This weekend, I finished the knit summer top I cast on recently:
The pattern is ‘Anjou’ by the Berroco Design Team and is freely available. The yarn is Rowan’s Tetra cotton and was given to me by my mother. I used two skeins of the pink yarn and four and a half of the grey. I am very pleased with the yarn, which is easy to work with, comfortable to wear and had no snags or knots in any of the skeins. The pattern worked up really easily. I adapted it for working in the round. I started off making a medium size, but realized pretty quickly it would be too big. Being, shall we say, somewhat averse to unravelling and starting over, I simply decreased more often to the waist to reach size small and continued in that size from there. This does mean that below the waist, there is a bit of a bulge in the side seams, but not enough that it bothers me. The sleeves don’t have any ribbing: the natural curling of stocking stitch is used as a design element. I made sure the seam of the sleeves (only a short one, 10 rows) was visible only on the right side of the fabric, which is hidden by the curling.
I am quite happy with this top. What’s more, I have enough yarn left (four skeins of pink and 1.5 of grey) to make a second top. I am thinking of the notched hem tank top by Purl Soho. That pattern was written for a linen, ribbon-like yarn, which I think the tetra cotton would be a good substitute for. But first I must finish some other WIPs!
Yep, this post is a week late, but with good reason: this week, I submitted my doctoral thesis! This means that in a few months time, I will have to defend my work and hopefully move on to my next job with the title of Dr! Needless to say it has been quite a busy time and I have had very little mental space, or indeed time, for anything other than my work. But now: on to the quilts!
For some time now, there have been two quilts in my WIP-list: one a scrap quilt, and one a Japanese quilt. The scrap quilt took its sweet time because it is genuinely a scrap quilt, i.e. I had to make enough things to have suitable scraps for the quilt. The Japanese quilt was a social project which stagnated when the friend I was making it with decided to keep hers small and finishing it. However, over the past few weeks I made some good progress on both! Not enough that they’re actually finished, of course, but good enough that I wanted to show off the work in progress.
Now, I should say that prior to this, I had NO experience with quilting. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing – and in many ways still don’t. I just approached it from a ‘let’s piece together some bits of fabric to create a pretty thing’ angle and worked from there.
So, first up: the scrap quilt. After more than a year of collecting scraps and sewing up squares, this is where it is at today:
I had always planned on just making this quilt as big as it could get. The white fabric was the limiting factor: for each coloured square, I needed a white square. At some point in the last few weeks, I finally reached the end of the white fabric and thus, the limits of my quilt. You may recognise some of these fabrics from projects I have posted on the blog before.
You can see the blue flowery fabric used to make this hybrid dress, the bingata fabric used to make this summer dress, and the yellow fabric with white-pink flowers used to make my split skirt.
I sewed up 15x15 cm squares into larger squares of 3x3, with a coloured square on each corner, a pink one in the middle and white for the other four squares. Then, I cut through the middle of the white squares, rotated 3 of the ensuing patches and voilà, this quilt is the result.
Once I had all the squares, things suddenly moved really quickly. Determined to keep the momentum going, every morning before I went to work I would lay all the squares out on my bed, as above. That way, when I came home, I had a lot of incentive to sew up as many of them as possible: if I had to remove all the squares before going to bed, I might never find the correct order of colours again! Yes, I could have just taken a picture, but remember this was a trick designed to get me to keep working on it. As it happened, the first two times I had to replace the squares the next morning I could not remember the order in which I had placed them before. Those times I just made something up and came up with a new, probably equally reasonable design. By the third night enough squares had been attached that it was clear where the remaining ones should go. Which brings me to my next point…
Remember how I said I know nothing about quilting? Yeah, I really know nothing about quilting. When you google ‘quilting how to’ you mostly get info on the bit I already did: piecing fabric together in interesting patterns. But what happens afterwards is mostly kept a mystery, especially when you only have a regular sewing machine. I even found several tutorials (including a Craftsy class) that say that after you’ve made the top, you should just send the whole thing to a professional to quilt with a long-arm quilting machine. Uh, no. For starters, I’m pretty sure those don’t exist here, and second, that’s not how homemade works in this household. So I’m going to attempt the actual quilting on my regular sewing machine with very little guidance. To prevent me from mucking up my lovely scrap quilt, I made a little table runner with the scraps of the scrap quilt (i.e. leftover squares that I had cut when I was being a bit too enthusiastic):
This is going to be my practice piece for quilting techniques. Afterwards, I will move on to the big quilt. I know that with my regular sewing machine, it’s going to be impossible to quilt the middle of the big quilt by machine. I am still considering if I will do it by hand. I also have a cousin who quilts and I may ask her for advice (unfortunately, I live a long way from my family).
Apart from that, there is also the Japanese quilt! A friend of mine who is also into arts and crafts suggested this. We would do a 3x3 quilt of different Japanese-themed quilted motives. We got together several times to work on this, doing practically all sewing by hand. Later on, she decided to make hers into a 2x2 cushion cover rather than a 3x3 wall hanging, which of course meant she was finished more quickly than I was. After that, I didn’t really work on it anymore – until now!
As you can see, several squares are already finished, but some I haven’t even started on yet. I have my friend to thank for many of these fabrics, by the way! The white blob in the lower left is going to be a moon rabbit. The other three squares still left open will be a koi carp, an origami crane and... something else. I have a few ideas for the final one, but nothing clear. I may also redo the lantern - it was the first square I did and it's not as refined as the rest (and a bit oversized). But we will see how much puff I still have when I finish the rest.
So, that’s an update on how my quilts are progressing. It is starting to seem like maybe there will be an end to some of these long-term projects! I hope that now that a very hectic time in my professional life is behind me, I have more energy to tackle my craft projects.
Another summer vacation season has passed (well, for me, anyway). This year, I did much the same as last year… which is to say, not very much. Sometimes you just need downtime. But here is an overview of the (relevant) things I did do.
1. I bought fabric
Yes, yes, I know. I shouldn’t have. But I did. My mother and I made a little trip to a fabric store in a nearby village. Our reason (i.e. excuse) was that I needed fabric for a gift for yet another coworker’s baby, as well as fabric backing for the Star Wars blanket I made for my boyfriend to stop it curling so much. I bought both of those, which would be fine since they clearly fall under the ‘only buy supplies for gifts’ rule… and then I found the clearance section. So, apart from the fabric for gifts, I bought:
On the left are two remnants of a great cotton/linen mix. It's a quite firm fabric and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but I loved the colours and the different patterns within each fabric. On the right is the lovely embroidered fabric I got for a snip. The fabric on the bottom has a beautiful edge which I would love to use as the hem on a dress. I'm going to try to combine the two, but if that gets too busy they will have to become two separate items, of course.
2. I was given yarn
My parents went on holiday and my mother brought me a souvenir! In the shape of two big bags of yarn. One of them I wasn't able to take home straight away (I don't drive), so you'll have to take my word for it that it was a purple cotton/wool blend from Rowan. The other bag was filled with Rowan tetra cotton:
The yarn is made of small individual threads that appear to be knitted in the round around a central, thicker thread. The pink one has some of the grey in it, and the grey one some of the pink, which means they combine really well. It's a nice, light cotton and perfect for a summer top. Thanks, mom!
3. I wanted to start a cardigan, but I didn’t…
For ages now, I have wanted to make a stranded cardigan using rainbow coloured yarn. I finally got the rainbow coloured yarn, I had my pattern all picked out - and then my gauge would not match the pattern. The pattern had no sizing options, and since the gauge at which the fabric looked nice was tighter than was called for in the pattern, knitting it at that gauge would have meant I would never have been able to wear it. So I'm shelving that project until I find a new pattern with a gauge that matches (or with sizing options so I can just cheat and knit a larger size at my tight gauge).
4. ... so I started a summer top instead
Remember how I said at nr. 2 that Rowan tetra cotton is perfect for a summer top? Well, after the failure of the stranded cardigan, I started that summer top! It's knitting up really quickly and I expect to be finished soon. The pattern is Anjou by Berroco and is freely available. I am knitting some pink stripes at the bottom, the rest of the body and the sleeves in grey, and the collar in pink again.
5. I made a wrap blouse
Being in a summery mood, I couldn't stop myself from making a nice summer top using another Lekala pattern sold by BootstrapFashion. This time, I used pattern SKU 57589. I will tell you all about it in a minute, but first, pictures:
I wanted to use up this fabric because I needed scraps for my quilt (although in the end I still have enough of this fabric to make something else). I also wanted to try another made-to-measure pattern after the two-colour dress I made. While I like the end result and am happily wearing it, I wouldn't consider this an unqualified success. As with the dress, I didn't understand all the instructions so I ended up muddling along a bit to get everything to fit. This did not work out as well for the blouse as it did for the dress. Let's just say there's a reason I'm not showing you the inside of the collar. In addition, I think this model is probably more suited for someone with boobs. I have very small breasts and even made-to-measure patterns can't fix everything: this model makes it look like my waist is the widest part of my torso. If I had a larger cup size (or indeed a cup size - yes, they're that small) the blouse would fall a bit better in front, it wouldn't bunch up at the waist quite as much and the whole thing would be a bit better balanced. But, the fabric is beautiful, it's very comfortable and summery and I'm happy I made it.
In the pictures, the right side of the blouse is pulled up a bit which is why it looks uneven in the back. That's not an issue with the pattern, that's just me not looking in the mirror properly.
6. I made good progress on my quilts
In fact, I made such good progress on my quilts, that I am making a blog post specifically about them! Check back at the weekend to see some pictures and me babbling about my first experiences with quilting.
Hi, I'm Mina and I have a stash problem. This is my way of trying to fix it.
Last yarn purchase:
Last fabric purchase: 02/03/2017