Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knitting on Wednesday: Sweater Quest

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So I was thinking I'd pause with the new knit stitch a week posts while I catch up on some new and old knitting projects. And I don't have a catchy phrase that rhymes with any day of the week, so I'm going instead with "Knitting on Wednesday." :)

I went on a sweater quest recently, not unlike last year's quest for a blanket. My Log cabin blanket, by the way, has grown quite nicely, and I'm almost finished with it... pictures soon. My sweater quest was long and arduous because, quite simply there's A LOT of ugly sweaters in the world. No really, not misunderstood or naturally beautiful - ugly, ugly sweaters. When it doesn't even look good on the nice-looking model, I have to think twice about it. :)

My inspiration was this beautiful sweater, from Late Summer:


I don't know a ton about sweaters, but this looks to me like a simple crewneck (?) sweater with an open, lacy knit pattern. Since this is my first sweater, I considered only beginner patterns I could easily keep track of...

1. Cropped Sweater by Andi Satterlund


I love this style of sweater and the scoop neck, but I think I'll save it for a later project with a tighter weave...


2. 3/4 Sleeve Classic Pullover


I like the 3/4 sleeves, since I always push the sleeves up my arms, anyway, and it looks like a looser fit. I just wasn't sure I could adapt it to suit a more open knit...

3. Alcina Sweater
This sweater already has a lacy, open look and I love the neckline - I just wasn't sure if I could figure out how to knit it without the ruching at the waistline (total beginner, I know).

4. My First Raglan Pullover

In the end, I decided to take the My First Sweater class on Craftsy, and work along with their free pattern, above. I'm intimidated by complicated knitting directions, so it's comforting to have a visual to follow along with. I don't love that rolled neckline, but I'm thinking I may be able to modify it if I don't get too lost. Also, I'm not sure about that eyelet design on the raglan sleeves, but I'll give it a chance, or modify it.

I started with a sport-weight yarn on size 9 needles, which would make for an open look, but not quite as open as the movie version:

Knitting my first sweater... first start.

The color match was fairly close, but all in all it didn't inspire me...  then I dropped some stitches at the beach, and had to totally unravel it.  Bummer. :(

Then I found this magical yarn:

working on my first sweater...

I'm knitting on size 11 needles for a more open look and I love the way the striping pattern works its way over the fabric, kind of a rainbow-y, tie-dye effect. I did a swatch test and worked out the math (I think) to make it work. And no, it's not the smallest sweater on earth (though the finished sweater might be fairly small) - it's very stretchy! :)

Here's a closeup of the yarn, the color name is Stained Glass, and it is quite gorgeous in person:

pretty yarn
pretty yarn

So what do you guys think? Have any of you knitted a sweater before? Any knitting tips for me would be appreciated! :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Hungry, hungry hippo

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Finished Hippo

Well, Hungry Hippo is what I'm calling her, because she ate up fiberfill stuffing like nobody's business. I thought a full 12 oz bag would work, but I had to make an emergency trip to the craft store to buy some more to fill out her curves. :)

Indeed, sew cute.

I'd say she's about toaster-sized, if a toaster sported an adorable head on it. :) I crafted her for the Sew Cute To Cuddle blog hop which is stopping off at Feeling Stitchy today - stop by for a chance to win a copy of the book!

I sewed her completely by hand, which ate up at least two full nights of sewing. The book is so well-laid out that even impatient, easily distracted novice sewers like myself can follow along.

I used a pretty fabric I'd been saving for a pillow back for some time now, and a couple of tiny turquoise scraps I dug out of my mom's fabric stash. I still had oodles of safety eyes from my knitted monkey and monster making days, and they worked out well.

Untitled

The funny thing about sewing, for me, is how hard a time my brain has of visualizing what's happening, until I'm finished. Then, everything snaps into place and I have a forehead-smack moment. All in all, it was a fun sew, and a fun book.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feline Friday: Pics and template tweaks

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I really loved this little guy last week - so cute and so photogenic. :)

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I've been playing with the photo template I use for the shelter cat photos:

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Previously, I would just put the shelter logo and ID number anywhere I could fit them.

I decided to use one standard size and orientation because their system stretches out any other orientation. And I added a sidebar to keep all the information in a consistent spot.

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Someone adopted this charmingly cross-eyed kitty and named him Dobby. Perfect, right? :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Three Things Thursday: Knitting in Japanese

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Setsuko Hara knitting Mariko Okada in Late Autumn Hand Quilting on Cozy Pumpkin
1. Setsuko Hara knitting; 2. Mariko Okada in Late Autumn; 3. Beautiful hand quilting threads on Cozy Pumpkin

Lately I'm on a big Yasujiro Ozu kick - he's a Japanese filmmaker who worked in the 1930's, 40's, 50's and 60's. My love of Ozu began years back, when I tearfully watched Tokyo Story, then Late Spring and Early Summer.

Recently I got Hulu Plus, and saw that almost ALL of Ozu's films are available there, so I've been working my way through them methodically, ever since. That knitting image of Setsuko Hara is fitting, since I typically knit through them - of course they're not embroidery friendly because I don't speak Japanese. :)

There's something so elementally simple and profound about his films. He's one of those filmmakers who feel like a kindred spirit to me - I mean, probably I'm overstepping my bounds, and if we had ever met in real life we'd have nothing to actually say to each other, but what I mean is - the world he presents through light and color and emotion in his films makes sense to me. A world where family is central, home is essential, and we all spend our lives either missing or making connections with each other. Our lives are filled with humor, silliness, anger, tedium, responsibility, joy, and regret.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Ridge stitch

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Ridge stitch

I really liked this stitch. Just my style - very easy to remember, easy to stitch, and hard to mess up. :)

I cast on 16 stitches on size 9 needles, in Vannas's Choice (left) and a blue worsted weight yarn from my stash (right)

Row 1: knit
Row 2: *K2 tog all across the row*
Row 3: K in front and back of each st
Row 4: purl

The backside is also pretty lovely:

Ridge stitch, wrong side

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Finished embroidery

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Finished embroidery

Well, I am finally finished with the embroidery on this soon-to-be-pillow.

Actually, I've been finished for weeks, but I was dreading the photography portion of my finish. Instead, I started on about 3 new projects. Just like a crafter, right? ;)

Finished: details

For whatever reason, it was so difficult to capture the colors and texture on this largish square piece.

Zoomed out, flat photos look so, well, flat. I switched back and forth between my HTC One phone camera and my fancy camera, but my fancy camera got the best shots.

Finished: details

Either way, I'm quite happy with all the colors and textures I was able to put into this piece. Adding crewel wool was really what brought it all together and made it possible for me to finish.

Finished: details

I love all the raised textures on the leaves. Though far from perfect, they're a wonderful pop of color. I like that I used 3 different shades of green (1 dark green pearl cotton, 1 lime green embroidery floss, and 1 lime green crewel wool). I would never have thought it until I tried it, but they combine well with each other.

I'll admit it, there were so many moments when I thought I'd chosen a terrible color and panicked. But for the most part, I rarely picked out mistake colors and just kept stitching. By plowing ahead, I was able to create relationships between colors I would have never imagined before...

Finished: details

This remains my favorite corner - stitched in pinks and red and yellows, in mostly in 6 strand embroidery floss - it's quite shiny and bright.

But it's tied for my affections with this corner flower motif-
Finished: details

I really went nuts with it in color and texture - it's about half 6 strand embroidery floss, and half crewel wool. My favorite part is that satin stitched jade greenish area near the center, with a teal crewel wool strand couched on top with 1 strand of orange crewel wool. I would have never put those 3 colors together ordinarily, but I just went with it and loved the result.

There are so many little details that bring me such joy in this piece, and it just feels satisfying to know that I stitched them all. I won't bore you with every bit, but suffice to say, I really love this piece, and it's one of my all time favorites.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feline Friday: Animal Defense League

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Rico

Last weekend I headed out to the Animal Defense League of Texas for a special Cat Photography workshop, where I learned all about grooming and photographing cats.

As luck would have it, the camera used in the video demonstrations was the same as mine, so it was easy to follow along. I plugged the settings into my camera, and since I hardly ever mess with the manual modes, I didn't know what to expect.

But the result was awesomeness!

Freida

The camera settings did a really nice job of capturing the beauty of the cats' eyes. And by setting the camera to burst mode (well, DUH, me) I was able to get a lot more photos before the cats wiggled away.

Keith

Having the focus point set in the center took some getting used to - it's best when the cat's face fills the whole frame, but on pics like the one above, I could get away with the face being slightly out of focus...

Garth

I was shocked at how nice these pics were - I really learned a lot, and had a great time.

Lacy

The ADL grounds were super nice, too - very spacious, and filled with flowers and green grass.

The Cattery is like a house built for cats - with all the adoptable adult cats roaming one large room with hidey holes and overhead ramps and tunnels that go into an outdoor screened area. Everything was so clean and pleasant and the cats seemed genuinely happy. The staff and volunteers were awesome, too.

Robyn

I definitely recommend a visit to the Animal Defense League of Texas, if you're ever in the area!

Columbus

Friday, July 25, 2014

Feline Friday: Tabbies Galore

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A300907 A300905

I have noticed a weekly trend in the cats I photograph - some weeks I find tons of orange cats, last week, I saw tons of black and white cats, and this week it was tabbies. Those two above are siblings, and their expressions are so unique and individual.

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Maybe I'm a cat freak, but I do feel that each cat has its own personality and expression - I love how this little one looks like she's wearing eyeshadow...

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This beauty's vivid green eyes...

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This girl's calm, friendly demeanor...

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And this extra-special ticked tabby - definitely something I don't see often, and gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Fancy Trellis stitch

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Fancy Trellis stitch

I cast on 14 stitches on size 9 needles in a pink yarn from my stash (left) and Vanna's Choice in Toffee (right).

Row 1: *K2, K2 tog, yo, K3*
Row 2: *P1, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1, yo, P2 tog, P1*
Row 3: *K2 tog, yo, K3, yo, sl 1, K1, psso*
Row 4 and 8: purl
Row 5: *yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K5*
Row 6: *yo P2 tog, P2, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1*
Row 7: *K2, yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K2 tog, yo, K1*

It's a pretty nice stitch - and I was surprised I kept up with all the directions! I like the way it stitched up best in that brown acrylic. I bet it would be really nice on a sweater.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Roumanian stitch leaves

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I'm still working steadily on my floral pillow - most of what's left now is filling in leaves...

all finished leaves from afar

I wanted to experiment with different leaf stitches, so I found a stitch diagram on Pinterest, and tried it out:


Apparently, this is the Roumanian stitch - using this diagram as a guide, I got to stitching with some dark green pearl cotton:

finished leaf!

The pearl cotton gave it a nubbly texture, but I really liked it - it's almost like fish scales. It's a lot faster to work than satin stitch or the raised herringbone stitch I learned last week, and it eats up a lot less thread.

Here's how I stitched it, step by step:
r5

I tried the same stitch using 2 strands of crewel wool on that bottom left-most leaf:

finished leaf!

I love how the crewel wool sort of floats and expands above the fabric - it's a totally different effect!

Here's how I stitched it with the wool:
stitch3

What do you all think? I'm having a ton of fun finishing up this project - I'm amazed to say I am almost done now! :)