Sunday, 4 October 2015

FAL Finish: Sakura Shawl

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

The only other thing I've finished from this quarter's FAL list is the Sakura shawl that Lynz and I did as a (very informal) KAL.  I've got to say that it was a lot of fun knitting alongside someone else (albeit via email!) and I hope we do it again soon!  (You can see her gorgeous green shawl here.)

This is how the shawl looked at the start of the quarter:

Sakura shawl

And this is how it looked straight off the needles:

Off the needles!

You can't really see the lace pattern and, to be honest, it looks a bit like a heap of knitting at this stage!

Before blocking

I put off blocking it for a while (I always do as I always overestimate how hard it's going to be and how long it's going to take!) but finally got it done last week.  First I pinned it to the carpet, using lots of pins!  It's the first shawl I've blocked which has made me think that it would be easier with blocking wires.  I can't see me buying any, though, as I'm managing with pins even if it does take a little longer.


I put a damp (fresh from a rinse and spin in the washer rather than dunked in a sink) sheet over it and left it until the sheet was dry, which took about 18 hours.

This is how it looked when it was unpinned (and I'd sewn in the ends):

Sakura shawl
Struggling to get it all in the photo!

And here's a much better photo of the lace pattern:

I couldn't possibly comment on the rumour that I taped the shawl to the window to get this photo.

I'm really pleased with this shawl and hope the intended recipient likes it, when she eventually receive it!  (It doesn't need to be sent for a few months yet!)

Shawl details:

Pattern: Sakura by Leila Raabe
Yarn: Artesano alpaca silk 4-ply in 'drake'; four 50g/200m skeins - I used 154g which works out at about 616m.
Size: approx. 66" (across top edge) x 29" (from top edge to point)
Things learnt: SSP decrease; SSP cast off (took nigh on an hour!); 3 from 1 stitch; M1R and when to use it rather than M1L (at least, I think I know when to use it!); Russian join; how much fun a (relaxed) KAL can be; that indie knitting designers are really helpful and friendly when you email them for help and disclose your knitting numptiness - thanks, Leila!  I've just made the mistake of looking at this link and have spotted many things I want to knit!!

Thank you, Lynz, for keeping me company on this knit, I really enjoyed it and it wouldn't have been half as much fun without you!

I'm linking up to Adrianne for the finishing party, I just wish I had more finishes to link up!

Archie has had a finish of his own - he ate the last home baked biscuit which Susan and the girls bought him from Tynemouth market:
My last home baked cheesy biscuit...
Oh biscuit, how I love you.  You're my last (cheesy) biscuit and I'm going to enjoy you!

And the crumbs were nice, too!
The crumbs were nice, too!

Just checking in case I've missed any
I'll just check in case I've missed anything.

Are you sure there aren't more in the cupboard?
Are  you sure that was the last one?  Yes?  Well when's Susan coming back?  And can you make some of these in the meantime?

Thanks for popping in!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

FAL Finish: Tidy Trug

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

One of the (many) items on my Q3 FAL list was this tidy trug, which I started at a workshop in July of this year but was languishing on the 'it doesn't need much doing to it for it to be finished' pile in my sewing room.  Adding it to my FAL list was just the impetus I needed to get it finished, it's just a pity that I didn't manage to keep the impetus going and blog about it.  Or finish much else on the list...

This is how it looked at the start of the quarter:


I think the thing which slowed me down was, quite disgracefully, buying some fray check for the buttonholes on the handle!  The original pattern had an attached handle of quite a different (and stylish) shape but I decided that I wanted my handle to swivel down so that it would be easy to get things in and out of the trug.

After some stitching (closing the gap in the lining, top stitching round the trug and again in the ditch between the lining and the outer fabric), some fabric ripping (the buttonholes in the handle, not accidental ripping!) and some fray checking (smelly stuff!), it was finished by the end of July.

Here's how it looked then and more recently (after it had been out for the day to my friend's studio - I was layering and pinning a quilt and took this along to carry my supplies):





Those Ikea tubs are really handy for safety pins!
The pattern is by my very talented friend Beryl Frank of Knot (not available for purchase) and uses Decovil Light to provide structure.  I bought the outer fabric with my Scraptastic Tuesday voucher from Fat Quarter Shop; I bought another print to be the lining but decided that a solid would be better and found this leftover from a bag project.  (Well, I say 'leftover', but what I really mean is that I bought it to line a bag I was making for Mam and then we changed our mind about what to make so it went in my stash!)  The pink 'lace' trim was bought from a local haberdashers, as were the (glittery) buttons.  The trug also has bag feet on the base, you just can't see them in the photos!

Now I've finally blogged about my finish, I can link up with Adrianne and the Q3 finishes party!

Other than that, I've managed a bit of sewing (I'll tell you about that in another post), quite a lot of knitting (that'll also be another post as I just need to block it and I can call the Sakura shawl a finish) and, well, very little else!   I'm still waiting for the new raised bed to be built in my garden (any day now, I hope!) and I've been tending my 'to be planted' queue and wondering how many more times I'll have to water all those little pots (I do hope I'm down in single figures now!), so once that's built I'll have to race out and get planting before the soil cools down.

Archie has been seeking out the sun:

Taking sun wherever he can find it
I'll take a patch of sun wherever I can find it...

And Alfie has been to stay (only for the afternoon!):

On the front
Someone very close to me can't be trusted out on the front without being tethered to the house.  I'm naming no names...

And there was some gentle and dignified argy bargy over beds:

'I want to lay there...'

Look how unimpressed Archie is by the whole business...

Thanks for popping in!

Monday, 3 August 2015

(Slow) Progress

The top item on my new FAL list and the project to which I am dedicating all of my 'sewing machine' time (that's any time I'm awake and in the house on an afternoon) and a lot of my 'something to do while I watch telly in the evening' time (I pin blocks/rows while I'm watching telly and then sew when I'm next able to use my sewing machine) is the blue and white nine patch/snowball quilt, started (oh, the shame) in February 2012.  Mam and I hatched the plan (the quilt is for her spare bed) over one of our 'I need a sit down, a pot of tea and a scone' breaks during a visit to Harrogate Quilt Show in September 2011 and most of the fabrics were bought then or spirited from my stash/scrap boxes soon afterwards.  To my shame, this quilt still isn't finished but I'm (finally) getting there!

Since I last blogged about this project (almost a year ago!), I've managed to keep the project just about ticking over (have I mentioned that it's really boring and tedious to pin and piece?!) and have pieced four sections in 5x5 block 'bites' which have been/will be pieced together to form larger sections of the quilt:  

*All 255 blocks (yes, 255!) were pieced before I started piecing the sections so I've not necessarily made as much progress as I've made it appear!!!*
Blue and white - section eight (of twelve)
My apologies, the photo is awful - the camera couldn't cope with the combination of colours.  Or something .  Whatever the problem, this was the best of a bad bunch!
Another section done
You can see why I don't blog about this very often, all the photos look the same!
Bottom left section
This is the bottom left-hand section of the top - essentially, it's more of the same!

I had a great plan to lay all the pieced sections on the floor and take a progress photo so you could see how it all tied together and how much progress I've made but it was too bloomin' big!  The blocks are 6" (finished), so the top section alone measures 90" x 42" - too big for my front room floor.  Until I've completed the top and can take a 'put the quilt on the lawn and then lean out of an upstairs window' photo, this is the best I can do:
(slow) Progress
It's an atrocious mosaic but it'll hopefully give you an idea of what's left to do!
As you can see, I've *only* got two 5x5 sections to piece and then I'm a few seams away from a finished top.  The next section is currently under construction and will hopefully be finished by the end of the week.  The way I'm constructing it means I'll only have one very long seam to piece and is by far my favoured way of constructing quilts, especially when they're quite wide and have lots of seam intersections in them.  The great irony of this quilt is that if I'd chosen to hand prepare and piece the blocks/top (which, as I'm sure you'll agree, is generally a slower method of piecing compared to rotary cutting and machine piecing), I'd probably be either finished the quilt or at least well on the way with the quilting!  As it is, I'll be glad to see the back of all this tedious pinning and piecing!

In between naps (although I'm not convinced that sleeping for three or four hours almost every afternoon still qualifies as 'napping'), I've managed to plant some of my new plants.  Mainly in the bed under the front window:
Much better!!
Eventually there'll be a box 'cone' in the centre back but it's currently refusing to leave its pot.  I have the bruises to prove it!

There's been one new addition to the back garden (the hole was already there from a plant which upped and died a few weeks after planting, so all the hard work had been done!) - a Physocarpus 'Amber Jubilee' which I bought with some Thompson and Morgan vouchers I won in a Twitter giveaway, with a couple of Virginia Creepers planted behind it to cover the fence (and, more specifically, the change in colour between the old and new planks!):


My 'to be planted' queue is still substantial, however, as I find it nigh on impossible to walk away from a cheap but good plant!

The to be planted queue is a little smaller...
Most of these are going in the new raised bed (when it's built) but some are going in the ground or in the existing beds, when I get round to it/work out exactly where I want them.

The planted parts of the garden continue to please me (and I continue to ignore the gaps where plants used to be/should be/want to be):
Garden August 2015
Ignore the abandoned box in the mucky pot - it's staying there until it agrees to leave the pot and live out the front!

And the assistant head gardener continues to keep a close eye on the under gardener:

Gardening Assistant
What do you think you're playing at, sneaking in for a cuppa when there's tidying up to be done?  Now get to it or you'll feel my hand paw on the back of your head.  And bring me a biscuit while you're at it, there's a good 'un.

Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

(Final) FAL Finish: Fairy Quilt

Yes, I did it!  I've finished my niece's quilt in time for her birthday!  In fact, I've finished it about a fortnight to go so have plenty of time to keep it in the airing cupboard to ensure it's completely dry after being washed and (mostly) tumble dried.

I started this quilt in April and wasn't at all sure I'd get it finished in time (there's nothing like deciding to make a quilt for a present when the birthday is fast approaching, is there?!) but thanks to some canny block designing which made the (machine) piecing as quick and simple as possible, as well as putting just about everything else aside, I'd finished piecing the top by the middle of May:

Fairy quilt top
As you can see, it's quite a large quilt for a soon-to-be four-year-old (this is a double bed  and hers is a single) but her mam likes quilts which go over the top of the pillows and can be tucked under them, like a bed spread.  It'll make a great quilt fort, I'm sure!

The quilting wasn't without its minor dramas as I had to rip out nearly 1100" of (machine) quilting as I didn't like what I'd done (the wonky lines weren't wonky enough and just looked sloppy) but once I started on the straight lines, it went relatively quickly and all the lines were done by the middle of June:


I had a break from it for a couple of weeks while I recovered from the quilting (I have M.E., which means that any form of activity results in some sort of 'payback'; the bigger the activity, the higher the payback and the more time I spend in bed as a result.  Truth be told, I'm still recovering from the quilting, almost a month later.) and then trimmed the quilt and bound it in the same yellow as the sashing strips.  Here it is before washing:

Fairy quilt: finished!

Fairy quilt: finished!

And the (slightly skewwhiff) back, which is made of leftovers from the front (the white fairy print was going to become a pillowcase but I needed it for the back!) and 3m of a pale pink on white polka dot which was in my backing stash:

Fairy quilt - the back

Fairy quilt - the back
I love the texture of those straight lines!

And, just in case you haven't seen enough photos of it, here it is enjoying the sun, alongside a certain someone who resolutely refused to turn his face to the camera:

Fairy quilt: finished!

Fairy quilt - the back
If you look very (very!) closely, you can just see the outline of the label in the bottom left-hand corner.

And the corners - you can just make out the dotty backing fabric:

Fairy quilt corners

I washed and dried it (in my mam's machines - thanks, Mam!) yesterday and it's now in the airing cupboard.  I took a photo of it before putting it in, though, and I think it's crinkled nicely:

Fairy quilt

All in all, I'm pleased with this quilt and can definitely see me making another one in this style (this is my second one but they've both been designed 'from scratch' using Sarah's marvellous design as a guide).  In fact, I've had one planned for about a year and making this quilt has made me shove it up the to do list!

Quilt stats: (this is mainly for my benefit so I can refer back to it if needed!)

Size before quilting and washing:
62.5" x 109"
Size after washing: 61.5" x 108" (it hasn't shrunk much, has it?!)
Fabric: two panels of Butterfly Dance in pink and the main butterfly dance print in both pink and white (all by Cinderberry Stitches) and various pinks and whites from my stash and scrap boxes
Pattern: based on the Stained Quilt by Sarah
Block size: 15" x 15"
Sashing: 0.5" (in Kona Daffodil)
Wadding: Warm and white
Backing: leftovers plus three metres of pale pink on white dot (Makower, I think)
Binding: Kona Daffodil
Piecing thread: Aurifil 50 wt 2021
Piecing setting: stitch length 2, top and bottom tension 'normal'
Quilting thread: King Tut 'Angel Pink'
Quilting setting: stitch length 3, top tension 5.5, bottom tension loosened so the screw says twenty five past eleven
Quilting design: Straight lines 1" apart, plus in the ditch either side of the main sashing strips

This is my final finish for this quarter of the Finish Along and I'm linking up with Adrianne:

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie continues to enjoy the sun:
Enjoying the sun
No, I'm not going to pose for a photo, this is as good as you're getting.

Thanks for popping in!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

FAL Finish: The Small Quilt With The Annoyingly Wavy Border Which Drove Me Batty Every Time I Looked At It

My current FAL list had a new item on it this time, which feels quite unusual as I seem to roll over the same projects quarter after quarter: a small quilt/wall hanging which I made when I hadn't been quilting long (the label says I finished it in 2008) and which hung above my stairs.   It's the second quilt I made and is the first one which was machine pieced:

Wall hanging

The problem with it smacked me between the eyes every time I looked at it (which was at least a dozen times a day!) and slowly but surely drove me batty(/battier).  I'm sure you've already spotted it but, just in case you haven't, I'll tell you: the border was wavy, the corners weren't square and it didn't hang right due to a combination of the aforementioned waviness and me taking notice of a blog post about 'I don't make hanging sleeves for quilts, I put hanging triangles in the corners'.  As someone who detests making hanging sleeves (even back at the beginning of this hobby!), this really appealed to me.  What I didn't know is that (corner) hanging triangles only really work if you're hanging a very small quilt.  I had to tack a partial sleeve between the triangles so that the weight of the quilt was more evenly distributed and pin a few tucks into the hanging triangles so that the weight of the quilt (which isn't significant) didn't drag the quilt out of shape.  I was only partially successful but I hung it up and called it done, faults and all.

The day came (somewhere around November last year) when I couldn't stand it for a moment longer.  I contemplated throwing out the quilt or donating it to the dogs' home but then realised that I was still rather fond of it, just not the wavy borders and not-square corners.  It was then I decided that a touch of surgery would be in order and that listing it on my FAL list would give me the impetus I needed to get the scalpel out.  (Not literally but only because I don't have one.  If I did, I definitely would have used it, I'm sure!)

I washed and dried it (it had been hanging on the wall since 2008 with just the occasional shake/hoover to get rid of the dust!) and then unpicked the binding and set it aside to re-use later.  Then came a few days of dithering over whether to remove both borders or just the wavy navy one.  In the end I cut off the navy border and had a good look at it with just the narrow aqua border before deciding that I wanted to have the blocks going to the edge of the quilt (even though it does make the binding a touch harder as there are points which could be lost) and got the unpicker back out.  At this stage it started to look a little sad but there was a glimmer of hope in there somewhere:


I sorted the binding (pressed it open, starched it and then re-pressed it in half) and stitched it on, being careful with the points.  I decided that blocking would up my chances of it hanging flat(tish) on the wall and so got to work.   Usually, I pin the item out when it's dry and then lay a well-wrung cloth over (this is my preferred method of blocking fabric and yarn items) but decided that the quilt needed to be washed again now the wavy borders had been removed as they were probably pulling the blocks out of line and a wash would help get rid of that distortion, and if it was going to be wet then I may as well block while wet!

Wall hanging - blocking

And then re-hung it on the wall (after a friend's husband chopped 6" off the dowel for me):

Wall hanging - back on the wall!

It's taken me a while to get used to the smaller quilt up there but it's much better than it was and it's far better than an empty wall.  I even managed to incorporate the original label on the back so it has two finish dates: 2008 (on the label) and 2015 (on the binding)!

The finishes link-up for this quarter is now open, so I'm linking up with Adrianne:

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

We're having a mini heatwave (and yes, I'm complaining about it!  I don't complain about it being really cold or raining for a solid fortnight in January, I save it for the summer!) and Archie is torn between enjoying the sunshine (mainly on the front garden, which means I can't be away from the front window for more than a couple of minutes in case he takes it upon himself to wander onto the road or next door's garden) and doing the dog equivalent of sitting inside with all the windows open and the curtains closed:

It's too hot!!
It's too hot!!
He does like the back garden as well, just not as much as the front!  (You never get people passing the back garden so there's no one to watch out for and no reason to stand guard.  And why else would you want to be in the garden?!)

Hello, Mrs Bee!
Hello, Mrs Bee!
The feverfew in the background had an argument with itself and has decided to get a divorce (from itself) - once it's flowered I'll sort it out but it seemed a shame to lop off the fallen bit when it was full of flowers!

This is one of his favourite places to lay in the back garden as he can see up the path and through the gaps in the gate to the road out the front.  If he's in the back and he's not on this spot then he'll be stood at the gate, either with his nose poked through a gap or trying to see if it will open with the application of a paw and some serious staring...

Enjoying the sunshine
You don't need to take a photo of almost the entire garden...

The garden is taking shape, if you ignore the blue trug of pebbles and the blocks seemingly scattered round - they're marking out where I'm getting another raised bed (the ground there is dreadful and 'poorly draining' doesn't quite go far enough as a description so the only solution is a raised bed), once the landscaper gets back to me with a quote and has a gap in his diary.  I'm hoping it will be built by the autumn (I have plants to put in it!) but I'm not in a huge rush.  (Although if he said he could do it tomorrow, I'd snap his hand off!)
That's better: you don't need a photo of the garden, I'm the star turn...
...because I'm the star turn: you just need a photo of me!  Honestly, you just can't get the staff these days *tuts*

Thanks for popping in, I hope you're doing well with your FAL list - don't forget to link up all your finishes before the linky closes (on 6th July at 11pm PST.  I think that's 7am on 7th July for us in the UK but I'm not completely certain so you're probably better off linking up before the deadline is imminent!)

I'm off to lie down in a darkened room - shout me when it starts to rain, will you?!!

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