All the HSTs and a new WIP

It’s been all HSTs for the chuppah all the time around here. It’s been slow going with the trimming but finally I finished yesterday. Tonight, I’m going to start sewing the top (and perhaps try to chain piece the entire top similar to this method illustrated by Stitches in Play).

HSTs

Backing fabric for the chuppah is ordered and ready to go and the wedding is less than two months away. I think all my ducks are in a row!

I also started work on a new, exhausting WIP a couple of months ago. Here’s a progress pic after 12 weeks of work:

12 weeks ultrasound

I’m hoping to be done around the end of September. Expect an uptick in tiny knit sweaters in the coming months!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Getting Back To It

Well, hello there, unintentional month-and-a-half blogging hiatus. February was rough, yo. I think I was sick for the last month and a half, which isn’t pleasant in the best of weather. But here north of Boston, we have many feet of snow, which has pulverized our public transportation system (aka how I get to work every day). Not feeling well + commuting for several hours a day on crowded trains with cranky fellow commuters has left me very tired at the end of the day, so much so that crafting hasn’t been my number one priority.

To be completely honest, most nights I watch Jeopardy and then go to bed.

I did spin a little, turning this delicious Malabrigo Nube braid into 324 sproingy yards of delicious sport-weight yarn.

Malabrigo Nube

Malabrigo Nube

The braid itself wasn’t the easiest spin. The fibers seemed very compacted, so it was difficult to pull apart and each piece needed to be fluffed a bit before spinning. I was going for a slightly thicker spin (than my usual super thin) and I’m very happy with the finished product.

Malabrigo Nube

But! It is now March! We’ve gotten through yet another February and Spring, the most wonderful season, approaches! Already the light is returning and days are noticeably longer. Now for temperatures to rise above freezing and the snow to melt (also, for the storm scheduled to dump more snow on us tonight to not dump as much snow as predicted).

And it being March means that the wedding of my dear friend S is a little over two months away, so I better bust a move on the HST Chuppah. Today, I sewed all the HSTs and started trimming.

Stack o' HSTs

Stack o' HSTs

I’d really like to finish this top by the end of the month, so for a bit of motivation, I’m making this my March ALOYF goal.

Progress…?

Here’s the thing about knitting. It’s great for the knitter/blogger and less interesting for the reader. I’ve been knitting like a beast over the past few days. I churned out the first sweater sleeve over the weekend (hello, football games) and am making strides down the second one. The front and back are done. I may have a sweater sometime while it is still winter.

All this is super exciting for me but less exciting for you, because the sweater currently looks like this.

Sweater pieces

Oh yeah. Super interesting, right? A bunch of teal knit tubes.

The chuppah isn’t much better. Right now, it looks like this:

Chuppah "progress"

But they’re both coming along and soon, I’ll have actual items to show. And they’re both WIPs, so I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Winter Goals

The start of 2015 brings a new year of the Finish Along, this year sponsored by Adrianne at On the Windy Side. I enjoyed participating last year, as I felt like I got things done faster with self-imposed deadlines. Also, I like the possibility of prizes because who doesn’t? In any case, here are my goals for Q1:

1. Rainbow Meadow: After changing plans, I’ve cut all the fabric but haven’t completed any sewing yet.
Meadow planning

2. Green HST Chuppah
Fabric for HST Chuppah

3. Metro Medallion: the top is done but I need to sort out a back, quilt, and bind.
Metro Medallion top

4. Scoop Neck Pullover: I’ve knit the front, back, one sleeve, and a bit of the second sleeve.

5. Jeweled cowl: It’s probably 75% knit and I’m puttering away on it.

Yup, those last two are knitting projects. I’d like to finish both while it’s still winter and there’s a need for woolens. Today is 16 degrees F and dropping. So: woolens and quilts are necessary!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Chuppah Plans

My best friend Steph is getting married in May. She and her fiancee are Jewish and will be getting married under a chuppah, which she asked me to make. After the wedding, I’ll turn the chuppah into a quilt They’re getting married at an arboretum and both favor greens, so I’m using a Kona Solid Fat Quarter Bundle in Farmer’s Market with 23 green FQs and they’d like a modern half square triangle (HST) similar to Shards by A Cuppa and a Catch Up. They’d like the finished chuppah to be around 6′ square.

Since I don’t think a heavy quilt might not be the most ideal chuppah, I’m planning on sewing a plain, solid back and then doing some minimal straight-line quilting to keep the two layers together for the wedding. I’ll use my old machine for this, as unpicking the quilting will be REALLY easy, as after the wedding, I’ll add a border, batting, and a fun back to make it queen sized.

Fabric for HST Chuppah

And now some math.
I’ve decided the finished chuppah will be 75″ x 75″. If I aim for a 5″ finished HST (5 1/2″ with seam allowance), that will be 15 x 15 HSTs for a total number of 225 HSTs.

If I need each HST to be 5 1/2″ finished, the original square has to be 6 3/8″ (I’m using this HST tutorial from Blossom Heart Quilts). I can get 9 squares this size from a FQ (with judicious cutting and piecing), which means I need 25 FQs. I’ll use the 23 from the bundle and add a grey or brown neutral and another solid (Kona Aloe or Cadet) from my stash.
Math over.

So this plan is all well and good until I started cutting. I can easily get eight squares from a FQ with minimal piecing. But that ninth square requires the selvage bits to be sewn to one end to make it incrementally longer.

Stretch that fabric

I keep telling myself that it will add a bit of texture to the top.

Here’s two untrimmed HSTs. The one with the pieced side will be 5 1/2″ when trimmed, but barely. And a couple scraps for other colors aren’t big enough to piece, so I’ll have to swap them for Cadet or Aloe.

HSTs

I’d like to finish the chuppah by the end of the month (I think it would ease the brides’ minds knowing that their chuppah is done!), so I’m making this my ALOYF Jan 2015 goal. Boom.

My Button

2014 in Review

2014 was indeed a great year for making things!  I feel like I learned some great skills including sewing curves and improved FMQ technique. I participated in A Lovely Year of Finishes for several months; here’s a list of the goals accomplished this year:

2014  Mosaic

March: Quilt of Neptune
April: Spring Stripes II
May: Fortunate Granny
June: Fields of Foxes
July: Metro Rings I top
August: Finishing Metro Rings I
October: Aeroplane Bag
December: Metro Rings II
(Also pictured is Gathering Flowers because I’m proud of it and needed an 8th photo for the mosaic)

I’m linking up with the 2014 ALOYF Finish Party.

In addition to the above, I also finished three of my six (admittedly lofty) Q4 Finish Along goals: the Aeroplane Bag and Metro Rings II above, as well as four Geranium dresses.

Here’s to much more sewing in 2014!
My Button2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Meadow Thoughts

Now that I’m finished with Christmas projects, it is time to break out my Meadow pile. I did a lot of thinking over the last few months and the melon fabric (Lizzy House Jewel in Clementine) I was going to use for the background is too bright. Instead, I’m using the lovely soft grey Cat Mint print from Cat Nap for the background, and swapping out green flower centers for grey blue.

Meadow Block

I think these color choices will make the rainbow gradient pop! Last night, I cut all the rainbow pieces; I still need to cut the petals and the flower centers and then sewing can commence!

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2015 is filled with light, love, and good things.

Sweet Red Bunting

First Christmas project finished, first gifted, second blogged about. Or something? In any case: Sweet Red Bunting is finished!

Sweet Red Bunting

I’ve had my eye on this little cardigan for a while, perhaps even before there was a sweet niece in existence. And it’s been so long since I’ve finished a knit project with a modicum of success. Like most of my knit projects lately, this one has had some ups and downs. Back in September, I CO using a completely different yarn – the lovely Dirty Water Dyeworks Bertha (hello 10% cashmere, I do love you). The swatch was just lovely and would also probably felt in a hot second when exposed to an infant. So Bertha is destined to be a Lucy sweater, not a niece sweater. WEBS provided a much more sensible niece sweater yarn (Berocco Comfort DK, machine wash and dry!) and I cast on on December 6th.

Sweet Red Bunting

All was gravy until I hit the bunting section. I’ve knit colorwork in the round before using the two-handed stranding technique, which works fine for knitting, but Sweet Bunting is knit flat. This means that at the end of the row, the work is turned and I had to purl back. Which required learning two new skills: two-handed purling and learning to purl Continental (I knit English).

Let’s just say that I was very, very dubious that the stranded section had the necessary stretch to fit. And then the shoulder portion looked far too long in my eyes. I tried to trust the pattern and I tried to remember that blocking cures a multitude of sins, but I still had many doubts.

Sweet Red Bunting

But it fit! And I consider this fact to be this year’s second Christmas miracle.

A Christmas Quilting Miracle

It’s a Christmas Quilting Miracle, you guys. Huge Secret Project (aka Metro Rings II – yes, I did make another one!) is finished. I’m still not exactly sure how. I remember quilting the first one, which took a literal month. And this one was quilted in a matter of days and finished on Christmas Eve.

Metro Rings II

Let’s back up a bit. I’ve wanted to make my parents a quilt for a while now. It was their 40th anniversary in September, and while my ducks weren’t in a row enough to make it then, I wanted to make something for Christmas.

Metro Rings II

There’s 35 different fabrics in the ring segments in shades of blue, green, and indigo with a few pops of red and orange and gold. My parents like to hike and birdwatch together, so I used a lot of botanical and bird prints. All of the fabric for the top came from my stash and I used several favorites (hello Tula Pink!).

Metro Rings II

I quilted parallel lines within the rings and almond sections but left out the FMQ. The large white segments within the rings have some petals and a little star in the middle.

Metro Rings II

The binding is Netorious from Cotton + Steel and the backing (not pictured, as it was raining) is a super wide purple, blue, and teal batik.

We opened presents with my parents last night and my mom cried when she opened this one. I’m glad she likes it, and I’m glad I finished it and didn’t have to gift it with pins in.

Metro Rings II

Finishing Metro Rings II was my December ALOYF goal and one of my Finish Along Q4 goals- hooray! It is done!

Here’s hoping you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season filled with light and love. I know I sure am!

Books and Cookies

Nine days until Christmas. The giftmaking is coming along swimmingly with only a little fear that I’ll be wrapping something with needles still in. Since I don’t have any photos to show, I’ve decided to share an old family cookie recipe with you.

Growing up, my family had a small celebration on Czech Saint Nicholas day, Mikuláš (pronounced “MIK-a-losh”). Grandma would often send a big box of homemade treats, including rolacky nut horns, kolacky (puff pastry with a dollop of fruit), houska (sweet yeast bread sort of like challah), nuts, and fruit. I was thinking about Grandma’s cookie boxes recently, and decided to make kolacky for my company’s cookie swap! Here’s the recipe, in case you want to try something that tastes like my childhood.

Kolacky

Great-Grandmother’s Easy Kolacky (KO-latch-key, makes about 3 dozen, depending on cookie size)
Ingredients:
1 package rapid-rise yeast
4 tbsp sour cream
1 egg yolk

2 cups flour
½ lb butter (2 sticks)
¼ tsp salt

1 can Solo fruit filling (prune or apricot are suggested. Solo fruit filling is found in the Baking Needs aisle of the grocery store, usually on the bottom shelf and possibly a little dusty. Grandma also would send poppy seed and cheese; I never liked poppy seed and didn’t remember cheese until my mom triggered my memory)

Powdered sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sour cream, and egg yolk until combined.

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, butter, and salt until combined. Alternatively, you could use a pastry cutter or a knife and chop until combined. If using a food processor, pour the butter/flour mixture into a big bowl. Add the yeast and sour cream and mix with your hands until you have a shaggy dough and all flour is incorporated. The mixture can be refrigerated for an hour if it gets sticky.

Roll dough out onto a well-floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Use a 1-2 inch glass to cut round cookies of dough and place on cookie sheet. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, make an indent in the center of each cookie. Scoop a little fruit filling into the indent (½ to 1 tsp, depending on how big cookies you cut) and smear the filling a little.

Bake at 375 for 12 minutes; cookies will be a little golden brown on the bottom and will have poofed up a bit. Dust liberally with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Kolacky

I’ve also been reading a bunch while on the T (and getting really good at reading while standing on a moving train) and here’s my stack:

Book stack

It’s nice to have time each day to read a little bit!