Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I didn't actually cast on that sweater.

Well, mostly, anyway.  It's a swatch cuff swatch cuff swatch.  Definitely a swatch.
And wow is that a busy cable.  There are crossings in every single right-side row.  Looks like I'm embarking on another Keep-Your-Wits-About-You-At-All-times project.
You know.  My favorite kind.

And in quilty news, in between the other two quilts I'm working on, I threw together this mini quilt top as a kind of rest from all the brightness.

It measures just a little bit shy of 11x14 inches.  Eventually I'll get it quilted and bound.
Well, that is, if I don't start any more quilts or sweaters, I guess.

Monday, April 20, 2015

At last, those quilty pics

Behold my design
wallcouch.  (I know it looks like there are wild creatures, possibly pumas, under the patchwork, but there are only big cushions.  Really.)  (Also please disregard the whacky crooked mini-blind in the background.  After a certain point, I just get tired of trying to make it be straight. Because okay, fine, be that way.  You understand.)
This is one of those great patterns that look really complex, but are amazingly simple.  There are only two block units:

The nine-patches are simple - I could probably do them in my sleep.  The triangle-in-a-square blocks (which I think of as mountains) are harder than they look.
I mentioned in my last post that I had found a new tool to make my piecing easier.  Last time I worked on this quilt, this set of rulers hadn't been invented yet.  Or possibly I just hadn't heard of them.  Whichever,  I'm deeply happy with these things.

If you google 'tri-recs' you'll see all kinds of tutorials, including some videos. 
Previously, I'd had a paper pattern taped to the back of my cutting ruler which I would line up on my 3.5 inch strips of fabric.  I took a picture just before I tore the paper off and threw it away with great whoops of glee:
My old way of cutting the side triangles was even worse.  I'd done some math to try to figure out a rectangle to cut in half diagonally to make the triangles.  This was less successful than I could have wished.  After stitching, my block units needed a lot of trimming to reach even 'good enough' status.  This was one of the things that had bogged me down on this quilt.  Nothing like getting kicked in the butt by something that shouldn't be that hard...

One of the things I saw on a tutorial for using the rulers is that if you position your first triangle next to the edge of the fabric like this:
You end up with a wasted triangular piece of fabric. But, if you slide the ruler to the right for that initial cut, leaving enough room to fit one of the side triangles:
You end up with pieces that are usable for another project.
And if while cutting out the light side triangles, you throw in a couple of big isosceles triangles:

you could end up with some pretty cool blocks for another quilt.

Because you really have to test out the new rulers, right?
And then you could end up on a roll and have a bunch of blocks all done while you're stitching the blocks you're really working on.

 (I'm currently up to twelve of those blocks finished.  The color scheme is roughly green, purple, orange.  Some of the purples pulled in some pinks, some of the greens pulled in some blues, and some of the oranges brought along some yellows, but I'm completely happy with that.  The blocks are amazingly cheery to look at.

And I've got stacks and stacks of nine-patches and mountain blocks done, now.  I think I'm very close to having enough, if my math is right.  (I will check my math.  Because.  I'm very good at math, but that doesn't stop me from being a complete ditz at math.)
The part that's in the photo at the top of the post will be partially dismantled, mostly just separating some of the rows.  I only stitched it together because I was dying to see what it was going to look like.  New fabrics have been added to the project since I started it, and in order to get a good mix of colors, I'll need to make sure the newer blocks are mixed into the older ones. 

And I've even been making an effort to fold my fabrics neatly after I'm done cutting.  It won't last, but they still look better than what got packed in boxes when I moved.

So, yay for scrappy quilts!

Edited to add:  I'm going to actually attempt a quilty link-up thing.  (I'm not convinced it will work, since usually I'm not even able to comment on most of the quilt blogs.)  So here goes nothing:
I'm linking to Oh Scrap! at  Quilting is More Fun Than Housework (because, seriously? Who could resist that name?) (Not to mention the links to many fabulous things that can be found there.) (Did it work?)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Alright, back in business

Though considering how hardware impaired I've been lately, I plugged my new SD card reader in with great trepidation.
Luckily I haven't blown it up yet, so here's a couple of quick pictures, while I've got them.

I'm actually using the wayback machine for these - they were taken back in March, but I was lazy and didn't offload them to the computer.  That'll learn me.
A large male pheasant moved into the barns last fall, and has spent the entire winter there, entertaining the pigs and sharing their food.  (Hopefully they don't begrudge him the corn.  At least they haven't said anything about it, so we presume it was okay with them.)
He moves from one barn to another at will, so there's no knowing where he'll turn up next.
One day back in March, we opened the front door and discovered this:

Actually, when we opened the door, he was headed down the steps, but by the time I got back with the camera, he was already facing back up them.  (The house is earth-sheltered, so the front porch is actually below ground level.)
Our theory is that he'd gotten bored with exploring the barns and wanted to check out the house.

The pictures are taken through the storm door, so they're a little bit fuzzy.  (I wish I'd been better able to capture his plumage, because he's flat-out gorgeous!)
We weren't leaving the storm door closed to keep him out;  the real reason was this:.

Seriously, that picture is blurry because he was so excited, he was actually vibrating.
"Birrrrrrd...   Big birrrrrrd...  Want birrrrrrd...."

Though considering Mr Pheasant is way bigger than the cat, I'd have a hard time placing a bet...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

At least I don't need to glue it.

I seem to have broken the card reader for my computer, so no pictures for a while.  I was so focused on not putting the card in backwards that I managed to put it in upside down.  Apparently this has a bad effect on the various electronic bits inside, as it is so broken that it won't even let the computer boot up if it's plugged in.  Thorough is me, I guess.
And I was so excited about the pictures on the card!  I got hooked on Pinterest (Did anyone ever
tellwarn me about Pinterest?  Like how wonderful it is?  Like what a timesuck it is?), which led to me looking at a lot of pictures of quilts, which led to me looking at a lot of blogs about quilts (and my feedly is now fatter, because you know how much I love a good timesuck), which led to me missing quilting a lot, since it's been a long time.
So, thanks to wonderful folks like Bonnie Hunter and a bunch of others, I dug out a bunch of fabric, bought a couple of new tools, and made a bunch of progress on an old project that has been bogged down for far too long.

As I mentioned, my access to my camera is kaput, so this is part of the pattern image.  (The quilt is called Starry Nine Patch and is just gorgeous, but the pattern doesn't seem to be available any more.)  The things I like best about it are that it looks fabulous in lots and lots of colors (scrap happy!), it uses lots of 9-patches (which are my favorite block!), and there are stars and stars and stars everywhere you look.
While I was working on the cutting and sewing, I took lots and lots of photos of the process.  Unfortunately, all those photos are stuck in that itty bitty SD card, and will remain so until I can get to town and buy a new reader.  *sigh*
But all the sewing doesn't mean I've abandoned the knitting!  I've also been plugging away at my vest and am in the home stretch.
Which of course means that I may or may not have printed out the pattern for this

as my next project.
In red.
Because I've always wanted a red cabled sweater.
Red.  Oh, yeah...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

There's a reason I'm not allowed to use superglue...

So, I suddenly had a computer problem.  Basically, it wouldn't go.  Or rather, it would start to go, then stop.  As in a big fat 'Nope, not doing this anymore.'  A whole week of giant paperweight.
I shanghaied my brother to have a look.  (I'm software, not hardware.  If unplugging it and plugging it back in doesn't work, I'm lost.  My brother builds his own systems.  For fun.  He was just asking for it.)
He poked around in the guts for a moment or two and discovered that the main fan was loose.  He held it in place while I hit the on switch, and the thing powered up normally for the first time in days.
"So, it works while you're holding it in place!"  I said.
"You can't afford me."
Well, darn.
He got it balanced precariously in place, and it kept running, but we both knew that was temporary at best.  Apparently it was mostly held in place by the suction created by the thermal paste.   After a little more poking around, he found the broken bit of the bracket it's supposed to lock on to and suggested I glue it back on.
"Yep,"  I said.  "When it stops working again, I'll do that.  For now, I'm going with the 'if it works, don't fix it' clause."  
And it ran long enough for me to get some emails sent and check on a few things, then shut itself off again.
All righty, then.
I had the tube of superglue ready, knowing this moment would come.  (Those of you who know me are already laughing.)  The piece that I had to glue back on to the bracket was about the size of my little fingernail.  I held it delicately between thumb and index finger, applied a tiny drop of superglue, then pushed the little bitsy bit into place.  I waited a few seconds for the glue to bond, then let go and pulled back my hand.
Or rather, I tried to let go.  The bitsy bit was stuck to my fingers.  I finally got my hand back, but the bit was still stuck between my finger and thumb.  Apparently the bond to my skin was stronger that the bond to its rightful place in the world.  So I grabbed it with the thumb and index finger of my left hand and tried to pry it loose.
You saw this one coming, didn't you?  Yeah, now I had both thumbs and both index fingers stuck to a piece of plastic the size of my little fingernail.
So, I didn't really need all of that skin I was wasting on my fingertips.  Purely superfluous.  Completely unnecessary.  And it'll grow back.  At least, it did the last time I used superglue.  And the time before.
Once I got all my fingers back, I held the bitsy bit tweezed in a pair of needlenose pliers while I applied the glue and poked it back where it belonged.
Here's a photo of the innards, after I got the bit glued back.  (And recovered my fingers.)  See the orange frame between the upside-down 'gigabyte' blue thing and the top of the picture?  That little tiny tab at the bottom center of the frame (dead center of the picture) is the bit I had to put back.  It sticks down from the base of the frame and the fan has a metal bit that locks onto it.
Here's my finger sort of pointing to it, for scale.
And just to show how tech savvy I am, here's a pic of the stuff I piled up to set the fan on while I was doing all that repair work.

The wires where it plugged into the board (the motherboard?  the surfboard?  I have no idea.) were too short to let me set it down and it didn't seem like a good idea to just let it dangle.  (What?  Just unplug it and set it aside?  Are you crazy?  Then I'd have to figure out where I unplugged it from.  Which would be perfectly clear at the moment I unplugged it, but fraught with indecisiveness when it came time to plug it back in.  Here?  That doesn't look right.  Here?  No, here?  Crap.)
Remember, I'm the one who can't even work a tube of superglue...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

And more knitting, since it's too cold to do anything else...

I've got three finishes for 2015 already!

Dad has an old pair of leather mittens.

Clearly he's had them for a while. The pair of wool mittens that line them have become too worn to serve their function.  RIP old wool mittens.  (I didn't get a picture of them.  Your first thought on seeing them would have been "Oh, the poor little things...")
He requested new mittens.  With temperatures hovering in the single digits, with occasional dips into the negative, leather mitts lined with wool mitts are extremely useful at chore time.

This is actually Pair of Mittens Number Two.  The first pair was knit in black wool; warm enough, but the cuffs were too short.  (Again, no picture.  You can probably picture them yourself.  Black mittens.  See?  No picture necessary, really.)  So Pair of Mittens Number One was downgraded to just regular old mittens, and I made Pair of Mittens Number Two to line the leather gloves.  And despite what it looks like in the picture, they really are the same size.  It's just a crappy picture.  (sigh)

Finish number three is a nice warm cowl for Wicked Good Stepmother, made from yarn spun from alpaca fleeces from her own alpacas.
Though full disclosure here - this is a total cheat.  I'd actually started this project last year, using yarn I'd had left from a scarf I knit her a couple of years ago.   It started out to be a Frost hat, in black, because I'm crazy and knit cables with black yarn.  More than once.  I was afraid I didn't have enough of the black yarn to knit the whole thing, so I'd cast on with the gray and knit the ribbed band, trying to stretch the black.  Turned out I had even less yarn that I'd thought, so I'd put the 'hat' in timeout while I considered options.  For a year.  I came across it recently, along with what was left of the gray alpaca yarn, and a light bulb went off.  So, I turned the hat into a cowl by knitting gray ribbing to match the cast on edge, and casting off.  Ta da!  WGS has enjoyed the warmth (alpaca!) in the aforementioned cold temps.

So, with three finishes under my belt, I figured I was entitled to cast on something new.  (We'll ignore the UFOs in various bags here and there.  (And there, too.)  I'm working from stash, so it's all good.)  I recalled that I had some pretty green yarn that WGS had given me a while back.  I was pretty sure there were two skeins, which might be enough for a hat and/or maybe some fingerless mitts.  (Vancouver Fog has been nibbling on the edge of my brain for a while, thanks to kmkat.)  When I went and hunted it up, I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually had four skeins!  Woohoo!
I totaled up yardage and realized I could really expand my expectations.
What to knit, what to knit?  I thought I might have enough for a vest.  Ravelry to the rescue!  I started pattern-hunting, trying out various criteria.  Yardage.  Yarn weight.  It occured to me that top-down might be a good plan, since the yardage I had was right on the borderline of the smallest sizes of what I was finding.
Yep, Ravelry comes through:  Bramblewood.  There are even cables!

 (Someone stole all the color out of my picture.  It's really a deep forest green.)

So, let's step back for moment and think about how this came about.
1.  I want to knit something.
2. I want to knit something with this yarn.
3. What can I knit with this yarn?
4. I can knit a vest with this yarn.
5. I cast on a vest.

Do you think I might be a process person?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A little catchup of the knitting variety

Catching up, that is.  Not the red stuff.  Though I did knit with some red stuff, come to think of it.
I made four hats in December, knitting on first one, then another, over the course of the day, depending on which recipient might be home at what particular time.  To make it even more interesting, all the hats involved two-color knitting in three different techniques.

There were two of Top of the World,* an easy alternating of two colors.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take any pictures.  Yeah...

And a purple and black  Pecan Pie , in two-color brioche.
(It's really a darker purple than the picture, but I can seldom get purple to show up properly.)  I'd never brioched before, so that was an interesting journey.

Last but not least, a red and white Weeping Willow in double-knitting.  (One of my favorite techniques!)
I made this one for my dad, who prefers to wear it folded jauntily like this:  

Using three techniques that were so similar, and so so different, all at the same time?  I didn't dare try to knit on autopilot, since my fingers could unexpectedly take off in any of several directions.  I'd start a row in corrugated ribbing and then discover I'd completed it in double knitting, with a couple of brioches in the middle somewhere.  Strict attention had to be paid at all times, no matter how interesting the movie was getting.  But I love the hats I ended up with, and the recipients were all pleased, so it was worth all the tinking.

Of course, not everyone got hats.  Some people got Hot-Chocolate-on-a-Stick and Homemade Truffles.  I learned to make marshmallows for this gig (plain and peppermint!), made caramel, and chocolate blocks, cut them all into squares and poked them with sticks to make choc-peppemint cocoa and choc-caramel cocoa.  Just add hot milk and swizzle away.  The truffles were chocolate-peppermint and chocolate-hazelnut.  Messy but tasty.

All in all, a pleasant but sticky holiday.

* I have to tell ya, I loved knitting this pattern.  My daughter bought it for me at NH S&W last year as a Mother's Day gift, so I knit her and her fella each one for Christmas.  Great pattern, fun to knit!