Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Knit Knightmare

Quilting and needle work are my truest crafty love. But once upon a time, it was all about the needles - knitting needles, that is.

After a few short instructions from a local knitting shop coming on 40 years ago, I taught myself to knit. For many years, I kept all kinds of knitted items--mostly sweaters--on my needles at all times. Like any good crafter, I was always thinking ahead to the next project or two, purchasing and storing yarn for its turn.

When quilting came along, my knitting interests turned to more portable sock-making projects. That means that some of those stored yarns for future projects landed on the dreaded shelves in my storage spaces.

Quilters: Think "UFOs."

So a few weeks ago, just before I headed out for the quilt cruise, I received an email from Purl Soho with a pattern for a knitted shawl.

I needed a travel project, and I immediately thought of these giant skeins of yarn that have been 'temporarily' gracing a prominent shelf in my master bedroom closet since the day we moved in (the house was completed in 2000).

I grabbed the appropriate needles from my stash and a skein of the cream color and got to work.

As an experienced knitter, I'm pretty familiar with lots of different stitches--complex fisherman knit sweaters were among my favorites back in the day. But I never really experimented with the various stitches--like this honeycomb cable--without something else to start it off, like a rib. If you're a knitter, you'll understand, quilters, maybe not (after all, this is a quilting newsletter). I mean, knitters know that there are some stitch patterns that are meant to be used in combination with other stitch patterns to keep them flat.

Some patterns curl, irreparably without their tempering counterparts.

In the photo below, do you see what I see? That curl at the bottom materialized right from the first few rows. . . But I kept going, surely it'll 'press out'--this part should sound familiar to quilters and knitters alike - it's kinda like making a cardinal sin in the quilt piecing and hope that 'it'll quilt out' knowing full well that the rumple will be there no matter how much thread painting layers are applied!

I couldn't bear to rip it all out.

So I tried a different tactic. I grabbed another skein of yarn. In a slightly different color and started anew, this time I started with about 1" of rib. Then the honey comb.


Not enough rib, apparently.


Let's try 2" of rib. Honey comb. Curl. Rip.

How about a different pattern (I was beginning to think all those pretty photos in the pattern were some sort of evil photoshop trick).

The Trinity stitch doesn't have any cables, but it's a lot of knit three togethers and knitting and purling in the same stitch across 170 stitches. A little tedious but it has really nice bumpy texture.

I should add--for none of these attempts did I start with a smaller swatch to test the curl/no curl issue.

The trinity stitch seemed to be the answer! It was perfectly flat, and I was on a roll. I finished up a skein of yarn, and went to get another from that shelf stash.

Guess what?

Yep. I only had ONE giant skein of that color. At first I thought I just had a different die lot. Nope. Three skeins of cream (that's what I used on the honey comb), One skein of this natural stuff. And 8 skeins of wheat. These last two look similar, but they really are two different colors.

Not the look I was going for (a color switch about 12 inches in).

I've got maybe 30" of knitting between these two failed projects (for a wrap that will ultimately be about 60-80" long) and I'm starting over. . . .AGAIN!

This time, I took up the wheat color.

And a new pattern, a really soft and squishy fisherman rib (purl, then knit in the stitch below - same pattern both sides).

HOWEVER, my first attempt started with a plain rib, then a switch to the fisherman's rib. 



Start over.

I think I may finally be on the right track. (Don't sneeze!)

And this pattern isn't tedious at all, it's rather soothing to make, in fact.

From the chair opposite me across the family room, my husband has mainly kept quiet these last few weeks as yarn keeps going in and out of projects.

Smart man.

I don't want to think about how many quilting stitches I could have made while I was attempting to make/start this shawl.

How much you wanna bet the thing doesn't fit (yes, it's a one-size-fits-all kinda project) whenever I finally get it done.

And the honey comb curl thing. Maybe that'll become an infinity shawl. . .Is that even a thing?

Shaking my head! Does this happen to you, or am I the only one having knit knightmares?

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Week Aweigh

I've been away on a quilt cruise for the last week or so. With so many good memories, it's really difficult to sort through tons and tons of photos. I've tried to capture the essence of the trip for you. The introductory text is brief to make this post a quick and (hopefully) enjoyable read.

For starters, I left Syracuse a day early ahead of our Saturday cruise departure. I planned it that way far in advance, just in case Syracuse (which is known for annual snowfall levels of 100" or more) experienced a weather event in early March. Turns out, this was a good plan, as a Nor'easter took hold of much of the East Coast (US) on what could have been my travel day on Friday, causing travel delays and headaches!

To make good use of the extra day in Miami, I joined a few of the other sea-going quilters for a visit to the Miami Sequarium. Such fun!

Dolphin, sea lion, and orca shows were quite entertaining. In one section of the park, I had a chat with several macaws and parrots (including the African Gray, below). When given the choice, I'll always choose 'the Highway' (below)--the Hummingbird Highway, that is. . . wouldn't you?

On Saturday morning, we were able to board the ship and say good bye, for now, to beautiful Miami. Look at those lovely yachts! (below). Time for our first of many delicious meals on board, along with a frozen mojito! (below)

Finally. .  . the big reveal of our on-board quilt project. Water Logged (right) is a generous fat-quarter friendly quilt. The project is inspired by classic log-cabin-style blocks which benefits from all four, but especially two of the BlocLoc log cabin rulers.

Everyone on the cruise received, as part of their quilt package, a pre-cut kit. The pieces were purposely cut over sized, so the BlocLoc tools could be used to trim each round to perfection.

We had forty-two very enthusiastic quilters anxious to get started sewing during our first two days at sea.

Our ship, the Celebrity Equinox (below) finally was able to dock at St. Maarten (carved map in the street pavement, below center). Along with a few others from our group, I took a tour of several art galleries on the island of St. Maarten. Ruby (below) tells of her life as an artist on the island.

Our next stop, was St. Kitts. Our group of quilters was split in three to visit Caribelle Batiks on the lush and beautiful Romney estate (right). We got to sample first-hand how batiks are printed.

Using metal stamps and hot wax, the fabric starts out white, the stamps, dipped in hot wax protect the fabrics from the dye in a wax-resist process.

The white fabric with waxed shapes is then dipped in dye, then rinsed in cold water, waxed and dipped again to add to the colors. Once the fabric is dyed the final color, it's placed in boiling water to remove the wax.

Once we got the introduction, we made our very own batik print! Elma applies the wax with a butterfly stamp (below). The group in a room below takes a break from stamping for a cheesy photo (below).

Mary (below) in a different room dyes our waxed fabric a bright orange color. Back inside the main building, we can observe the fabric artists creating larger pieces of waxed, then dyed examples (below). And of course, like any good tour, there was an opportunity to purchase some hand-painted batiks to take home (and we did!)

Both St. Kitts and St. Maarten are such beautiful islands! One of the main streets at the pier in St. Kitts is lined with sunshine and palm trees (below). So nice to see brightly colored flowers again (below).

Time to leave beautiful St. Kitts in the early evening (below) and get back to our project. Murray, one of the quilter spouses sports his new Caribelle Batik tie for dinner (below)!

Back on board in our beautiful classroom for the last few days at sea. You could find all the essentials at each work station: fabric, pattern, blocks in various stages of completion, and maybe a little caffeine (below). On the upper deck you could join Corning Museum of Glass to make a blown glass tumbler or a variety of other items, just like in Corning, NY! (below)

 . . . And did I mention the food?! Delicious meals and desserts each day (below)!

I've said this before and I'll say it again. . . Any time quilters get together--at a retreat, on a cruise, or for an event or show--it's not just about all the food, the tours, and the project. It's about the memories, the mementos, and the laughs that you take with you after the event is over!

It's not about the quilt. . . it's about the people you meet along the way to making the quilt!

Wanna come along on the next cruise? Start saving your pennies now!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

St. Patrick's Redux

Please forgive me if this Shamrock Table Runner looks familiar - if you've been around for a year or more, it should! By the time you get this note, I should be waiting for my plane to board! I'm headed to Miami to spend a week on a big boat in the Caribbean with lots of quilters!

As I'm writing (it's actually still Wednesday) my mind keeps wandering to the things I still have to do and still have to pack, and not too very much on this week's message. . .

Therefore, I thought this festive, seasonal project (it's a free tutorial and includes a bonus place mat pattern!) is worth revisiting! And it's a great use of some green scraps along with a bit o' lucky stash fabric.

  1. If you don't already have it, grab the pattern and the complete tutorial over on the BERNINA blog.
  2. If you already have it, dig it out and get sewing in time for Corned Beef and Cabbage festivities on March 17th.
  3. If you already have it and you've already made it, why not make another? It's pretty fun and pretty fast to make!
  4. Or if you already have the pattern, but can't find it (man-o-man, I've been there!) revisit step 1.

In any case, enjoy it!

As for me, back to packing!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford