Sunday, May 08, 2011

Knitted Kitchen Scrubbies

I've been alternating my intense piece-work with mindless knitting.

Take one ball of cotton yarn, Sugar 'n' Cream works well
One leftover plastic produce bag like the kind oranges come in
and a pair of size 10 knitting needles.

These take about a half an hour each and that includes cutting the plastic into strips and tying the ends together to make 'plarn', plastic yarn. I made four as samples for the ladies at work that were going to help demonstrate ways to reduce and reuse plastic bags by making plarn and knitting or crocheting with it. This is my own pattern but there are lots of ideas for creating with recycled plastic at My Recycled Thank you Cindy!

Go With What You Know

It's important to listen to the fabrics when they try to tell you what works well together and what doesn't. I've pulled fabrics from my stash for this quilt three different times, grouping and regrouping; which way do I really want to go? If I don't know where I'm going, it's really unlikely I'll get there.

So I went back to my Dating Fabric book and decided - to heck with the current interest in reproducing Civil War quilts. I don't actually LIKE the fabrics or the combinations; so why put myself through this? I decided to move the palette to the Turn of the Last Century, 1890-1910. Now I feel like I know what I'm doing!

I also decided it would be worth while to really lay out each block in Electric Quilt so I could see what it looked like before spending the time piecing! A few hours scanning the actually fabrics I wanted to use and laying out the block in EQ was much less time consuming then weeks of cutting and piecing.

I have one arm of the new third block pieced. I wonder sometimes how women of by-gone eras made such stunning quilts with so few tools. Maybe I just try too hard. I remind myself I do this for fun. ;)

Lone Star Color Choices

I've been plunking along on the Lone Star blocks. After the quilt retreat in March I finished the blue variegated star and felt really good. I selected colors for the next block and dove in. Each block is 20" so I sorta feel like I'm making blocks big enough for a wall hanging, I feel like I'm making 20, 20" quilts!

These fabrics were chosen to be more like the circa 1860 fabric palette I think I'm working with. I didn't feel real confident about the combination, but cut and pieced anyway, figuring the color scheme would emerge as I went along. I liked the burnt orange, navy and red, but the brown and poison green were a challenge to use.

With this method of making a Lone Star you have to do a lot of piecing before you see what the first arm of the star's going to look like it. Meh - but still I pieced.

At this point I could now see the flow of colors around the star and where the drop outs were. I made myself continue to piece arms, hoping it would grow on me. When the kids came up for the weekend, they looked at it and gave their perspective. None of us liked the brown, it was muddy, dropped out and made the colors on either side of it look crummy. We had a long conversation about what works in the other stars and where I wanted to go from here. Nathan summed it up, "I understand you want to challenge yourself to work in a color palette that's unfamiliar to you, but do you want a quilt when you're done, or another UFO?" Frank said, "I hate to see you work so hard at it and not enjoy the outcome. You'll probably only make this quilt once, wouldn't you rather love it when you're done?"

Yes. I packed these pieces away. Lesson learned, go with your gut.

More About Yarn

I've been having a lot of fun with the yards and yards and YARDS of reclaimed yarn from that sweater I bought. I've skeined it all and given it a warm bath to help it relax.

Then I took it to the LYS and learned to use the umbrella swift and ball winder. That was fun, something new! I made a couple of comments about how very right handed the swift and ball winder set-up were, but the right-handed shop clerks just looked at me. They asked me if I'd spun it myself, "No, do you think it's hand spun?" They each looked at it and agreed it didn't look like a commercially produced yarn, there's too much variation in the strand. That was fun information.

I've knit about three inches in the sweater pattern, stopping occasionally to remove an especially thin length of the yarn and splice it together again. It slows the knitting down, but I think I have more than enough for this pullover, so it feels okay to do that.

Note: I was going happily along until I went to the LYS's knit night and saw all the wonderful, *soft*, cashmerino type sweaters that were being shared during show and tell. The handspun feels very wooly and not particularly soft. Right now I don't feel like continuing. :( I'll have to sit with it and see how I feel.

Local Color

One day in early April, Frank went out to call the cats in for the day. We have neighborhood dogs that aren't always leashed, so we do what we can to keep Lila and Spunky safe. This is what he found in our back pen near the compost.

It would've been fun if he'd fanned for the camera, but maybe he was feeling shy. Now I think I know who's been getting into the compost and making a snack out of it!

Stained Glass Sweatshirt

This workshop was in March and is a pattern one of the guild ladies created. If you're in the Ladies of the Lake quilt guild long enough, you'll eventually make one of these it seems. They're easy and fun but look so elegant.

The instructions tell you to find the center of a cotton sweatshirt, cut it open, reinforce the fabric to reduce stretch and then sew a strip of cotton dress weight fabric ten inches wide to the outside. Then you turn it to the inside like a facing.

Next you pin a strip of quilt border paper to the outside and sew on all the lines.

When you cut out the shapes, leaving a little fabric around each quilt line, you have a stained glass look design on the front of your sweatshirt.

The variety of colors and combinations is wonderful!