23 October 2012

Finally Quilting

So way back in June of 2011, I started fussy cutting some unicorns and started putting together some blocks. Slowly but surely from then until lets say August of this year, I put together enough blocks to make a queen sized quilt top. I don't have many pictures of the block assembly, but I'll still tell you how things went down on this project.

Though I loved the colourful blocks, they started to look rather too busy and overwhelming all on their own. So I decided when I was nearly halfway to make complimentary muslin bordered blocks to alternate with the colourful ones.

Back in May, I went into intense production mode on the muslin blocks while out in the Quebec countryside in Charlevoix during a long weekend. When I got back, I realised that I only had a handful of blocks left in order to have a finished quilt top!

Scrappy Block

At this point excitement really kicked in. Having borrowed a friends floor to lay out all the blocks, I made a very scientific analysis of the balance of colours in the quilt and determined what there needed to be more of. Finished said remaining blocks. Then on an intense crafturday, I went through and re-trimmed all the blocks (moderately epic), then proceeded to leave them in a nicely trimmed pile for at least a month, if not two before attacking them on a sewing Saturday.

Rather than going through hours of possible quilt layouts on the floor, I decided to continue the "not too precious" process of this quilt. I separated the colour combinations into separate piles and systematically sorted the blocks into rows. After sorting them, I looked through them briefly to prevent too many repeating colours in the same row. Then I went to town sewing them together. By the end of the day I had a finished quilt top.

My brother let me raid his stash of fabrics to put together the quilt back. I combined some crazy 30's reproduction rabbits with some pink woven ginghams and mystery fibre denim for the backing.

Quilt Back

I've really earned the quilting moniker of Miss Cut while working on this quilt. At many stages in the process, I've stopped thinking just long enough to screw up my cutting. All the quilt blocks are bigger than originally planned because my quilting ruler is 6 inches wide and not 5 (Miss Cut number one). When making the backing strips, I forgot to start measuring at the 0 on my cutting mat (not the first time THAT's happened either) and had to sew an extra seam to get the proper width needed (Miss Cut number 2). THEN when measuring for the final length of each strip, I totally came up with some random number that wasn't long enough and ended up with extra seams again! (Miss Cut number 3).

Not that it really matters in the end. The quilt is pretty scrappy even without a few extra seams here and there. It's pretty funny how I seem to lose my brain completely at some stages of the process.

It's (almost) a quilt!

So I managed to get the back done in time to spend Canadian Thanksgiving weekend putting together the quilt sandwich. And because I'm a giant nerd, spent nearly a day trimming all the extra threads from the seams and raveled edges of the fabric before finally basting it together. Those little raveled threads at the edge of a project are my number 1 pet peeve, and I just couldn't knowingly leave them on the inside of the quilt. Not that it really matters, they're on the inside of the quilt where no one will see them, but I'll know that they're there. It's like a Tell-Tale Heart thing.

So since Thanksgiving (mid October), I've been hand-quilting this quilt. And I'm even going as far as echo quilting the muslin blocks. I tried one block and love the result so much that I find it totally worth the extra effort.

<3 hand quilting ripples.

I'm sure some people will think I'm nuts for hand-quilting this, but they probably haven't seen my slowly-growing Hex-a-quilt that I've been working on since the spring of '09. I much prefer the look of hand quilting to machine quilting, so it's worth the extra time and effort. And half the blocks have reasonable outline quilting in crochet cotton, which is remarkably fast to do. I often finish quilting 3 or 4 blocks in an evening.

Quilted Block

Outline Quilting Detail

Quilted Block

12 July 2012

Slanty Winter Cross Stitch

I've been sewing a lot. I've actually been working on my army of dresses. And even completed a few which I've been wearing A LOT since their completion. The one thing I haven't really done it take ANY pictures of them. I'll get to it at some point. Honestly I haven't quite figured out the best place in my new apartment to take such pictures. I miss the lighting in my old place.

Here's some embroidery instead:

Finished sampler

There is a recurring theme with me. Get a sampler kit. Work on it furiously for a while. Get to a frustrating point then set it down for several months.


Then pick it up again, forcing myself to finish before a new one arrives. I suppose that it's better than leaving half finished embroideries to stack up.

Tea & T

This particular sampler got stalled when I realised that I miss counted when starting the top two lines and it got all slanty. Unfortunately the discovery was made once the top was all finished and I didn't want to risk running out of floss.

First bit

And maybe there's something about leaving mistakes, blah, blah, blah, human-made, yadda, yadda, yadda. The only issue is that they're out of line. Small error with big results. However, it still seems stupid to take it all out for a counting issu. Or maybe I'm just being lazy. Whatever. I'm keeping my slanty cross stitch and starting something new.


Pattern: Winterwoods ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler by Alica Paulson
Materials: Cashel Linen & Weeks Dye Works cotton embroidery floss
Start Date: March 30, 2012
End Date: July 8, 2012

Something more honey badger-y.

Eff eff

24 May 2012

SXSW Swag Hack

My office sent a couple of people to the SXSW Interactive Conference this year. When they came back, they were quite generous in sharing all the free swag they got. I really liked the artwork on the t-shirt I picked, but it was WAY too big for me to wear and way too awesome for this shirt to be destined to be a nightshirt. So instead, I brought in to Effiloché for my sewing tutorials one Saturday. Made a sketch of how I thought it could be converted into to a dress and Anne helped me make the transformation. Original SXSW Swag T-shirt My brief sketch of how I wanted to "hack" the t-shirt. T-shirt Hack Schematic I used this old pajama t-shirt as a guide of how I wanted the finished t-shirt dress to fit. Original Swag T-shirt & Favourite PJ top The armholes, neckline and side seams were all modified. I also added in 6 vents in a contrasting grey jersey fabric to create a full skirt. Ta-da! This T-shirt is now a dress Pattern: Improvised from favourite PJ t-shirt top Materials: XL T-shirt brought back from SXSW by a coworker Date: March 17, 2012 I plan to draw up the instructions of how I made this transformation but this post has been waiting in draft limbo for too long. Maybe I'll post them at some point.

26 March 2012

Daisychain Sampler

I started this crewel work sampler with gusto back in July when I first received the kit. Basically I was completing a letter a day until I got to "Q". While working on the "Q", I got discourage by the lazy daisies I was making and the sampler got put away for several months and I worked on other things for a while.

Finished Daisychain Sampler
Pattern: Daisychain ABCs Crewelwork Sampler Kit by Alica Paulson
Materials: Appleton 2-ply crewel yarn
Start Date: July 14, 2011
End Date: January 29, 2012

But after getting back from Christmas vacation, I really wanted to finish some of the many many many projects I have that lying around in progress and half started. That combined with the announcement of a new cross stitch sampler made me get over my lazy daisy angst and get back to work!

1. Daisychain A, 2. Daisychain B, 3. Daisychain C, 4. Daisychain D, 5. Daisychain E, 6. Daisychain F, 7. Daisychain G, 8. Daisychain H, 9. Daisychain I, 10. Daisychain J, 11. Daisychain K, 12. Daisychain L, 13. Daisychain Q, 14. Finished Alphabet: F - T, 15. Daisychain R, 16. Daisychain S, 17. Daisychain T, 18. Daisychain U, 19. Daisychain V, 20. Daisychain W, 21. Daisychain X, 22. Daisychain Y, 23. Daisychain Z, 24. Finished Alphabet: A - O, 25. Finished Alphabet: L - Z
Daisychain Q

Within a week of picking it up again, I had finished it off. And I really don't know what my problem with those lazy daisies was. The finished "Q" turned out just fine. I'm such a weirdo sometimes.

23 February 2012


I only just realised that I haven't posted about this spinning project like AT ALL. Weird. Especially since it took me nearly a year to spin all 4 oz. of fibre (lame).

I started spinning this bump of fibre back at the end of March 2011. Yes that's right, nearly a year ago. I decided to try spinning up some rolags using my new wheel ratios I'd gotten at Xmas.

Banana Rolags

I've been playing with long draw for a bit, but wasn't really feeling like I had quite gotten the hang of it. I thought there was possibly some magic of the rolag that was somehow missing with my previous attempts sans rolag. I think my current comfort zone is some kind of semi-supported long draw. But long-draw looks so badass that I want to go whole hog.

How badass is that? How can I resist such awesomeness?

Well I'm working on it. Something I've found when working with the faster ratios is that it takes much more force to get the wheel going "optimal" speed. So for most of the spinning of this yarn I think I was only spinning at half mast. I'm going to work on that.

Singles from Rolags

Though making the rolags was quicker and more relaxing that I anticipated, they sucked to store while I spun them up. I only prepared half the fibre into rolags and it still took me several months to spin through them all. Life gets in the way.

Banana Split Singles

I spun directly from the roving for the second half of the fibre. So 1 ply was woolen spun and the other was worsted spun. As it turned out, the first woolen spun single was much much longer than the second worsted spun single. I wonder if there was some magic that happened in the rolag preparation that extended the fibre. Extra air whipped in or something. I was pretty even with dividing up the original fibre (or so I thought).

Spinning again

Remember that time back in September when I declared a personal spin-in? Yeah that never quite worked out. Again, life gets in the way. In fact, Fiona (my wheel) has been sitting in a nice sunny corner of the apartment pretty much since then.

20 wpi Laceweight

Until last week when I reminded myself how relaxing spinning yarn is while discussing zen activities with a coworker. I became determined to finish up the second half of the fibre (DETERMINED) and plied up ALL the yarn in the space of a few days (DETERMINED).

So so fine!

2-ply (one ply worsted, one ply woolen)
'Banana Split' Wild Hare Fiber Studio
100% Blue Faced Leicester
4 oz.
Approx. 780 yards
20 wpi

After washing, thwacking and drying, I measured and calculated the yardage. Approx. 780 yards of 20 wpi! I kind of blew my own mind. I know I've been spinning finer and finer lately, but that's NUTS! I'm so excited. I'm going to run off and spin more yarn now. For reals ;)

20 WPI!!! Ok, last time. Now, I spin more!

21 February 2012

Mom's Xmas Yellow Shawl

Folded Shawl Here's one last Christmas present that I knit. For the record, there was a high likelihood that this would have actually been finished in time to be wrapped for giving on Christmas day. It seemed a bit on the smallish side, so I wanted to check before finishing it off. Shawl on the railing Turns out I was right. My mom requested it be "much much longer" so I continued knitting until I ran out of yarn. That's an extra 10 pattern repeats on both sides. That's like 80% MORE shawl in this shawl! Yellow shawl Then I had a blocking conundrum. I usually do. Though I now live in a bigger place, I also have a roommate. We use our couches regularly and have no spare beds. I was going ready to block this sucker at my brother's place when I realised that this shawl would probably do with a slight steam blocking. Because of the 40% cotton content, it was pretty relaxed already. More shawl detail! So then some steam. BOUM. Blocked. BOUM. Took some pictures. BOUM. Mailed it off. BOUM. Central panel Pattern: North Sea Shawl by Cheryl Oberle from Folk Shawls Materials: Manos del Uruguay Serena in 2044 (baby yellow) Start Date: November 6, 2011 End Date: January 22, 2012 A week later I received this last picture taken by my dad to my cell phone while on the phone with my mom where she was telling me she thought the shawl was now TOO long. Um. What? I convinced her to wear it once and then decide. Turns out she's fine with the length (even if it's longer than she anticipated). What? Where's the flash? It could have been nice to have some additional repeats in the central pattern now that I think about it, but it's still nice as it is.

10 February 2012

Woodgrain Slippers

Tops & bottoms This is another project that I knit during Christmas vacation. And it was also a gift (that was given as balls of yarn). Finished slippers The pattern is something of my brother's invention. It may have been figured out from some old slippers someone brought to him. I can't remember. The knitting was super fast and it's a pretty simple slipper formula. One of these days he might finally write it up. These were not knit for my feets: They're not for me. Pattern: Woodgrain Slippers Materials: Cascade 220 Heathers held double Purchased At: Effiloché Start Date: January 5, 2012 End Date: January 7, 2012 The slippers were pretty quick yet satisfying to knit up. They have quite a nice squooshy finished texture. I might (one day) eventually have to make myself a pair.

30 January 2012

Dad's Fair Isle Mittens

Finished Mittens

During the holidays, I managed to knit and delivery a couple of Christmas presents. I had planned to make my dad some Fair Isle gloves for sometime now. I've had the yarn hanging around for a few years now but somehow never got around to it. But this was the year! I had kind of been waiting for Elliphantom to release a pattern for these Snorri gloves she knit back in 2010. Instead I grabbed some chart paper, zoomed in on the few pictures available and made a chart of the main motif for my own use.

I've been knitting my own mittens since I was a kid. I've been a process knitter from a very early age. Most of my projects were grabbing yarn my mom had lying around, some needles and a pattern that I found intriguing. Making it for someone to actually use was beside the point. Except when it came to mittens. Nearly every winter, I'd end up knitting myself a new pair of mittens. In high school, I even knit some for my classmates. Mittens are fun, fast & practical.

My mom had an old Patons toddler's mitten pattern book I used to follow every time. Though I'd have to invent some numbers so they'd fit my hands. I would figure out the next set of numbers in the series of sizes to end up with something big enough for my hands. Maybe not the most precise method, but store bought mittens never fit very well either. The mittens in this book were pretty basic and all were seamed. I found out about knitting in the round when I discovered a pattern for socks in my mom's collection in grade 6. Once I had a handle on that, all subsequent mittens were adapted to knit in the round.

1. Snowflake Pattern, 2. Top Decreases, 3. Mitten Side, 4. Mitten Texture

All this is to say that I'm pretty comfortable with how mitten knitting works. And pretty comfortable with gloves too. I ended up inventing my own pattern based on the measurements I had of my dad's hands and the Snorri glove chart. Since I was knitting on the fly, I wrote a pseudo-pattern for myself so that I'd know what'd I'd done once it came time to start the second mitten. It's a new habit I've developed for the past few sweater patterns that I've heavily adapted.

I started knitting these mittens a week or so before leaving on holiday. I ended up making the switch from gloves to mittens as a time saver. I like them better as mittens (always a better choice for a prairie winter). I had the almost one complete mitten done. (Probably should have taken a picture at this stage).

The mitten seemed too long to me and I wasn't super thrilled with how the top decreases were working out. The usual Fair Isle triangular top wasn't working for my so much. While on holiday, I took it out and redid the decreases, changing out paired decreases with single double decreases at each side of the mitten. I played with them a bit to get a nice rounded top. I'm pretty happy with the result. I'm pretty pleased with the resulting contrast between traditional colourwork in a non-traditional mitten.

1. Dad & Mittens, 2. Dad & Mittens, 3. Tut & Mittens, 4. I think he likes them

I think my dad likes them a lot too. He got pretty silly posing in them. I hear that he's been wearing them every day since my parents returned home from the holidays.

Finished MittensPattern: Dad's Fair Isle Mittens (with snowflake pattern from Eliphantom's Snorri Gloves). Materials: Drops Alpaca in 0607 & 2020
Purchased At: River City Yarns
Start Date: December 12, 2011
End Date: January 5, 2012

26 January 2012

Finished in 2011

I'm late posting this, but I'd rather post late than not at all. Here's all of 2011's craftiness in one mega-photo mosaic:

1. Baby Llama cowl, 2. Clover Walk 2-ply, 3. Goodale Sweater, 4. Pua Kenikeni Block, 5. Kukui Block, 6. Cross-stitch Floppy, 7. Joe's Floppy Disk, 8. Nini's disk, 9. Susie's disk, 10. Silk-tacular skein, 11. Skew Too, 12. Dainty Flower Embroidery, 13. A disk for me, 14. Handspun Fingerless Gloves, 15. Clumsy Beret, 16. Spriteling Mystery Shawl, 17. Personalised Cassette Tape, 18. Madeleine's Quilt Folded, 19. Kyr's Quilt Folded, 20. Entrelac Baby Blanket, 21. Instant Baby Sweater, 22. Handspun Stack, 23. Banana Split Singles, 24. Pea Vines Shawl, 25. Teddy Rhino, 26. Poignant Elephant (with a dress), 27. Charity Twig Gloves, 28. The Mock-up Fairy™, 29. Mom's Thanksgiving Shawl, 30. Celes Shawl

So that's 14 knitted projects (1 cowl, 2 sweaters - adult & baby, 1 pair of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, 1 hat, 4 shawls, 1 baby blanket and 2 toys), 2 Hawaiian Appliqué blocks, 5 cross-stitch diskettes, 1 cross-stitch cassette, 5 skeins of handspun, 2 baby quilts (group projects!), and one dress (FINALLY) finished.

Surprisingly productive for how busy a year it turned out to be. I really didn't think I got that much crafting done.

2011 Catch-up: a couple of shawls

Both of these shawls got pushed aside at various points for other more pressing projects (usually things to make for other people) and took way longer than they should have to finally block and photograph. You can see the creases in the photos as proof of how long they hung around before I finally took pictures.

Finished Pea Vines Shawl

1. Finished Pea Vines Shawl, 2. Shawl Detail, 3. Pea Vines Detail, 4. Finished Pea Vines Pattern: Pea Vines by Anne Hanson Materials: Tosh Merino Light in Rose Purchased At: Purl Soho Start Date: May 14, 2011 End Date: September 16, 2011 There is an error at the beginning of the Pea Vines, but I didn't find it worth ripping out most of the border in order to fix it. I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, but it did take lots of concentration. Also, it took me WAY too long to start writing down what row I was on. I lost my place so many times that I lost count.

Finished Celes Shawl

1. Celes Shawl, 2. Center detail, 3. End bit, 4. Finished Celes Shawl Pattern: Celes by Jared Flood Materials: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in 1294 (blue-green) Start Date: September 18, 2010 End Date: November 6, 2011 This shawl sat dormant for a long time because I ran out of yarn once I reached the border. I continued on almost immediately after getting another skein. The border is a very slight different shade of teal as the new skein was a different dye lot from the first. I don't find it bothersome as the entire border is knit with the new lot. If I had started the new skein partway through knitting the border, it would have been far more noticeable.

23 January 2012

2011 Catch-up: Twiggy Fingerless Gloves

Charity Twig Gloves
Every year at work we have a charity auction to raise money for Centraide/United Way and every year I offer to make a custom knit accessory for whomever wins the item. In the past I've made a scarf and a knitted bunny. This year, I was asked to knit some fingerless gloves for a co-worker as her office gets rather cold in the winter.
For the 3rd year in a row, I've offered my knitting services to my co-workers to raise money for the Montreal Centraide/United Way as part of our annual work Charity Auction.
I grabbed some yarn and decided to finally try the Pomatomus stitch pattern as translated into fingerless gloves. The yarn for this was not super exciting when it was in the skein, but was much more exciting once knit up. I enjoyed the stitch pattern so much, that I quickly started another pair for myself!
Mitten Back
Pattern: Nereid Fingerless Gloves (based on Pomatomus Sock Pattern)
Materials: Knit it Up! Vivacious in Chocolate Covered Gobstoppers from Sock Yarn Cinema Club: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Start Date: September 16, 2011
End Date: October 16, 2011
Palm Detail

20 January 2012

2011 Catch-up: The Mock-up Fairy™

Complete with beehive
Yup. Hallowe'en. I wasn't planning on dressing up but a conversation with co-workers while leaving work one day gave me the most perfect idea. Our office social committee came up with the theme of Fairy Tales so I figured I could dress as I wanted, slap on some fairy wings and be a sarcastic fairy. And that's pretty much all I had to do was buy wings.
Sparklie sparkle sparkles
I work as a Graphic Designer here in Montreal and I'm often asked to make "maquettes" or mock-ups for different client presentations. Over the years that I've worked for my company, I've gained the reputation of being the Queen of Maquettes. I've built prototypes of milk cartons, juice boxes, die-cut what-have-you, boxes with drawers and inserts from scratch. All kinds of things. So once I thought a bit more about my costume concept, I realised I had recently completed the perfect dress to become The Mock-up Fairy.
The Mock-up Fairy™
Remember a million years ago when I declared I was going to make an army of dresses but somehow didn't even finish one? Well, I finally finished it a week before Hallowe'en. I decided to postpone its debut until I would wear it as my costume. And it fit the bill perfectly.
Sparklie eyes
I spent sometime researching bee-hive hairdos because what else goes better with my new pair of retro glasses?
The bee-hive
Though all I had to do was buy some wings, I waffled about whether it was worth it. But I made myself go out and ended up getting the biggest, most ridiculous wings I could find. I got in the spirit of things (finally) and bought as many sparkly things to go with: make-up, nail polish, giant plastic ring. I used a tiara I got as a joke V-day present that lives on my desk.
The Mock-up Fairy™ - the full outfit
The costume was widely well received, though I was better recognized as the Fairy Godmother in Shrek. Not quite what I was aiming for, but not a bad serendipitous result.
These wings are sitting compatible
Oh and no one could really believe that I was able to work with my big ass wings, but as you can see from this re-enactment when I got home, that they are quite office chair compliant.