One of six children, I was raised by a busy mom, who instilled in me a love of fabric. Though I learned to sew and knit at a young age, it was the arrival of my first grandchild that pushed me into action. A long-time knitter, I am now ready to explore all things fiber.
I like Spring. I like just about everything about Spring. It’s the time of year when we can sleep with windows open, the days are getting longer and warmer. The earth’s growing things burst forth with an abundance of new growth. Most of that growth starts out in a yellow-green color that I call Spring Green.
This luscious shade can be painted with a mixture of lemon yellow and cool blue pigments.
Last spring, I was inspired by a post on Kate Davies’ blog showing a view from her garden shed. The weather was wet. There were big raindrops dripping down the glass. While the view itself was out of focus, it was radiantly colored – mainly in spring green.
It was so inspiring that I tried to capture the color sequence on a piece of cotton with fabric paint.
I think I was successful. After I painted it, the piece languished on my design wall for a year. I was busy with other projects that had overtaken my attention. But with the coming of spring I feel inspired to return to the subject. The painted cloth will become the background of the art quilt. For the foreground, I will focus on seedlings.
This quilt will challenge my technical abilities as I intend to hand embroider the plantlets using wool yarn and/or cotton floss.
In my last post, I shared a picture of some tweedy wool-silk blend yarn purchased recently. After studying the swatch I made, I thought that it looked like a vintage yarn. This led me to remember the giant Vogue Knitting retrospective book that I received from my daughter last year. Perhaps I can find a vintage type cardigan there.
I had been wanting to make a pattern from this book but could never settle on any of them. Either the pattern required a massive amount of expensive yarn or the design didn’t suit me and my lifestyle. But I now had 1500 yarns of a classic tweed – more than enough for Vogue Knitting. And after carefully studying several likely patterns I chose this one.
Forestry Cardigan appeared in Vogue’s Fall 2008 magazine – an edition that was dedicated to Canadian designers. What a happy bit of symmetry! Fall 2008 was the very season I was re-introduced to knitting. This pairing was meant to be.
I like the coin shaped cables and the shawl collar on this design. But I don’t quite agree with knitting instructions. Vogue has us knit the two fronts and the back separately, and then seam them together. I much prefer knitting front and back in one piece. Also reviewers of this pattern on Ravelry cautioned about errors.
It’s going brilliantly. I love the quality of the fabric this yarn yields. But! I am ALREADY playing yarn chicken! Only 3/4 finished with one sleeve and my first skein is but a hollow version of its former plump self. I’m flummoxed. I am getting the gauge required by the pattern, and for the size I am making I should have over 200 yards of yarn more than needed.
At this time I’m willing to trust the pattern and carry on. After all, this is a long-haul project. With a gauge of 20 stitches by 28 rows, there are a LOT of stitches to go before the end is near. I expect it will be Autumn by the time I finish. And in the meanwhile, maybe I can source one more skein of yarn
I’m told that this week is dedicated to recognizing our local yarn shops. While sadly, there are no yarn shops in my town, I recently returned from Wisconsin. While there I visited two very nice shops and scored these yarns:
In Madison, WI, Lynette Tucker opened her shop Sunset Yarns just last November. While only a few months in business she has done a terrific job creating a cozy and friendly atmosphere for yarn crafters.
In addition to the labels typically offered, she carries locally produced yarns. I browsed these, which included Galpaca and Ewetopia. Home | GalPaca Farm
The Wisco Sock yarn by Ewetopia is one I have knit before, so I picked up one skein in colorway Superior. (as in, the Lake.) I love those soft, watery shades. I also got Berroco Remix light, which is made from 100% recycled fibers. The skeins of Vintage DK in a plum color will be used to make heavy-duty socks for my husband. I am hoping that the high percentage of acrylic in the mix will wear better and last longer than the typical wool-nylon mix.
Next stop was the quaint town of Veroqua where I shopped at the Ewetopia company store. All I can say is Wow! It is truly the yarn lover’s heaven.
In addition to their own label, other Wisconsin yarns and the standard yarn shop yarns are available. They also carry a selection of fleece, tools for felting and many books.
Since I had already purchased some Ewetopia, I was browsing for something different. In the back of my mind I toyed with the thought of another sweater for myself. When I came across the Cascade Roslyn ON SALE, I couldn’t resist it. Cascade is a company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The Roslyn is a DK weight made from 65% wool and 35% silk. Its tweedy texture will be perfect to make a light-weight cardigan useful here in the warm climate of Oklahoma. I chose a leaf-green colorway that reminds me of Autumn.
Now to browse patterns and cast on. I foresee many happy hours in my future, with needles in hand.
Today is the last day of March. I told myself that I would have this KAL done by today. Despite the difficulties of working on the road, the obstacle of my computer WIFI failure and the minefield of working on Someone Else’s Computer, I am ready. Here you see the blocked shawl hung up against a striped curtain.
My daughter agreed to model for me.
The temperatures here in Wisconsin dipped down into the upper 20th last night. At the time of the photo session, it was still only about 45 F. She professed that the shawl is quite warm.
I’m pretty happy with it. I did run out of the dark yarn and had to improvise a bit at lower edge, just above the lacey bind off. I have plenty of pink left. So I can’t call this a stash buster. But it is a unique and graceful design. I recommend this pattern for intermediate knitters.
Since I missed celebrating the equinox on the right date, I am belatedly posting pictures of spring flowers blooming in my yard. This one is the front yarn, showing multiple pansies, some grape hyacinths, and the foliage of daffodils whose blooms got zapped in the late February freeze.
Another view including late blooming daffs that just opened up this week.
Two views of the back yard.
On to more artsy subjects. I may have mentioned that I am taking a course in traditional art. It runs for ten weeks, five of which are devoted to drawing. Since I am nearly finished with the drawing portion of the course, I thought I would share some pages from my sketchbook.
Full disclosure: I am not really working very hard at this, due to other, more deadline-driven projects that have eaten away at my free time. Here are some pages with notes and examples of drawing adult and child portraits.
The first lesson was about still life drawing.
Next came portraits of children. I chose to draw three girls from a photograph I found on Unsplash.com. I was charmed by their expressions.
Last Monday, we moved on to animals. This drawing is based on a magazine photograph – probably National Geographic.
It’s been pretty fun so far. There is a lot light-hearted banter, and no-one is stressing about their performance very much. From feedback I have received, I am encouraged to try more portraits. I’m also ready to have a go at drawing those frisky squirrels which make their home in our trees and regularly steal food from the bird feeders.
After three months, I have finished the pet-friendly quilt that started with this fabric.
Inspired by Rayna Gillman’s improvisational piecing technique and using a combination of log cabin and strip pieced squares, I designed a pair of blocks I call Dog House, Cat Barn.
The blocks finish at 12 inches square. But how can they turn into a bed quilt? After mulling it over for awhile and making several sketches on graph paper, I found that I could fit four blocks across five rows to come up with a twin-size quilt. To create balance, I staggered the rows by four inches with a spacing strip, alternating between left side and right side every row.
I also felt that the balance would improve if the center row was different. Thus was conceived the Pet Condo construction project in “mid-town,” (if you will permit my flight of fancy.)
Four inches of sashing in a grey polka-dot fabric between the rows made a “street,” giving the animal neighbors a nice boulevard for walking over to visit. With my concept complete, I re-named the quilt Animal Friends.
Oh, another group of animal friends were introduced via the background fabric: Our hardworking and very dear bees.
The Animal Friends quilt measures 57 by 84 inches. It was quilted with a combination of walking foot “stitch in the ditch” and free motion stitching on my Bernina.
While the designer was going for a watery look, with insets of lovely lace, I have chosen two yarns that give more of a chocolate cake with pink icing sort of feel.
For my main color, I have Wisco sock yarn in colorway Dark Plum by Ewetopia. The contrast color is an alpaca rayon blend by Berroco called Folio in colorway Cardinal.
Here you see the first swirling lace inset. Doesn’t it remind you of waves? There will be six sections like this in between the garter ridges. So far I find that the stitches required to make these waves are a little tricky, and need to be worked at a much slower pace.
The plan is to finish by the end of June March? It’s doable.
GOTCHA. Okay, I have some personal business to share before I tell you about the last challenge of the Stay at Home Round Robin. Yes, today is my birthday. Mr. Mouse and I were celebrating this occasion, but he has a math problem for you. (I’m not telling my age. But I will give you a clue. I have a 12 year old grandson.) If you like math problems, chew on this: The first integer of my current age times the second integer plus 20 will give you how old I turned today. Good luck!
Now to the quilt top. At the end of the last round I had added log cabin squares to each corner. It looked like this:
I was happy to hear that because I like unity in my work. The center block has a sort-of pinwheel, and now I can echo that shape in the final border.
Of course, I had never made a pinwheel square before. Here is my first one.
The technique I chose was quick, but I ended up with bias edges on all sides of my pinwheel. This meant I needed to be very Careful Not to Stretch them out of shape. And I had 31 more to make, if I wanted the pinwheels on all sides.
Long story short, after careful cutting and lots of spray starch, the pinwheels were done. I sewed them into a border and attached the border gingerly to my quilt.
My finished top is 60 inches square. I’m so pleased! Now I have until March 29th to get it quilted and bound before uploading images to the last link party. I also need to give this quilt a name. Two different thoughts come to mind:
The spinning pinwheels, the combination of hot and cold colors and the scattered stars suggest to me “The Expanding Universe.”
On the other hand, when I studied the patterns and shapes, I think of ancient maps, at a time when the far reaches of the earth were unknown. “The Earth is Flat.” or “Here be Monsters.”
I’d love to hear your choices. Also, anyone who does the math and guessed my age will receive a hand-painted postcard.
You may recall that I was back to experimenting in water color paint earlier this week. Working with carbazole violet, I laid down a wash and then lifted the paint back in vertical lines. Because these looked like tree outlines to me, I added some pencil lines to accentuate the effect.
Yesterday I returned to this sketch. Deciding that I would continue with one color, I started to layer up violet washes between the white lines. This went pretty well, except for the fact that some of the white trunks and branches got covered up. In my mind the painting was ruined. Instead of giving up on it, I let the paint dry and then, following the lines of the trunks, lifted up the paint to find some branches. I stroked some paint horizontally in the foreground to suggest tracks in the snow. Finally I dabbed water and dots of paint in upper area of the paper, splashed on more water and let it dry again. Now I was willing to sign this one.
It’s interesting how much I am learning by doing with these little pieces. I guess it’s the idea that there is no price to pay for failure.