And to top it off…

Its not even the official middle of January and I’ve already got my first top together!  Believe it or not, the majority of the fabric was purchased back in June of 2015 specifically for this quilt idea and then it only took about a week to actually assemble.

Guest Quilt Top

The idea was hatched from a quilt someone posted from I believe Quiltcon 2014, but the bookmarked link I had is now defunct and I can’t seem to find it again.   So if you think it was you and would like the credit you deserve (or just to tell me how unoriginal I am) then drop me a line!

On the knitting front I’ve put together a couple new variations on my market bags, one with a seamless handle design and one a mosaic style to use up some partial cotton balls from the stash.

And then I frogged and restarted a new lace shawl based on the Weirwood Tree pattern. I first started this on the holiday road trip but its a less simplistic lace design which needs a bit more attention.  After getting home with a proper knit companion, its been progressing along. I’m throwing in a few photos I took from the trip (I wasn’t driving at the time) too.

Hope your new year is also producing some good progress too!

Christmas Kitchen Gifts to Give

Giving homemade gifts is one of those things that you either pull off with amazing confidence or immense trepidation.  For me its usually trepidation.  I’m very aware of the gold macaroni effect that some homemade gifts carry with them.  So braving all that and casting into the ether of “well if they don’t like it they can use it as oil rags!” I present some Christmasy Kitchen gifts  (I’ve already gifted these, so its safe to share!):

One set was 2 quilted Hot Pads, A knit dishtowel, dishcloth and scrubby

One set consisted of  2 quilted Hot Pads, A knit dishtowel, dishcloth and scrubby

Every item was different, and the knit items are simple knits done in Christmas colored cotton yarn.  I used King Charles Brocade , Double Seed StitchBasketweave Stitch, Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth, and just a pure garter stitch for patterns.   To make the scrubbies, cut a roughly 1 inch strip of tulle (and just eyeball it…. you won’t notice any imperfections.  My strips always turn out looking like they were cut by a 5 year old hopped up on espresso.) and knit as a second strand with your regular knit pattern.

My hot pads were all test quilt blocks, a 6 inch block and an 8 inch block.  In the photo above the smaller is a traditional 9 patch and a disappearing 4 patch block, both of these I just used stitch in the ditch method.

An Old Maids Rambler and a more traditional Four Patch Set

An Old Maids Rambler and a more traditional Four Patch Set.  The Rambler is just stitch in the ditch, the Four Patch has echo quilting on the larger bird solids, and diagonal on the smaller four patches.

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A9 patch with just 2 fabric colors, and a Variable Star.  I used echo quilting on the interior of the star, and quilted through the diagonals of the lighter fabric on the smaller square.

Each of my sets were joined by identical fabric choices for the backs.  I used two layers of batting and bound them by folding the larger backing material twice over to the front.  To get the mitered style corners, fold the corner in at a 90 degree angle before you fold in the sides.

Now I also included several batches of cookies, and tied my gift bags with some ornament seed cakes.  I got the seedcake recipe from this instructable that was designed for making a seed wreath.

My seed cake ornaments with their hanging loops.

My seed cake ornaments with their hanging loops.

What I did differently is that I used my cookie cutters, covered on one end with tinfoil as my molds.  I actually had a few more than these, specifically some snowflakes, but they were a bit fragile and didn’t make it, either from the removal from the cutters or from my attempts to add hanging holes.  So I’d suggest either pre-stringing your cakes, OR use a heavy nail as a hole making form within your seedcakes when you are forming them.   They are safe for feeding the birds, or you can use them on your tree!

Green Grocer

I make my own knit grocery bags.  There… I said it.  It was the first type of bag I tackled after making scarves and hats, when I decided I should attempt to make something rather practical and useful.  Sadly my photos for this post are not the best, but I thought you’d see enough to get the gist of my environmentally conscience thumb.

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Newly Knit, Hot off the needles

My first bag, I followed this pattern from knitty.com.  I actually made larger i-cord handles for mine, but to me the bag felt just a bit too shapeless when I finished constructing it out of my cotton yarn.

So I decided the only solution was to use what I’d learned to build my own bag.  I followed the same directions for the base, but when I got to the sides, I decided the solution was to use the YO/drop pattern I learned way back in the very early days of making scarves.  To further enhance the effect I swapped from my smaller needles to a larger size for the yarn over row and then back to the smaller needles as I dropped the yarn overs off for the next row.  This resulted in a neat striped solid/net look.

Secondly, my experience with the i-cord handles on my first grocery sack led me to consider that perhaps just a simple knit every row handle would suit this style better, giving it more area to grip at the top of the bag.  I then crocheted the handles through the rows onto my bag in the hopes of it turning out capable of bearing a load born of the bag clerk learning that knit stretches and then deciding to bag on the principal of discovering just how much the bag will hold.

Strength testing, with about 20+ books in the bag.

I really enjoyed how the pattern came out, learned that shorter handles at first do stretch out over time, and had nothing left to do but give the bag(s) a trial run.  But what of the truly heavy items…. would my bags stack up?  I’m happy to say that repeated testing is showing that indeed they do stand up… incredibly well.   In fact, I strength tested this green one by loading it up with as many books as I could fit into it… which was someplace in the 25 paperbacks region.  I was at a point where I was more worried for the nails holding my  peg rack.

The bag pictured in this post went on to carry about a bushel of fresh picked peaches over last summer.

I’ve made this pattern in a multitude of sizes from Costco-mega-size to the personal half a bag size.  Unless they need it sooner, I toss them in the wash about once a month to keep them clean.