Friday, 30 January 2015

January Projects Post, plus February plans

I have been rather dilatory about blog posts for the second half of January. This is mainly due to the fact that my time for anything enjoyable, including sewing, in the second half of the month has been much reduced by (more of the same old) illness. When I did feel well enough to sew or knit, a lot of what I have been doing has been slow going and/or part of a bigger project, or else a not-very-interesting pattern repeat. Thus, this post, which I plan to do each month this year just as a catch-all of things that don't deserve a post all of their own.

Garments: I didn't make much in the way of clothes this month. However, I did manage to knock out a couple of easy pattern repeats:

Burda 11-2005-127 and Ottobre 02-2013-02, both very easy pattern repeats

On the left, a pair of Burda 11-2005-127 yoga pants in blue, a pattern I made up previously in December 2014. I have nothing to say about the pattern beyond: A+, would sew again, just like last time. These are very unphotogenic yoga pants, though. They look much better in person.

On the right, yes, that is yet another Ottobre 02-2013-02 "Summer Basics" tee. That is my 11th use of that pattern. It wasn't my first choice for this fabric at all. I bought this border print as a "panel", and I had a plan in mind for it thinking I was getting a 1m piece. What actually arrived was a scant and badly cut 85cm piece. I was not thrilled, and I am still not clear to what extent this was as a result of me misunderstanding of the fabric description and how much is the fault of the vendor (the very uneven cut, at least, was entirely their fault). At any rate, my original plan was out, and as I was feeling grumpy about the whole thing I flung this pattern on it and cut it out as it was all I could think to do with such a small piece. I kind of regret this decision because once I got over my grump I realized it would have made an interesting contrast piece in a Grainline Linden sweatshirt or similar but, eh, too late now. As it turns out though, the biggest problem with this top is that the fabric is very itch inducing, so I'm not sure the way I used the fabric in the end matters when thinking about garment longevity -- I just can't stand itchy clothes.

My February garment sewing plans are a bit vague at the moment, even though I have a whole huge list of things to make in my sewing queue. The problem is that I find it hard to think about sewing for spring when we've actually got snow on the ground at the moment, but I really don't need much more in the way of winter clothes. Plus, quite a few of my favourite and most enticing projects are at the more difficult and labour intensive end of the scale, and thus the whole continuing-illness thing becomes a stumbling block. I'll have to see how I get on, I guess.

Quilted quilt blocks ready to be sewn together with sashing
Quilt: Since my mid-month update, I've been quilting the individual blocks in dribs and drabs and then trimming off the excess batting/backing. It's actually been a nice project while I've been feeling ill because it's a perfect project to sew in very short bursts. Each block only takes a couple of minutes to quilt and a couple of minutes to trim, and thus even if I only felt up to venturing into my sewing room for 10-15 minutes I was usually able to get a couple of blocks done in a day. I was also able to do a bunch of different shapes when I was quilting: some I stitched in the ditch, some have just lines across the block, and a half a dozen are quilted with big concentric circles. That said, I have to admit I was totally over the quilting process long before I'd done all 36 blocks and was glad when I finished them up. At this point, there are really only two more tasks left: putting the blocks together with sashing and then binding the outer edges. Thus, I'm hoping that the World's Slowest Quilt will become my first finished quilt during February.

Alabama Chanin style "Bloomer" stencil on knit, testing out different threads and stitches
Hand-sewing/embroidery: I'm still pursuing the Alabama Chanin and hand-embroidery thing. I decided a useful way to spend some time was to make some samples of AC-style embellishment using knits. I dug out a couple of large-ish scraps of knit in two shades of blue (left over from a raglan tee I made in October 2013) for which I had no other use, made a list of "samplers" I wanted to make, and got started. You can see my first finished sampler above, which was a test first and foremost of this method on knit (I had previously only used the stencils with wovens when I made a couple of little calico bags) and of some different weight and colour threads. It turned out very ugly as a result of the mix of thread colours! I'll be carrying on with my samplers for a little while, mainly because I'm still percolating a much bigger plan for where I want to take this next. More on this soon.

My Nurmilintu scarf. You'll have to take my word for the existence of the lace section, since I couldn't get it to come out in the photo
Knitting: This is my Nurmilintu scarf (Ravelry link) in progress - it's about 40% done, I guess. I'm really enjoying knitting this even though my first lace section, one of three in the pattern, turned out really badly. I was fine (as you would hope) on the long pointy bit of garter stitch, but as soon as I started out the lace section I had to rip back the first three rows 4 times. Mostly, this was because I didn't understand how to read the chart, which meant I got the pattern all wrong initially. After consulting a more knowledgeable friend, I at least understand now what I should be doing, although I don't always seem to manage to actually do it. As I got further into the lace pattern, I realized I had I made multiple mistakes in several rows that didn't seem fixable short of wholesale ripping back, which I kind of couldn't face. In the end, I decided I could live with my mistakes and kept going. Thus my first "lace pattern" section is perhaps more properly described as "a section with some randomly spaced holes". Still, I love the yarn, the colour and I've decided I can live with the imperfection, especially since, as the image above demonstrates, the lace isn't really all that visible. I am a pretty slow knitter, so I suspect most, if not all, of February will be taken up with finishing this project.

A pile of pompoms

Random: For sick-and-insomnia-ridden-and-in-charge-of-a-credit card reasons, I recently bought a 99p (with free postage) pack of pompom makers from an eBay vendor in China. Pompom makers + an assortment of cheap, nasty and brightly coloured yarn I once obtained from the front of a knitting magazine = one afternoon spent gleefully and pointlessly making pompoms. I made some in plain green (on the right, idk why they look like they're glowing) and then experimented with various ways to make them multicoloured (green and white halves on the left, and then mixing two or three colours in the rest). I like the giant pink and purple one (bottom left) best, though I have no idea what to do with any of them now I've made them.

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