Redecorating

Some back story:

We moved into this house in July. It was built in the 1970s, so it was a little tired. We knew we were going to have to do some updating.  One of the least pleasant parts was the carpet – an already stained off white that my sons fairly quickly turned rather gray.  It had to go, especially in the living and family rooms.

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Six months later, all new windows, gas fireplace inserts, solatubes, new bamboo flooring, and a whole lot of new living room furniture, and we finally have a useable, attractive front room.

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All this furniture was new, stored in the garage until the new flooring came.  We unpacked and assembled and set it in place 5 minutes after the workers left.  We’d waited months and couldn’t wait a minute more.

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But no new room can be complete without a quilt! (Pictures, paint, and a rug would also help.)

After an unplanned shopping spree at the fabric store, I combined a lot of warm and cool toned grays and browns, added in golds, and mixed half square triangles, four-patches, and solid squares.

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I got a lot of use out of my triangle square up ruler.  My half square triangles are never perfectly sewn, so I cut the squares at 10” to get a slightly bigger than desired square and then trimmed the slight extra edges to 9 1/2” after the blocks were pressed open.

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The finished quilt top is 7 x 9 blocks, 63” x 81”.  The colors will really pull the room together once it is quilted.  Perfect for naps on the new couch.

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Kiki Mariko

Time to get another TV knitting project going.  I couldn’t see starting another cowl after finishing three in a row, but I wasn’t yet done with circular needles, so I turned to one of my Mason-Dixon knitting books and cast on a Kiki Mariko rug.

So many good things will be accomplished with this project:

I’ll have a rug to replace the old towel currently protecting the carpet in front of our sliding glass door.

I will get rid of at least half of a very large bag of Lamb’s Pride bulky yarn that I’ve been collecting when it went on sale.  So much space will be created in the yarn storage!

I will not have more cowls right away.  There is no need for more cowls.

I will get to knit with size 15 needles, which amuse me with every stitch – so big! So shiny! Musical metallic tings with every stitch.

I will get a rug to replace the Kiki Mariko that I knit some years ago and lost during a move.

(My kids loved that project.  I can’t believe how small they were then!)

This rug is knit as a huge, loose tube with a steek.  After felting, the steek is cut and a flat, dense, tough rug is the result.  You can see how much it shrinks in the before and after photos above.  In official measurements, it went from one full kid to 3/4s of a kid.

It is a very quick knit.  Each row adds about 3/4s of an inch in length.  Other than wrestling the stitches around the thick tube of the circular needle, it is about as easy a stranded patterns as it is possible to make.

Let the vacation knitting begin!  (I am officially on Winter Break in 4 minutes.  Go, clock, go!)

 

Yak and silk and potatoes

Before I start on the fiber talk, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it!  Bring on the latkes!

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Our dog Theo turned out to be a big fan of both latkes and suvganiyot (jelly filled donuts).  This is his first Hanukkah.

My finish this week was my Eureka cowl, made from aran weight handspun yarn.

The gray single is a 60/20/20 merino/yak/silk, and the cream is an ultra soft 50/50 yak/silk.  It was such a joy to spin!

The cowl has a unusual shape, more of a bandana than a cylinder, narrow in the back and triangular in the front.  The triangle dipping down means it will block more drafts when worn with a v-neck or a slightly unzipped coat.

I modified the pattern’s ridge rows somewhat, but the shape is just as the pattern dictated.  It still needs blocking, but I’ve tried it out and it is warm and soft.

Oops

I swear, I only went to the fabric store for a quick look, because the 40% off fabric sale was too good to skip completely.  I was just going to get a yard or two of some low volume fabric to add to the stash.

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Oops.

All but two of those are new additions.  It is going to be a new quilt for the newly renovated and furnished living room.

And despite how many quilts I have partially finished, I started in on this one right away.

It is going to be a combination of 9” half square triangle blocks and 4-patch blocks.  Grays, browns, and creams with golds to add some brightness.  Finally sewing again!

Two finishes and a fail

Despite all the remodeling construction and Thanksgiving, I did manage to finish a couple of projects recently.

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The first is a cowl I made from a yarn kit ordered from Craftsy, using the Toolbox Cowl pattern.   The yarn kit came with five colors, so I added a few extra rows to make each stripe wider, as the original pattern called for six colors. However, I didn’t calculate that extra rows in the garter/slip stitch section wasn’t going to really add much height.  So before I got to the mustard yellow, I dug out some cream yarn and added that in as well. I’m really pleased with the way it ended up. It’s a very comfortable, soft cowl.  And there should be enough yarn left to make the matching hat!

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The next finish was my Noro scarf-turned-cowl.  This is the one that I ripped back four or five times and changed my mind repeatedly about how to knit it.  Then I had to graft together ribbing, which isn’t a smooth process when you are connecting top to bottom.  The stitches end up off by a half stitch which really complicates grafting even without adding in knits and purls.  There was more ripping out, and I learned not to graft on a light color row as every wonky bit shows more, but it is a circle now, and when it is doubled up around a neck the grafting isn’t going to show unless someone really looks for it.

If I’d had the yarn I would have immediately started another one, I was so happy with the results after all that ripping and indecision.  I think it would have been too short as a scarf, but it is perfect as a double wrapped cowl.

After that came a really quick fun knit that I can’t show yet as it is a Christmas present.  My mom sometimes reads this blog. . .

Then the fail.  More of a mechanical problem than anything I did, but it still meant I didn’t get the finish I was hoping for.  Sewing has really been on the back burner as we worked on the house, so I was really excited to start working on a quilt again.  And it is a simple brick pattern, already pinned in a sandwich, so I thought I could get it fully quilted and maybe even bound in one day.

I should have known it wasn’t going to go smoothly when it took 40 minutes of intense searching to find my walking foot in the one craft related box that somehow didn’t get unpacked and was hidden away in the rec room closet.

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And then my sewing machine came apart!  I had stopped in mid-line to change a bobbin, and it wouldn’t start back up.  When I checked, the power cord had fallen out of the machine.  When I put it back in, it just fell right back out.  Further investigation showed that there was nothing to plug into – the internal prongs were gone.

I unscrewed the panel and found that the plastic housing for the plug had broken in two, dropping the prongs into the casing.

I probably should have stopped working and taken it in for repair, but I didn’t want to give up, so I grabbed the gorilla glue and some pins to poke things with and dropped glue in to put the pieces back together.  After it dried overnight, it seems to be holding, so I will use it very carefully until I can find a period of time where I am willing to live without it and take it in to have the part repaired.

But the quilt didn’t get finished as the next day I had to clear out the dining room because we were having company.  Sigh.  It has been a long time since I finished a quilt and I really thought it was going to happen this time.  The list of sewing WIPs is not getting any shorter.

At least I’m having more success with the knitting.  A new start with some handspun is coming along really quickly.

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Yak and silk – yum!

 

 

 

Patchwork foot stool

I finished knitting the Thanksgiving scarf, and while I ponder the terrors of trying to graft 1×1 ribbing to turn it into a cowl, I moved on to a small sewing project that was less intimidating.

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I recently bought a small square foot stool to go with my new bedroom chair.  It didn’t match, but it was inexpensive, which was my main criteria.  I need to be able to put my feet up as I sit reading and knitting.

I rummaged through the box of upholstery scraps I used to make the family room pouf and made a simple patchwork slipcover.

I then ransacked the garage in a futile search for my staple gun before giving up and buying a new one.  Maybe it was left behind in the move?  Did I lend it to my sister?

My corner folding and stapling could use some work, but overall it was a success.  I just need to get some dark brown spray paint for the legs.

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It is kid and dog approved anyway.

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Thanksgiving knitting

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While making the Thanksgiving meal and enjoying visiting relatives, I tried to sneak in some simple knitting.  It did not go well.

I had two colors of Noro silk garden yarn and planned to make a simple striped scarf.

Step 1 – Cast on 45 stitches.  In between stuffing a turkey and ricing potatoes for lefse, knit about six inches of the two row stripe pattern.

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Step 2 – Decide the edges are too ragged.  Rip it all out and start over, slipping the edge stitches at the start of each row.

Step 3 – Start worrying that the yarn is a little rough.  Will it be too inchy?  And since I added some stitches to the cast on, will I run out of yarn?

Step 4 – Rip back half the rows, then have second thoughts and decide that it will soften over time as other Noro projects have, and that I can always order more yarn if it is too short.  Pick up the stitches and start reknitting the rows I just ripped back.

Step 5 – During a board game of Would You Rather with the extended family, ask self if I would rather have a cowl.  Decide yes and rip all rows back to zero.

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Step 6 – Eat way too much really good food.  Wash way too many dishes.  Tear apart the craft closet looking for another size 7 needle so I can cast on a spiral knit cowl.

Step 7 – Knit seven or eight rows of a long cowl, but dislike the single row look. Rip it all out.

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Step 8 – Look up directions for jogless two row stripes and start again, on one needle.  Decide that I won’t like the thin strips in a multi-wrapped cowl.  Rip it all out.

Step 9 – Cast on 45 Stitches and restart the simple two row scarf.

Step 10 – Eat pie to forget.