Monday, October 28, 2013

Design Wall

This week on the Design Wall, I'm playing with Sara Jane's Out to Sea line for Michael Miller Fabrics:

I know I'm relatively slow hoping on this bandwagon - I think the line released early last spring - but I cannot get over how adorable it is.  I mean, little pink narwhals ... come on!!!

I can't share too much of the quilt top, as it destined for a very special mama next month and I don't want to give too much away ... but look for more pictures the first week in December.

In the meantime, head on over to these fantastic sites for more great WIPs:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adventures in Knitting - NYCardigan v.1.1

Both of my boys had a small stomach bug last week, so I finished no sewing, whatsoever.  Since I did spend a great amount of time cuddling on the couch, I was able to make some progress on my New York Cardigan!

After knitting far enough on my sweater collar to pick up the stitches for the body  and finishing a couple of body rows ... I decided that it was time to evaluate how my pattern modifications were shaping up.

I decided that a few changes needed to be made.  Luckily, I had left in my waste yarn to mark where I started picking up stitches for the body, and had a really easy time frogging back and not dropping any stitches.

First change: along both edges of the lace panel, there was a K5 portion.  When the collar was joined to the sweater body, however, the K5 portion looked out of place amongst the lace stitches, and so I eliminated it.  I experimented a bit with trying to replace the panel with a raised K vine stitch, but all my methods of adding enough extra stitches for the raised vine look even more out of place than the K4 border.  I've just eliminated it altogether.

Second change: starting the each row along the collar edge with a SS instead of K.  The collar was starting to roll in too much without it.  It's still rolling in slight now, but I'm hoping that a little steam or slight blocking when I'm finished will fix the problem.

Third change - or rather a note for my next sweater using this pattern.  I replaced the YO K YO stitches at the raglan shaping along the shoulders with a KFB K KFB.    I should have replaced it with a KFB KFB to avoid the double stitch along the shaping that the extra K creates.  I don't *think* its going to be a problem with this sweater - it doesn't bother me enough to frog back all my progress - but we'll see how the finished project turns out.

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So here's v.1.1.  I'm hoping to get far enough along the collar this week to get my sleeves on waste yarn and actually try the thing on for size.  

Based on the given measurements, I was somewhere between a M/L, but am following the M instructions, as my lace stitches are slightly larger than gauge, and I'm knitting the whole piece with size 8's, instead of switching to a smaller size for the bottom lace panels only.  If it's ridiculously too small, then my blue waste yarn "life-lines" are still in place and I can frog all the way back to make the shoulders bigger.  Fingers crossed that that's not actually the case!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

This Week's WIP

I've finally managed to complete half of my Flurry blocks, in spite of some gorgeous fall weather and the call of the outdoors ... which is why this picture was taken on my patio table and not on my design wall. :)

Pattern: Flurry ... Fabric: Patchwork Indigo
I have 13 blocks finished, and another 12 to go in second color-way.  The blocks will be joined by a pieced border, but I'm hoping that it won't take tooo long to finish.  I'm eager to add this one to the finished list and send it off to be quilted.

I've decided that this will be the first quilt I'm sending off to a Long Arm quilter.  As quilting the top is really my least favorite part of the whole process.  I hardly have any sewing time as it is, and my little, tiny machine is just not equipped to handle anything larger than a baby quilt.

I'm hoping to find a local Long Arm quilter {Sacramento and surrounding areas}, not only to save on shipping costs, but to support local artists.  If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment or send me an email: CorasQuilts{at}gmail{dot}com.

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On a fun note, I brought my camera to the park this morning to try and capture some better pictures of my fall quilts.  I'm getting a little tired of shooting against the same old fence panel in my back yard.  Happily, Littlest Monkey managed a quick nap in the stroller while Daddy and the almost-two-years-old-not-so-little Monkey had fun on the slides

This is Stroll!

She was officially introduced a few weeks ago, but I'm happy to share her again with some better pictures.

She's a quick little fall project that can with just a single Charm pack and a little bit of yardage.

Love those gorgeous Fig Tree fall colors!!

I was inspired by Anita over at the Connecting Threads blog to branch out from my typical straight line quilting, and experiment with a little free motion stippling.  I have to say, it went much ore smoothly than expected and I'm please with the overall effect.

Here are the quilt stats:
Pattern: Stroll by Cora's Quilts
Fabric: Honeysweet by Fig Tree & Co.
Finished Size: 30" x 30"

The pattern is currently available in our Etsy and Craftsy shops.  It includes instructions for making both the 30" Charm Square table-topper quilt, and a 73" Layer Cake lap quilt.

We currently also have a small number of quilt kits featuring the fabric used in our sample available as well.

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Linking up with these sites this week - be sure to stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Adventures in Knitting: New York Cardigan, v1.0

I'm officially starting my very first knitted sweater.

The Pattern:

After spending about two weeks pouring over the thousands of cardigan patterns on Ravelry, I finally selected the New York Cardigan by Erin Harper.

© Erin Harper

The pattern is very well-written and easy to understand, even for a newbie like me!  The only bit that bothered me was that the front piece that formed the collar was made from two separate pieces that were then sewn to the sweater body.  After a couple of laughable attempts at making stocking ornaments last year, I know that seaming on knitting is a skill that still eludes me ... and this sweater is not the place to practice!

The only criticism of the pattern I've read is that it doesn't include a chart for the lace panels.  This isn't an issue for me, though, because I'm still a newbie and I'd much more comfortable at this point with reading step by step directions, rather than following a chart.

The Modifications:

After pouring over all the discussion boards and finished project posts, I came across this gorgeous version by shadystroll ...

© shadystroll
... and she included in her project notes some detailed instructions for knitting the sweater and collar in one piece!

So, as of the start of my project, here are my planned modifications to the pattern:
  • Knitting both halves of the collar and the sweater body in one piece
  • Replacing the YO K YO along raglan shaping at the shoulders with KFB K KFB, to eliminate the holes - Note: for sweater #2, change to KFB KFB to avoid double knit stitch along raglan shaping portion.
  • Starting the lace panels on the body of the sweater under the bust
  • Knitting the sleeves (probably 3/4 or full length) in the round, because I hate seaming.
  • Starting each row along the edge of the collar with a SS instead of a K, so that the collar will lay flat, rather than having a slight curl
  • Replacing the 5K stitch panel where the collar is joined with the body with a S2st K PSSO {plus possibly an extra K for picking up the stitches on the collar}for a more seamless look on the body  Strike that. Just eliminating the 5K stitch panel between the collar and the body.
{modifications in red were added after my "first round of testing":)}

The Yarn

I have visions of knitting my sweater out of a beautiful red/black yarn and being able to wear it for Christmas {possibly in 2014}, but for now, I chose to make a practice version with some cheaper yarn ... just in the final project doesn't quite work out.

I chose Lion Brand Heartland yarn, in the Grand Canyon colorway:
Even though this yarn is 100% acrylic, it's beautifully soft and is knitting up well on size 8 needles

And We're Off!

We spent a ton of time outdoors with Aiden over the weekend, so I was able to get a great jump start on my project.  I did my test swatch and it came out perfectly to gauge!

It took me a couple of tries to get the provisional cast-on {turquoise yarn} tension correct ...

... but once I finally got going, the rows started shaping up really quickly!

As of Monday morning, I had finished two whole lace repeats and was really happy with my work. Good little nappers permitting, I'm hoping to have another status update to share later this week!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Design Wall Monday

We had an incredibly busy week last week which means that I have next to nothing to share on the quilting front.  The California Capitol Airshow was in town over the weekend,  and as we live just a few miles from the airfield, we had a great (albeit loud) show, right in our backyard!  Between the 10+ acts practicing during the week and the two-day weekend show, we've practically been living outdoors for a week!  At least I've been able to squeeze in a little knitting ...

This years headliners were the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds.  It was pretty amazing to watch all nine of them go through their paces.

As an added treat for the weekend, hubby and I were lucky enough to sneak away from the boys on Saturday night for a grown-up dinner at Lucca and a performance of Pride and Prejudice by the Sacramento Theater Company.  Hubby, not being an avid Jane Austen {and huge Mr. Darcy} fan like I am, cruelly pointed out in the first few moments how greatly the actor playing Mr. Darcy looked like Dexter, the serial killer ... and then proceeded to wonder if the play was going to end in a plastic-draped kill room with seven bodies lying on the floor ... I can only assume he was hoping the Bennet family were the victims ...

Photo by Kelly Christoffersen, Sacramento Bee
Despite the comments from the peanut gallery, the actors - especially those playing Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins - did a fantastic job ... and Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

On the sewing front, I just managed to sneak in a few minutes to start playing with ...

I'm working on a new quilt design for a very special little lady that will be joining the family in January. 

I'm playing around with a few, simply-pieced blocks and some charm squares ... and my desire for scrappiness is at war with my ingrained preference for symmetry.  We'll see which will win out in the end.

I'm linking my meager progress up with these sites this week.  Thanks for stopping by!

There's a reason why "KNIT" is a four letter word.

The first craft I fell in love with was crocheting.  My granny taught me when I was probably 8 or 9.  I would spend a couple of weeks at her house every summer and she would let me loose in her yarn closet.  Over the years, I went from wonky little trapezoids (I usually forgot the extra chain stitch at the end of each row) to squares, and then finally made it to afghans, doilies, and even snowflakes and granny squares.

By the time I hit my twenties, I could crochet in my sleep and was in search of something a little more challenging.  After watching a coworker spend endless hours knitting these beautiful shawls and socks during our slow days, I asked my mom to teach me to knit too.

Let's just suffice to say that the lesson was a disaster!  Not on my mom's part, as she's a great teacher ... and not even on the part of my little brother, who at the age of 20 and the epitome of cool, could not believe that I just couldn't get the hang of casting on - "For God's sake, Shelley - even I learned in my 3rd grade class.  It's not that hard!"  And yes, the little twerp proceeded to demonstrate his skills.  Jerk.

Fast forward a few more years, and hours of watching YouTube videos, plus more help from my mom and my Auntie, I finally managed to master the trick of casting on and made some feeble attempts at a scarf ... usually accompanied by quite a bit of profanity.  Knitting made me super tense ... which made my stitches super tight ... which usually resulted in me dropping stitches and having to frog the whole $%#& project.

And the whole bit about having to turn the project around, and a right and wrong sides of a project {even though this is NO different than crochet} irritated to me to no end, so I switch to knitting socks in the round on Double Pointed Needles (DPNs).

Socks fed the occasional urge to knit, although with my crafting ADD, I usually only managed to finish one sock before getting bored with the pattern and moving on to something else. I think I've managed to finish a single pair.

The knitting bug has bitten me again, though, and I finally feel like I've practiced enough to start some "real" projects: this gorgeous Haruni shawl and this fabulous New York Cardigan.  My plan is to share the occasional update here on my blog, but you can also follow me on Ravelry and Instagram @CorasQuilts too!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Patchwork Indigo Mis-en-Place

 I actually received my much anticipated fabric delivery last week, but with some out-of-towners here to visit and a crazy, busy weekend, I didn't get to dip into it until yesterday.

It's hard to tell from my photo {thanks to an overcast morning here} but the fabric is a really rich indigo blue, while the whites are crisp and beautiful.  The fabric is from a brand new Connecting Threads line called, "Indigo Patchwork."

I'm so excited to start sewing on a new project!  I think that one of my favorite moments in making a quilt is seeing all the building blocks in front of me like this and being able to see in my head the potential of the quilt they'll become.

Since I've been doing the majority of my sewing lately from my kitchen table, I've found that the best system for me is to do my mis-en-place in my sewing room, and then fill up a little tray with all the bits I need for my current blocks to take out into the kitchen.  When I'm done with those blocks, I can take them back to my sewing room to place on the design wall, and fill up my little "shopping basket" with the bits for the next set of blocks.  I find that things stay much more organized this way, and I'm not constantly at war with having to clear the kitchen table of all these loose little squares between sewing sessions.

I'm off to sew during a rare few moments when both my boys are sleeping!  Check out Freshly Pieced today for some other great WIPs!