From May 2015

Up next!

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a little while, as I haven’t been sewing and knitting is so dreadfully slow… besides, updates on knitting projects that are, well, uneventful, are rather dull. It would be different if I were working on something really challenging that needed explanations on new techniques and such, but that isn’t the case here.

I do have something new up my sleeve, however. I’ve been wanting a nice quilt for our bedroom for some time, but couldn’t decide what colours to use. Originally, I thought I’d go with olive and burgundy, as we have dark furniture and an olive green wall behind the bed, but that sounded too dark, and was a bit more masculine than I wanted.

Of course, I didn’t think my husband would be terribly keen on a really feminine quilt, either, so that left a lot of fabrics out of the question. No pastels, no girly florals. I didn’t want anything really dark, and I didn’t want to have to repaint the feature wall, so I decided to start with a pattern, and hope that inspiration struck.

© All People Quilt
© All People Quilt

After a lot of looking, I found the High Light quilt pattern, from All People Quilt. I’ve turned to them for patterns before, and I like that they have a good selection of modern quilt patterns, as well as more traditional patterns.

What I liked about this pattern is that the blocks are fairly large, which allows me to use bolder prints. There are plenty of options when you use large blocks! My daughter’s quilt has large blocks, which meant it went together quickly, and I could use pretty much any fabric I wanted.

I also like the yellow sections used in this quilt, as they add pops of bright colour without being overwhelming.

Fabrics for our quilt.
Fabrics for our quilt.

The next step was choosing fabric. I had some fabric in my stash that I quite liked, but had no specific plans for. I brought a swatch of it to the fabric store, and came home with this… The aforementioned fabric is the black and green one on the bottom, by the way. The green in the fabric is similar to, but lighter than the feature wall, so it ties everything together nicely.

The other fabrics are a variety of greys, greens and yellows, with a bit of white mixed in for good measure. Normally I’m not a big fan of yellow, but the yellow fabric is a soft, buttery colour and there won’t be a lot of it, so I think it will work nicely without being too much for my tastes. I think it’ll be a fantastic quilt, and I’m looking forward to starting it. I do still need to plan out my blocks, but they’re pretty straightforward, so that shouldn’t take long. I do need to modify the quilt a little, since we have a queen sized bed with a king sized duvet on it (queen sized duvets are never big enough for a queen sized bed).

An added bonus is that my sister in law started a long arm quilting business a few months back, so I won’t have to struggle with quilting a large piece on my machine. I don’t have backing fabric yet, but that’s no rush, since I haven’t even begun cutting yet.

Quilt schematic.
Quilt schematic.

Here’s the plan for the quilt, since I’m a visual person. As I mentioned, I’m going to have to modify the pattern to make a larger quilt, so I’m adding two extra rows of blocks to make it four blocks long by five blocks wide, instead of three blocks wide. This will give me a quilt that is large enough to cover a king sized duvet.

The border fabric is the green on black floral, which is swatched at the top. The pale yellow floral is the “highlight” fabric. I’m making two different types of blocks, and the fabrics are swatched together. I will need to buy some plain black fabric for the inner borders. This also covers my binding fabric, since I don’t want the binding to stand out from the rest of the quilt.

I’m planning to start cutting my blocks on Monday, as this weekend is going to be very busy with guests visiting. Fortunately, large block quilts like this sew up really quickly, so I could potentially be finished the quilt top by the end of the week, unless I get distracted by something else (which happens on a fairly regular basis).

Rainbows…

My first large free motion quilting project.
My first large free motion quilting project.

When we moved into our new home, I promised my daughter that I’d make her a new quilt. She’d outgrown the cute pink and purple one I made when she was in Kindergarten, so she was pretty happy to hear that she’d be getting a new, more grown up quilt.

Daughter had this idea that she wanted her bedroom to be “like a garden”, so I bought a tree wall decal, painted her walls robin’s egg blue, and got a rug from Ikea that looked like grass. The quilt, which is up in her loft bed, is a rainbow.

Of course, stripes are boring, and I didn’t want to spend all that time and money working on a quilt that she wouldn’t like in a year, so I picked out some fabrics that are more grown up, and somewhere in between pastel and bold…

The pattern I chose is called Window to the Soul Gypsy Caravan, and it is by Amy Butler. The pattern is free, which is a bonus!

Unfortunately, the pattern makes more of a square quilt. I really need to get more consistent about reading finished quilt measurements! Lesson learned!

My daughter's quilt, before adding length.
My daughter’s quilt, before adding length.

It’s next to impossible to photograph a quilt in a loft bed, so these are the best photos I could get of the finished quilt.

Here’s some background on the quilt, which I started quite some time ago…

First post, talking about the planning stages…

Second post, an update and talking about my machine…

Third post, another update…

Fourth post, could it be? Yes, another update…

And the final post on the quilt, the finished pillow sham.

Then nothing. I posted nothing further on the quilt. For shame! Well, I’m remedying that now, aren’t I?

My daughter's quilt. The pattern is by Amy Butler, called "windows to the soul gypsy caravan"
My daughter’s quilt. The pattern is by Amy Butler, called “windows to the soul gypsy caravan”

The quilt, as I mentioned, turned out more square and was therefore a little too short, so I cut off the binding on the top and bottom edges, and added a band of another coordinating fabric to both ends.

How did I add the length? Well, the quilt was already finished, so I had to trim off the binding. Have you ever taken scissors to a quilt? It feels so wrong!!! Anyway, that’s what I had to do, and I lived to tell the tale. Thanks to my friend Andrea, I learned about the “quilt as you go” method, which I was able to adapt to this quilt. Basically, I used this version of the method, but more or less in reverse. First, I sewed the green and teal strips together, then I added them to the purple edge, which previously had been the finished edge of the quilt. I trimmed the extra batting, and used a decorative binding stitch to ensure that I caught everything on the underside of the quilt.

I had lots of the light green from the center left, so I used that, as well as some teal that I found I did not need.

Now the quilt is plenty long enough for daughter’s bed.

Boyden cardigan

Boyden cardigan.
Boyden cardigan.

It’s been a while since I posted, but that’s because I was a busy bee, working on my new cardigan!

The yarn has been in my stash for a while, and it was just recently that I found the perfect pattern for it.

The pattern is Boyden (although for some reason, I keep calling it Camden). The yarn I used, has, sadly, been discontinued. It is Cepholopod Yarns Traveller in the “Groton” colourway.

Sleeve cable detail on Boyden cardigan.
Sleeve cable detail on Boyden cardigan.

This is a really interesting sweater to knit. It has beautiful Celtic inspired cables, on the right front, left sleeve, and right back. The subtle asymmetry is really appealing, as it prevents the sweater from looking too “busy”, which can happen with cabled sweaters, especially in variegated yarn like this.

I did have a few issues with the pattern, but the designer is very available and approachable, and I got my questions answered very quickly. The first issue I had was with the stitch counts. I wanted to make absolutely sure that I had the right number of stitches, but the counts for the right and left fronts were different, and were not listed in the pattern. The extra stitches on the right side were to allow for the cable, so that it wouldn’t pull the button band off-centre. I made a note of this on my Ravelry project page as well.

Cable detail on Boyden cardigan.
Cable detail on Boyden cardigan.

Another issue I had with the pattern was that you’re supposed to end the cable with a certain row, but mine didn’t. I don’t know if I made a mistake somewhere (if I did, I can’t find it) or if there’s an error in the pattern, but the front and back cables are supposed to meet up so that when you graft the shoulders, they flow over the shoulder. Mine appears to be off by a stitch or two. I’m not bothered by it, but if I knit this sweater again, I’ll be more careful.

One thing that I learned on this sweater was how to do closed loop cables. I’d never done them before, and they’re not as hard as they look. I didn’t like the instructions provided with the pattern, as it resulted in a big hole at the bottom of the loop, so I used these instructions instead. The loops turned out quite nicely, I think, however I later found this method, which I will use in the future, as the increases are spread out over two rows, so you’re even less likely to make a hole where you shouldn’t have one.

Back cable detail on Boyden cardigan.
Back cable detail on Boyden cardigan.

I also had issues with the sleeve caps. This particular sweater is knit in one piece for the body, then grafted at the shoulders. You then pick up stitches around the armhole, and knit back and forth across the top of the sleeve. The instructions were slightly unclear on the last row of the sleeve cap, so I’ve made a note on my pattern to ensure that I don’t get stuck again.

All in all, I’m pleased with my sweater. I love the colour, and it is lovely on. The buttons are a perfect match, though the buttonholes are a bit too big, so I’ll have to sew them shut a little bit, or perhaps run yarn through them to prevent them from stretching. I usually wear my cardigans open, but I like having the option of wearing them closed.

I think the only thing I would do differently is to make the body longer. I usually prefer my sweaters to be a bit longer than this one turned out, but I was counting on the superwash yarn growing a bit more than it did. I do find that most cardigans are a bit snug at the bust, so I would probably go up one size if I make this one again. I also find the sleeves a little bit snug, but I frequently have issues with sleeves being too tight, whether I’m knitting or sewing. I probably couldn’t wear a shirt with sleeves under this cardigan without making the sleeves look lumpy.

I would not recommend this as a travel project, unless you can count on having long periods of uninterrupted knitting time. The cables are complex, but fortunately there’s a lot of stockinette once you’re done the cable panels, so you can breeze through a lot of the sweater. I usually prefer smaller projects, like socks or hats for travel knitting anyway.

Would I knit this cardigan a second time? More than likely. I enjoyed knitting it, and the finished result is lovely and very wearable.

Upcoming knits

My daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan… she’s read all of the books several times, including the Hogwarts Library set. She has, of course, seen the movies, but waited until after reading the books. I hate to admit this, but I wasn’t all that interested in the movies when they came out… even though so many people I know were practically jumping out of their skin with excitement. I just didn’t get the appeal.

I’ve since seen most of the movies, and they were good, but I didn’t really get into them much… then I read the books. I started reading them two weeks ago, and finished Deathly Hallows today. I can’t remember the last time I shed so many tears while reading a book!

Daughter has done several sorting hat quizzes online (she’s a Hufflepuff) and so have I (I’m a Ravenclaw). She’s been begging me for a Hufflepuff scarf, and wants a tie as well, because ties are cool, of course.

I decided to humour her and make her a scarf, so I’ll be ordering yarn to make her a year 1-2 Hufflepuff house scarf… I’m using Knit Picks yarn instead of the Cascade 220 called for in the pattern though. This will be the most boring, mindless knit I’ve done in many, many years, and it is going to take eons… they’re long scarves! It’ll be worth it when I see her face when it’s done though, so I’ll soldier on. It’ll be a good travel project.

The other thing I am going to knit her, which was my idea, isOf Hallows and Horcruxes. This sweater is based on the one worn in several scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It should be a fun knit, not too challenging.

I’m tempted to make one  for myself as well, but I think daughter would find that embarrassing.

Maybe I should make myself one in different colours, so that she won’t roll her eyes too hard…

Fortunately, neither of these upcoming projects are surprises… if they were, it would take forever to knit them up, since I wouldn’t be able to do them while she’s home.

A little housekeeping

I’m not currently sewing anything (I have jeans to talk about, but haven’t bought my pattern yet), and I’m knitting a sweater that I’ll post about when it is finished. Rather than letting my blog go quiet, I decided to add a couple of pages of tips, tricks and tutorials.

The first (and so far most useful) page is for sewing information. As I find more useful information on the internet, I’ll add to the collection of links.

The second page is for knitting information.

These pages will grow and become more helpful as time goes on, and the links can easily be accessed in the bar under the header on all of the pages of my blog. I don’t currently have any tutorials myself, but as I start making them, I’ll add them to the relevant pages.