Coming up for a breath!

I hope everyone is having a happy and relaxing holiday season! Things are going well here in Brooklyn, and I finally have enough space to breathe, and to post again. I’ve missed it.

I’ve been in an absolute rush all fall, between a full course load and finishing my MA thesis and a part-time assistantship (and the 12-hr/week commute doesn’t really help, though I read on the train). There just wasn’t much space for quilting, or for much of anything else, really: I sort of disappeared for a while there from all aspects of my life other than SCHOOL.

Thankfully the semester is now over, and all I have to do between now and January 13th is finish editing my MA thesis. (Hush, you. That totally counts as a vacation.)

I did manage to get some knitting done, because it’s more portable than quilting, and socks fit well in my bag for those times when I’m just too tired to read for school while I’m on the subway. I made these socks for my mother for Christmas:
Red socks for my mom

And since the semester has been over, I’ve been able to get a little more sewing in, which I’ll post about soon.

WiP Wednesday as the semester first kicks in

The fall semester has been kicking up into gear, so I’ve had less time to work on projects recently. It’s also influenced what I’ve been working on to a certain extent. That said, I’ve still gotten some things done!

I made three notebook covers for classes, following Rachel’s tutorial on Stitched in Color. I’m going to make one more in yellow and red, to match the Plantagenet colors, for my class on the Angevin Empire. And this time, I’ll (hopefully!) remember to add a pocket before I sew it all together!

HST BoM QAL: some progress! I made the second July block & and my first of two August blocks.
July-August HST BoM
-finish second August block (cut and partially pieced)
-fix botched May block already!
-start thinking about how to arrange the blocks & what to back the quilt with.

Knitting lots of progress!
-monkey socks in Persia (Malabrigo sock):
Malabrigo Monkey Socks
The more time I spend on the subway going to and from work/class, the more knitting I get done — I may have to take up hand-stitching things, if the majority of my crafting time continues to be on the subway.

Perk Me Up Bag: some progress.
I finished one side of the bag, which is a patchwork of the various fabrics, and I quilted it, because it’s a lot sturdier that way: I didn’t want to risk knitting needles poking their way through the bag and stabbing someone.
-iron interfacing to back of bag exterior and/or quilt it, too.
-attach pocket to back of bag exterior
-cut strap extender, strap and closure strap, attaching appropriate hardware
-sew lining together with internal zippered pocket in place
-attach lining to exterior pieces
-finish strap and etc.

Simple Math: trimmed a few more blocks!
-finish trimming blocks to 6″ square
-find sashing fabric
-baste, quilt & bind

Baby K’s Quilt: no progress since last week. This one is what’s laid out on my WiP cart right now, but I keep putting things on top of it — I should just get it done! There’s a bit left to work on.
-sew together two more postage stamp panels
-construct pinwheels
-lay out & attach borders
-construct backing
-baste, quilt & bind

Kitchen Window: no progress since last week.
-sort out cut fabrics into groups for individual blocks
-cut black fabric for frames
-cut green fabric for background parts
-start constructing blocks
-fiddle with layout
-make back
-baste, quilt & bind

Spinning: no progress since last week.
-Merino/yak continues to entice me, but I’m not watching much TV, so not much spinning is getting done. Perhaps I’ll watch a move with friends/family one night this week, to give myself some time off before things get crazy. That might be fun.

WIP Wednesday

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and to the Small Blog meet-up at Lily’s Quilts. If you’re stopping by for the first time, you might be interested in learning more about me, or in looking at my finished quilts. If you’re interested in any particular kind of project, check out the tags in the lower right sidebar.

This is a remarkably picture-poor post, largely because it’s a to-do-list of the various projects I have in progress right now. Never let it be said that I’m a monogamous crafter? Projects are arranged in (sort of) order of least-work-to-be-finished.

General To-Do List:
-Tape a large piece of batting up on the tops of my two really tall bookcases and pin things to it, in an attempt to create something that sort of resembles a design wall
-Clean crafting stuff off my desk so it’s actually usable for schoolwork.
-Likewise clear books out of crafting space so I can actually sew w/out moving piles of stuff.

Test-Drive Mabel Bag To-Do List:
-Be proud of inside pockets and the fact that the lining actually (mostly) fits inside the exterior of the bag.
-Attach strap and strap extender once bag hardware arrives in the mail
-Sew around the opening, matching lining to bag outsides
-Turn it inside out to end up rightside out & sew up lining bottom
-Iron (and maybe topstitch?) for a finished, professional look

Mini Dresden To-Do List:
-Back of mini Dresden quilt: alternating tumblers in a variety of fabrics across a brown background: figure out the right size of tumbler
-Finish the corner fans of the mini-Dresden quilt, and arrange so that they will look all right after binding
-Binding of mini Dresden quilt: probably in a darker brown, but possibly in a scrappy series of colors. I’m torn between wanting to make it more cheerful and wanting the focus really to snap to the middle medallions
-Quilt & appliqué!

Simple Math To-Do List:
-Finish trimming all blocks from 6-and-almost-a-half-ish-inches to 6″ square
-Re-jigger design to figure out yardage needed to make a double-bed quilt out of slightly smaller blocks
-Pick out sashing & binding fabric (next week, with L, hopefully!)
-Cut sashing
-Piece a scrappy border, alternating white and blue
-Piece entire top (ugh!)
-Figure out backing for the quilt (!?!?!)
-Sandwich, quilt, bind
-Give to mom on October 18

Kitchen Window To-Do List:
-Cut the black 1 1/2″ strips for the “frames”
-Order more Kelly green and cut green strips for “borders”
-Cut about a dozen more organizing cards, number all 36 of them from 1-36
-Start laying out all 36 blocks, figuring out which ones need to be oriented vertically and which horizontally
-Piece blocks
-Arrange blocks on (hopefully!) “design wall”
-Piece top & figure out backing and binding
-Baste, quilt, bind

Knitting To-Do List:
-Subway socks (Malabrigo Monkeys)
-Red NaNo Sweater started in *cough* 2010: finish arms, finish torso. Yes, it’s fiddly cables: suck it up and knit it already.
-Modern Baby Blanket: finish while watching Olympics. Hope I have enough yarn.
-Finish the legs of those red socks already. Give them to mom on October 18.

Spinning To-Do List:
-Get cracking on that yarn for mom’s sweater. Finish it up by December, for a Christmas present.
-Spin exclusively from stash: maybe some merino/yak? Or the lovely greens from MA Sheep&Wool.

Tuesdays are for knitting

I’m still working on the same sock, and it’s still a subway project! I’m using Happy Feet yarn on size 0 (2.0mm) needles.

I’m about halfway done with the first sock, and well into the part of a sock that is the least interesting to me: the endless march down the foot. Unlike the cuff, you don’t have turning the heel to look forward to, and the toe isn’t interesting enough to make me excited about getting to it.


Thankfully, the pattern for this sock is enough to keep me engaged. I altered it slightly to fit my larger-than-average feet.

This pattern, Monkey, calls for you to cast on only 64 stitches: 4×16 = 4 pattern repeats. Well, I happen to know that my feet and ankles (not to mention my very high arches and deep heels) just don’t fit into a 64-stitch sock, unless I knit it with thicker yarn on larger needles. And we’re not talking about a “slightly bulky” sock, here — we’re talking about slippers. So I had to find a way to expand the sock to make it fit, without making it look really odd.

I know that about 80 stitches makes a ribbed sock that fits me nicely, and that the Monkey pattern doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch to it: it’s knitted, so there’s some, and there are purl sections, which help, but it’s not super springy.

I considered adding a fifth repeat of the Monkey pattern, to put me at exactly 80 stitches, but that would get awkward when it came time to do the heel and would be difficult to space out over the top of the sock when the time came for the foot: two and a half repeats? Three repeats? It didn’t seem like a great plan.

So instead I cast on an extra ten stitches, and knit p2, k2, p2, k2, p2 ribbing between the first and fourth repeats of the pattern, along the back of the leg.

If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have added fourteen stitches, because while this sock fits, it’s snug, and it’s a near thing: any smaller, and I wouldn’t exactly be eager to wear it. As it is, it fits, though getting it up over my heels can be a bit of an endeavor.

In any case, it’s certainly better than my worst sock ever. In college, I went through a phase of knitting on VERY SMALL NEEDLES. Let’s just say that if you knit a sock on 000 needles, with a normal sock yarn, and you pull the yarn as tight as I do? Well, I could wear it and have one very bullet-proof foot. It is SO uncomfortable, it lives in the back of a drawer and gets used to clean dust from my computer screen and that’s about it.

What about your disasters? Any funny mistakes that you look back on now and laugh?

Tuesdays are for knitting

Given my schedule this summer — which is class & work on Mondays and Wednesdays — I get a lot of knitting done on Mondays and Wednesdays. Wait, you might say, didn’t you just say you’re busy those days? Yes! But I also have an hour-and-a-half commute each way from home to school/work, and I tend to knit on the subway.

Last week, I finished these socks, which are a simple toe-up 2×2 rib.

The yarn is Claudia Hand-Paint, which I love for its sproing. It just squishes so nicely once it’s knit up: there’s so much life to the yarn! The colors are fabulous, too, which doesn’t hurt.

I don’t particularly love knitting toe up socks — I don’t hate it, but it’s not my default sock pattern — but this yarn comes in such small skeins that I feel like I have to do it toe-up to be sure I make the most of it. I do, after all, have pretty big feet (~size 10 US, which is British 7.5/8 and European 41/42). The only thing worse than making socks for me is making socks for the rest of my family — my sister’s feet are larger than mine, and my father’s feet are 12″ long. That’s a LOT of foot! These socks look longer off the foot than they do on:

Having finished those, and woven the ends in on Sunday, Monday I started a new pair! These are Plymouth Happy Feet yarn, which I’ve never knit with before.

The yardage on the Happy Feet is only about 192 yards, which may sound like a lot — but remember, big-footed family. My default assumption for a pair of socks is that it will take about 200 yards of yarn. So it was a bit of a surprise when I decided that, no, I wouldn’t be knitting these socks toe-up — I’d be knitting a pair of Monkey Socks from the cuff down, and if I have to add in a different-colored toe, I’ll add on a different-colored toe.

Conferencing is tiring!

Things have been quiet because I’ve spent the last four days at the RBMS pre-conference, which is the annual conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association. (I’m in grad school for medieval history right now, but I just finished library school, and I want to be a librarian, not a professor.)

There were panels and discussions and round-tables and plenary sessions and a technology petting zoo and a booksellers’ display and receptions and time to go out for lunch and dinner with colleagues, and almost 400 other people who think that rare books and special collections libraries and materials are the best thing ever. It was a blast.

I noticed one or two other people knitting, but mine never made its way out of the hotel room: there was just too much going on!

Now that I’m waiting in the airport, I’m knitting armwarmers for a friend. When I finish those (and I will) I’ll go back to a second sock for myself. Both projects were selected on the basis of being very small and portable, and easy enough to knit on a plane without needing a pattern.

What kinds of projects do you bring with you when you travel?