep these socks from having the usual handknit sock slouch that I usually get. You know what I mean. Socks are normally tugged up nicely for photos, but when worn, especially as you walk, they start to slouch and look sloppy. Lastly these are one of the few pairs of handknit socks that I have that will actually fit into my favourite sneakers. Needless to say, I've been wearing these socks for 3 days straight. I think I should cast on another pair right away. I think I've found my go to sock pattern.

6 March 2010

Happy Birthday Scraps

Yes another birthday related post. Last one for like a whole year. I'm pretty sure about that.

My birthday present from Mr. Peabody was this awesome 5lb. box of scraps bought on eBay. Apparently he's really bad about keeping secrets and told me all about it minutes after he won the auction during a family dinner evening. For the record, I would never have know anything about it had he not flat out told me about it. I just thought his constant checking of his computer was just plain old technoholic behaviour.

What made this box of scraps absolutely the perfect gift is that it's scraps of 1930's reproduction fabrics including a bunch of awesome Aunt Grace fabrics. I have been known to randomly blurt out in a loud tone "Aunt Grace!" during various online fabric perusing Les courtepointistes evenings. "AUNT GRACE!"

When the box finally made it's way to Montreal, I spent a good 2-3 hours taking out each individual scrap and sorting it according to colour. This categorising of fabric appealed to Mr. Peabody's natural tendencies so he quickly took charge of defining the individual colour categories. It was good times.

This is how the box has sat on a bookshelf in my apartment since. Sorted and waiting. Until this past weekend when I finally got around to washing the fabric.

I was advised not to use my washing machine because of the scrappy nature of the scraps and wanting to preserve the fabric as much as possible. Don't want to lose fabric to the usual edge unravelling that happens in the spin cycle. So into the wash tub they went.

I split the box into 2 batches and transferred the wet fabric to drain in my colander before they met with the iron. After spending several hours ironing and trimming off the ravelings, Mr. Peabody came by and was concerned with me leaving the fabric in big wet piles as I made my way through the trimming and ironing.

His first objection was how wet my fabric was while I was ironing it. Pshwa. There was no scalding of fabric! But whateves. Next he told me that my fabric would mould by the time I got to ironing all of it. So he went to work hanging up the scraps on my laundry rack. Quickly the rack filled up and we moved onto filling up the backs of my kitchen chairs with the rest. Just hanging up fabric took us nearly an hour to hang it all up!

Next I'll be re-sorting, re-folding and re-packing my box of scraps. Then it will be time to start imagining future projects. Postage stamp charm quilts. String pieced quilts. Any suggestions?

5 March 2010

Green stripey dodecahedron ball

Sparked by my recent rediscovery of how awesome origami is and making awesome bunny toys, I couldn't resist casting on to make my very own dodecahedron star ball.

Before I knew it I was ready to stuff the star and add the last point.

My only modification to this pattern was to start with a crocheted provisional cast on instead of the usual long tail. This isn't a huge change, but since stitches are picked off each previous point when starting the next one, it just makes sense. Why not use a provisional cast on? There were some resulting holes at the edge of the picked up stitches but the yarn ends from the cast on were nearby and put to service when they were worked in.

Pattern: Celestine
by Norah Gaughan
Materials: Opal Rainforest 6-ply
Start Date: February 21, 2010
End Date: February 26, 2010

I found knitting the last point was the least fun. Once the bulk of the star had been stuffed and the stitches were picked, it became quite difficult to manoeuvre and knit. I'm quite sure that the knitting became distorted as I was working on the point. Especially when I was knitting around the stuffin. When making this again, I'm going to do the crazy, more work thing, knit the last point separately and graft it to the rest of the stuffed star, stuffing the point as I finish the seam of the last side. Maybe it's a bit overkill, but I swear the last point is a bigger than the rest.

I see more of these knitted shapes in my future. The next one will likely be out of my rainbow striping regia nation color. Hopefully it would work out that each point is one color. That would be awesome.

4 March 2010

Miffy for me

So I while I was able to part with the first bunny I knit, it was only possible because I immediately cast on another one for myself. Here she is an (almost) exact replica of bunny n°1.

Pattern: Well-Dressed Bunny
by Barbara Prime
Materials: Tongue River Sock Yarn in sheep's brown
Briggs & Little Sport in light green
Modifications: Worked with smaller yarn. Knit dress in the round with fewer stitches in the body and bib of the dress.
Start Date: February 8, 2010
End Date: February 27, 2010

When knitting this bunny, I used a crocheted provisional cast on for each piece. Since the pieces are seamed up and the pattern has you make a shoulder seam of the cast on, I decided provisional would be the way to go. Then I could graft instead of seam, reducing some bulk. For the tops of the feet, I used scrap yarn instead of casting off. Later I grafted these stitches to each other for a nice finish to the top of the foot. Since this is the visible part of the foot I think it's worth the extra effort.

In the end when seaming up, I opted to string the yarn through all the held stitches twice and pull them snug together and worked the ends in. It worked pretty nicely on most of the pieces. When I get to bunny n°3, I think I'll repeat this on all pieces except for the feet. I think grafting is the better call for both the top and bottom of the feet.

I used the same modifications for the dress as I did for bunny n°1. Casting on 54 sts and working in the round for the specified number of rows. Then working K2tog, K2, SSK as the decrease round before the garter waistband. The bib was worked with 4 less stitches.

The embroidered X mouth is inspired by the Miffy books that I had as a kid. If you want an actual Miffy pattern, they do exist. I might have to make a proper Miffy for myself.

The eyes and mouth on this bunny didn't turn out quite as great as on bunny n°1. Well I'm actually pretty happy with the eyes. They're almost a proper satin stitch. The mouth on the other hand. It's crooked. The gray thread I chose makes the X seem slightly more sinister and I'm not entirely sure about the stitch I ended up using (kind of a ghetto improvised back stitch).

Oh and the head's a bit more cockeyed and floppier too. Maybe that's why Mr. Peabody suggested that this bunny's name should be Flopsy. I'm not so sure though. I already had a fish called Flopsy, part of a Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail school of tetras. Any suggestions?

3 March 2010

Thar she grows!

The Hawaiian Appliqué quilt continues to grow one block at a time. Here's the latest blocks done by me and Mr. Peabody:

by Mr. Peabody

Ti leaf Hawaiian Appliqué Pillow Block by Mary's Treasures
Start Date: December 30, 2009
End Date: February 12, 2010 approximately

I work on my blocks a bit here and there. I think if I worked on nothing else, I could finish appliquéing a block in about a week of evenings. But the current pace of a block every few weeks suits me just fine at the moment. I feel no pressure for a finished quilt just yet.

White Ginger Block by Pokilani
Start Date: January 3, 2010
End Date: Mid February 2010

It's a nice background project. A little bit of appliqué here and there finishes each block. Then it's time to prepare another appliqué snowflake and get going again. Before I know it, all the blocks will be done and it will be time to quilt the sucker. I have all that echo quilting to look forward to. I think it's going to be a blast. But for the moment, I'm enjoying the rather mindless needle-turn appliqué. Doing it by hand gives a much nicer result than by machine, no question.

2 March 2010

Origami obsession rekindled

I blame it all on this post from Design*sponge. If I didn't recently subscribe to it, my origami obsession would have stayed dormant for who knows how long. But it's been rekindled as it were. And I spent a weekend building many a icosahedron of various sizes.

Let's get back to the inspiration. I am in absolute awe of what Fracisca Prieto has done with somewhat simple modular origami forms. If you are at all interested, please go take a look in the graphic art section with particular attention to her Shakespeare, Between folds/envelopes, The Antibook and the anti-poster projects. I totally dig the obsessive collecting of envelopes to create a larger composition. I'm all over the taking an old found book and reworking it. But what really sparked my interest to start off was her antibook/antiposter projects. I just HAD to make me one of those crazy icosahedrons.

After searching You Tube during lunch at work I found this tutorial.

Once I got home from work, I busted out my Muji origami papers and got to work. The Muji squares are about 6 in. so the the pieces for making each of the interlocking units are 3 x 6 in. This makes an icosahedron that measures about 5.5 in. across.

I was pretty good at getting one of each colour on every side. There's one side that has double red and another that has double green. I figure it's not too bad for a first time making this shape.

But of course I wasn't satisfied with just having one icosahedron. I HAD to make another one. A bigger one! The biggest size paper I have is 11 x 17 in. so I took 11 in. sqaures, divided them in half and went to work. Here's the resulting ginorma-icosahedron. It measures about 10.25 in. across.

You're probably wondering about the colouring. Well Francisca's antibook and antiposter add printing to the blanks to make this shape. So I started to analyse the shape itself. There's numbers on each facet (3 facets make up each face). There's one facet of each colour on every face. As you can see I started to match up the facets of the same colour for each point created and alternated the neighboring points, but this doesn't quite work out with 3 colours. One colour for the central point, and two alternating colours doesn't work out because there's 5 neighboring points. I might redo this model with more colours. Like one colour per point.

You can also see my hairy marks at the intersection of facets marking the number of sides. All this analysis is so I can figure out how the pieces relate to each other. Necessary information if like Francisca, I want to map some artwork onto this shape.

I also have visions of making a room sized version that people can go inside and maybe even make it move around like a giant hamster ball. Wouldn't that be rad?

Mr. Peabody on the Radio

On the weekend Radio-Canada was at Effiloché talking about the 'new' knitting craze. Mr. Peabody was quoted. You can listen to it here. Please note that Radio Canada is the French CBC radio. You can hear Mr. Peabody speaking French on French radio with French people. It's all official and everything.

Good job sir!