A Sunflower State Retirement Frame of Mind

I have been holding onto this post for over a week… and all the in progress photos too… because I am a secret agent quilter spy!  (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.)  For my 7th finished quilt, I wanted to celebrate an amazing woman, Ben’s mom, Dale.  (For bonus geek points, she is named after Dale Arden, Flash Gordon’s girlfriend.)

Dale has been working for the past 28.7 years with the Kansas State Department of Education.  And so round about mid-August I found a great tutorial on making Dresden Plate Quilts online that made me feel full of confidence that a Sunflower State retiree could actually have a sunflower Dresden quilt.  So off I went to get a Dresden ruler and my fabric palette.

I actually had the brown fabrics already.

I actually had the brown fabrics already.

And for the front of the quilt I made up 9 sunflower blocks.  Mine were 17 inch blocks, which sounds like a weird number, but actually with the borders came out to a nice 60 inch square lap quilt.

And here the front is.. in all its sunny glory!

And here the front is.. in all its sunny glory!

Now here’s why the spy parts come in…. I decided that this should be a secret project, but I wanted to tie in her work with the quilt… so I called her boss (ok I got the assistant to her boss) who patched me through to another co-worker that became my agent on the inside.  She hooked me up with a fine selection of photos, which I added to the back of the quilt.

This is also a good view to see how I did my quilting lines!

This is also a good view to see how I did my quilting lines!

The picture rail on the back brought the yellows and the blue from the front to the back.. and then a small pip on the front, brought some of the backing yellow forward.

I did get a bit lucky in places where I quilted through the picture rail.

I did get a bit lucky in places where I quilted through the picture rail.

I used the same basic method for making the center circles that is illustrated in the tutorial I linked above, to make the leaves on my itty bitty Dresden Quilt tag on the back:

With some creative folding presentation, front of a single square, and the tag got a highlight too!

With some creative folding presentation, front of a single square, and the tag got a highlight too!

I really do need to thank my agent on the inside.  The quilt was mailed on Monday, with expectation of arriving Friday in time for the party they were having.  For whatever reason on Monday I was thinking was an after work thing, and after a few more conversations… realized it was more after lunch in timing.  So the two of us were eyeballing that online tracking like it was overtime of the Super Bowl.  And then… it ticked over from “Out for Delivery” to “The Receiver’s location was closed on the 1st delivery attempt. A 2nd delivery attempt will be made.”  But my Agent on the inside (name withheld because she’s a secret agent… duh!) went above and beyond to drive out and meet the truck and take delivery.  I shall formally file a commendation in her agent personnel file.

Flower Power!

Flower Power!

And now for some technical specs, because as a newer quilter (this is number 7) I find them helpful.  I used up nearly all of my 1/4 yard of each of the yellow petals fabrics, of which I picked out seven different variations.  True 1/4 yards, not fat quarters there.  I also used up 1/2 yard of the dark green in just the lattice work on the front, not including the border. I had originally thought I would do 18-20 inch squares, so I had some blue left over of the 2.5 yards I bought.

Additional Photos in the progress gallery here.

Advertisements

Uh, we had a slight knitting malfunction, but uh… we’re fine….finally updating on the Sweater and Travel knits

So last post I was saying how I was going to probably not finish my Luscious sweater in time… but I will have you know that dedication and several seasons of TV episodes will certainly take you pretty far.  I actually finished all the pieces to my sweater, and was starting to assemble on the 13th.

So stylish!

woohoo!  Look at how cool it is looking!

I am not a tall person.  I come in at just under 5ft 5in.  And after assembling the main drape, I tested out the size and it seemed rather long.  But ever the optimist… I hoped that it would just be a little long and some of that would be corrected in the rest of the assembly.  So I added in the sleeve section and tried it on again.  The tail on me would be dragging on the floor.

......*sigh*.......

……*sigh*…….

Could it be that I was just too short?  I pinned up the side drape…. and nope… it was just the right length.  There is about a foot of difference between the two points.  So needless to say… I didn’t take my sweater on vacation.  So now I am working on garnering up the internal fortitude and creativity in an effort to try and fix it.   As to what went wrong… well I can’t be certain, since I consider myself a more intermediate knitter.  This is after all my second sweater.  My theory, which is based solely on the errors I have found (first two were confirmed by the company that published the pattern – the remaining errors I have still to submit and figured I would collect them all in one email at the end) is that this sweater was not test knit in the larger sizes, and the issue lies someplace in that particular area.   The details of my issues you can read about on this projects Ravelry page.

And so… I did say I was setting it aside while I was traveling and going to work on a shawl, and learn the art of chart reading anyway… right?

About that……. well starting a lace chart project at 3AM at the airport is probably not the wisest idea.  I should have learned from the myriad of times I picked up and put down the Branching Out portions of the Family Tree Baby Blanket while on various flights.  But no… I cast on and got to the second row of the chart and found I’d already made a mistake someplace.  So in Amsterdam I frogged those few rows and cast on again.  And I knit the first 14 rows between there and here right after we got back with our jet lag brain.

But in review… it looks like I have a mistake someplace.  The first section feather points look all nice and pointy:

Kind of a terrible picture... but you get the idea here.

Kind of a terrible picture… but you get the idea here.

But when you get into the second section something has gone clearly awry… my feather points look like a pair of dutch-boy pantaloons.

Seriously?!  ¬.¬

Seriously?! ¬.¬

So its kinda looking like a second frogging.  (For those not in the knitting know… its called frogging because you “Rip-it” out.)  Which brings us to a new joke I heard while in Amsterdam….  You shouldn’t try to explain puns to kleptomaniacs.  They take things literally.

I will see myself out….

To Boldly Go…into Star Trek Quilts

While I could bore you with the details of how Ben suggested we do the Star Trek Reddit gift exchange, and how I am extremely nervous about gifting strangers handmade gifts because I’m afraid they will be seen as the golden macaroni pencil cup.. I think instead I will just post the silly little Captain’s Log Story I sent with my giftee’s quilt (and of course photos!).

Disappearing 4 patch in Trek, Command Gold, Science Blue and Red Shirt

Disappearing 4 patch in Trek, Command Gold, Science Blue and Red Shirt

B Captain’s LogB

Stardate 2264.2

While on our way to check on one of the outlying colonies, Mr. Spock noted the presence of several indicators of intelligent life in an adjoining star system and I’ve decided to check it out.

Stardate 2264.3

The Enterprise has been stopped at the 4th planet in the System. Mr. Scott assures me that the engines are all online but that “She just won’t go!”

Meanwhile, we have been hailed by a being who says her name is Materialanna, representing the Textilian Homeworld. They are claiming we have caused a rent in their space-time fabric and demanding we sew up a suitable patch.

Spock is concerned about the inconsistency of a species that seems to view space-time as a fabric, and yet has the ability to stop a starship.

I have decided at this point to go along with their quilt patch plan, and if nothing else, that will hopefully give Mr. Scott the time he needs to figure out how to get the Enterprise moving again.

Stardate 2264.6

I assigned Dr. McCoy to the seaming of our patch fabric. He mentioned something about “Doctor Not a Seamstress” and “Hospital Not a Sewing Circle!” but after reminding him he had the most stitching experience of anyone, he agreed to take up the task in one of the storage bays.

Quilt #5 is alive!

Quilt #5 is alive!

Stardate 2266.8

The quilt patch is complete! The Textilians have accepted our patch piece and assure us that it will be sent to the proper place and time. Mr. Scott is reporting full function of the Enterprise. Inexplicably, Mr. Spock has noted that all signs of life in this system have ceased to register on his scope.

a

And I made one for Ben's giftee too.  He helped with the layout, and even ironed once!

And I made one for Ben’s giftee too. He helped with the layout, and even ironed once!

Star Trek Into Darkness!  KHAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!!

6th Quilt…… KHAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!!

These two babies are already wrapped up and in the mail.  Normally I wouldn’t post gift items until they were received, but in this case the giftees do not have any idea who is gifting them so it is all still a mystery.  These two are backed with a classic trek fleece which was a first for me and I think they turned out pretty well.  I will update with a link here if they post about getting them.

UPDATE:  Ben’s Giftee posted about getting her items.

UPDATE #2: After no tracking updates since Tuesday… my giftee got his gift!

Enter the Entrelac Zone (and some Luscious Progress)

I took a face your Fears challenge to learn Entrelac.  Which if you are unfamiliar with its a style of knitting that turns out looking like a basket weave texture that you get by picking up and binding off (by knitting combining two stitches into one in pattern) which is unlike counterpanes where you make each unit separate and then assemble.  On the whole most patterns seem to stick with smaller blocks and just knit along for texture, but there are a few items that are really unique out there like the Forest Path Stole which combines blocks of lacy texture.

Most people start out with a nice simple scarf… but I am not most people so I went with… the Nyan Cowl.

Technically I have not finished the Nyan Cowl as I mean to finish the poptart as a nice little pocket for toting around something small, such as your ipod or secret pocket of poptarts or whatever, so that and the finishing touch of affixing the tail to the front need to be done.   I am debating if I should write up this guy as a pattern since he is a bit cute if I do say so myself.

Since I wasn’t quite 100% on how seriously I should have actually approached the challenge, I also decided that I’d start a small baby blanket with the still large quantity of baby yarns I have been gifted in my stash so here is the early preview:

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

I also have some updates on my Luscious Sweater since my earlier post of just yarn.  I have cast on the main section, found a couple of errors in the pattern (detailed in the Rav link) and I am now working my way up and over the shoulder from the V-neck base marker.  These photos are earlier than that, but they give an alright impression of how the fabric of the knit is coming together.

Early progress of the "wrong" side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Early progress of the “wrong” side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

I am actually on about the 4th ball of the main color (out of 13) and so knitting along there are 3 balls attached to the project (Each edge in the contrast and the main color) to which I am thinking someone needs to invent some stackable snap-together yarn bowls.  Think on that just a bit… you get to where you need to twist you just snap them apart, twine them the right way and re-snap them together.

Progress Updates, Future Yarn projects and a little bit more

Firstly let me start out by saying… I have been knitting things since March… just they have been very little things… or not done yet things.

Little things like this cute doily out of crochet thread on needles I never remember the size of because my needle gauge tool only goes to the first 0.  (You’d think a single 0 would be enough, but apparently the world is not prepared for negative numbers in needle sizing.):

Pattern is called Auge

Pattern is called Auge

This is not your granny’s doily though…. This baby is not soon to be draped over an armchair or under the candy dish. This is your first cup of coffee or glass of water by your bed… because that’s just how big it is.

That's no doily! That's a coaster!

That’s no doily! That’s a coaster!

I have also been working on my double knit scarf and I’m a bit further along than these photos as I am now nearly done with flake number six.

Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

Side A: Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

IMAG1061

Side B: Powerful Green flakes on a snowy white background

So I think with my current progress I am at least past the hump of the middle of a scarf project.

Now I must confess I have still not gotten any further on my bird needlework project and every time I’m up in the library room with my sewing I remind myself I really ought to finish it up.

But in the mean time…. I did say I was going to make two sweaters this year, one for Ben and one for myself.  And I’m only half done with that project… so I took the next step and… couldn’t narrow it down past two designs I really liked.  One is called Spoke, and the other is called Luscious.  Well I figured the easiest method since they took two different kind of yarns was to browse through my various yarn options and see if I couldn’t have the yarn decide.  (Each take a different yarn weight)

Well the yarn decided alright…. it decided I was making two sweaters!

A Future Spoke Sweater!  (and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

A Future Spoke Sweater!
(and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

Future Luscious.  The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

Future Luscious. The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

As if that wasn’t enough yarn… I got a nice reminder that I had Jimmy Beans Bucks from some yarn I bought when working on Debora.   So I did what any good knitter would and bought a beautiful skein of lace weight yarn.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

And that brings us to the end of the updates and progress… and you are wondering what exactly I meant by a little bit more.  Well…. I was contacted recently by someone that is getting ready to cast on a Debora blanket!  And to me… well that’s pretty awesome!   If you’ve ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle, then you will know what I mean when I say that’s the “I like your spark!” compliment.

Quilt 4: Endless Stairs Fiery Companion

A while back you may remember I bought a bunch of orange fabric and made some friends a Cracker Quilt.

Cracker Blocks arranged in a 4 color woven pattern.

The Cracker Quilt

Well because I am kind of new to the whole thing and worried about things like running out of fabric or butchering my fabric in some fit of miscutting… I overplan in the fabric department.  So for my fourth quilt I didn’t actually have to buy any new fabric at all!  I wanted something that would look like a companion piece to the cracker quilt… so I settled on a pattern called Endless Stairs.

And in the tradition of not spoiling the surprise I bring you… the Endless Fiery Stairs Quilt:

Front... with all the stairs!

Front… with all the stairs!

For the Back… I wanted to do something a bit different.  I have been admiring some of the newer quilt designs where the quilter pulls in the design elements or embellishes the backside in a complementary way.  I went with a framed chevron pattern.

Echoing the front but done with angles instead of rectangles

Echoing the front but done with angles instead of rectangles

I am a believer in trying new things.  They won’t always be a success… but not every failing is a failure.  For the back piece… I pieced my orange and blue middle stripe first and then realized I hadn’t sewn in the blue triangles between the points.   WHOOPS!  I did actually manage to pull off piecing those triangles in there.. but it was a lesson in not getting too focused in and to take your time making sure you’ve seen the whole bigger picture.

Here's an extra detail shot, especially since Ben got the new cards for the nice camera!

Here’s an extra detail shot, especially since Ben got the new cards for the nice camera!

And btw… I still have quite a bit of orange left!

The dark orange is actually a combination of 3 different fabrics.

The dark orange is actually a combination of 3 different fabrics.

Quilt Three: A Fiery Cracker

So awhile back my local quilt shop closed, and it was such a sad day for me.  The owner, Mary, was one of those generous and kind founts of knowledge who seemed to be excited about your project and offered truly helpful tips and ideas to complete it.   So I went to visit her during her closing sale and lament her loss and wish her well.  And while I was there I did purchase a couple things, including a fine selection of orange fabrics, because I have a friend and I just knew she liked Orange.  That was July 16th.

Selected fabrics. The blue was bought separately. And my favorite out of them all was the orange with gold swirls… that’s the one I picked out first.

Now I did ask her what her husband’s favorite color was, and was told that it was blue, so that would work out well for me.. a nice complimentary color even if I didn’t go the same shade as his absolute favorite.  And so a few days later, while we were out seeing The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX on the week it opened (July 21st to be exact) the conversation came up again… and she says to us “Orange isn’t really my favorite color”  O.O!!!

But since she has misled me all this time and she does actually like orange and somewhat collect things with orange, and because I’d already bought the fabric… she’s getting an orange quilt!  And just to give her a bit of a giggle…. I immortalized that very quote on her quilt tag!

So I finally finished that quilt yesterday.  And by finished that means I don’t actually have a 100% done photo, because as I was heading upstairs to get the quilt tag after stitching down the binding while watching X-Files… Ben announced to me that he had invited us and our friends to go out to dinner.  So here’s the closest to done I have from that morning with the binding all pinned down and ready for sewn down:

Cracker Blocks arranged in a 4 color woven pattern.

The design is called a cracker quilt.  I found several people that think that this is the eating cracker related, but from what I’ve read and the design elements I believe its more a Gift Cracker related.  Where the cracker design you see is a combination of the two long colored bars capped by their matching triangles in the first square and continues into the same colored triangles of the next square forming the gift cracker shape.

For my quilting, I did stitch in the ditch outlining the diamond shape of each orange square, and the inner blue rectangles, and then I did a couple variations of echo quilting on my blue squares:

A bit of a detail photo

I learned many new things while making this one… things like when you are making points, you should stitch your seam just behind the prior stitches and not through those stitches to get the best results.  And my two dark oranges… don’t photo and look so disparate as I thought they would.    For those of you that like such things… here’s a link to the gallery of in progress photos.

Let it Snow!

Quilt Two is now completed!  This one I made for my grandmother, and was inspired in part by Hawaiian Quilts.  Final size is approximately 50×50 inches, which is not really a standard size for anything, but just what I thought looked good and would work as a smaller lap quilt.   I did a much better job of the binding this time around, in fact there were corners I felt looked downright professional!

“Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow, For which, through naked trees, the winds A-mourning go?” ― John Banister Tabb

I am going to mail this out just as soon as I figure out my letter I want to write with it.  I’m sure that societal conventions would say this is a Christmas Gift type of quilt, but I’m too impatient to tell her I love her and think about her all the time.  So conventions be damned!

There is a whole gallery about this quilt you can check out with pictures of flakes I didn’t use, close ups of materials and in progress work available here.  I plan to send some of those photos with the quilt.

While putting this together I found some pretty cool stuff… like there was a fine Gentleman by the name of Wilson A Bentley that took the first photo of an individual snowflake all the way back in 1885!  And he was so fascinated by snow, he went on to take 4999 more!  You can read a bit more about him over at snowflakebentley.com.  Also… there are scientists at Caltech creating snowflakes in their lab to study how they are formed, and you can watch video clips of some of the snowflakes being formed on their site SnowCrystals.com.

Shawl we get this over with? – And some philosophy

So you know that shawl I posted from my stash just the other day… well yesterday and this  morning… I finished it!

Fanned out and on display

This shawl has been in my stash for a very long time… it had two of the half fans that form the top border on stitch holders and just hanging out because I ran out of yarn.  It was the first modular design piece I decided to try.  Since it was a learn to do it project… I used stash yarn that I picked up… likely from the clearance section of the yarn shop, and didn’t have enough as it turns out.  So I ended up finishing it with a later not-quite match.

Here you can see where the new color row fits in with the old color

Now…. the philosophy ramble…. (skip to the end if you want the pattern link).

I don’t tend to worry about gauges when I’m testing out something to see if I can do it.  I don’t plan nearly as much as I probably should… but since I am in more of the beginner stage of knitting, I don’t think that is a bad thing.  I could see where this would be an issue later on when I want to make a sweater, or to get the right fit on socks and gloves, but for learning the principals of stitches and patterns on scarves and blankets  it really doesn’t matter.  If what I want to know is… can I figure out how to SSK/cable/double-knit something… it does not bother me in the slightest if its 30 inches instead of 36, or vise-versa.  No one else but me has any idea how its supposed to turn out anyway.

Sure, I could follow the recommended yarn brand, which would have cost me about $60, and it would probably be worth it… but the whole time I’d have started the project I’d be fretting about cutting up that beautiful and expensive yarn.  Or I can test out a pattern and not worry about the yarn for about $10 on the same project.

If you are learning and you see a pattern you like and want to try, don’t fret over having “Super-silk-cashmere-yarn-of-Amazeballs™” just bust open your yarn stash and get to work with what you have!  Learn something new… and find what you love.

And with that… here’s the pattern.

Baby Afghans, take 3 for August

So, a while back, I obtained some yarn from another knitters stash… and I am a fan of trying new stitches and finding ways to use up the yarn stash… so this one, the solid blue and the yellow are yarn that’s probably as old as I am (based on the yellow skein’s wrapper) so its well past time it got a new life.

This pattern makes a nice dimensional stitch.

I knitted it up until I nearly ran out of the dark blue… and I still have some light blue and yellow to play with!  But its at least baby afghan size, so there is that.

After some blocking, laid out on my library/sewing table

 

Perhaps I shall have to make up some hats or booties or something…. As a bonus, this pattern made a fun picture to use as my cell phone wallpaper.

Rows almost look like diamonds

The colors remind me of a dress I used to own, with a denim bodice and a yellow floral long skirt… I loved that dress.

Pattern available on Ravelry.