Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rainbows in Juneau

It's been over a year and half since I last blogged...yikes! I honestly have a good excuse - my family moved from Southaven, Mississippi to Juneau, Alaska in June 2013 so that I could take a job as the Executive Director of the Shrine of St. Therese (short version - I run a Catholic Shrine).

The first year in Juneau was good, but stressful: new town, new job for my husband, I went back to work, our son started preschool, we needed to make new friends, and many other things like being at least 3500 miles from family. All that adjusting to our new surroundings was worth it. We love it here, in fact, we love it so much we decided to buy a condo just around the time when our life was finding it's new rhythm. And now...I think (knock on wood) we have found the new rhythm.  

I managed to eek out a couple of small knitting projects in the last year: a new hat for my son and a matching one for me. I started several projects that all stalled due to not having the time to get them done. Now, if I spin that in a positive light, that means I could have several Finished Objects if I set my mind to it which brings me to the item of this post...

For several months I was working on a quilt for my son. I would plan to devote the weekend to it and then something would happen: getting sick, needing to work, or the sun decided to come out in this rainforest we call home which means we put on hiking boots and hit the trails! This past weekend I was done looking at my son's quilt heaped on my craft table, hogging most of the space, it was time to finish the darn thing.

It was my first queen size quilt and I did the whole thing on my regular sewing machine. As in the past, a Craftsy course really helped me through: Quilting BIG projects on a small machine.  I didn't get to quilt the layers quite as I had planned, but I improvised and it turned out great. Around 9:30 pm Saturday night I found myself thinking, "I am so done with this project! Why the heck did I choose this crazy fabric? This thing is ugly, how did I ever like it?" That's my typical internal response after working on a project for so long and I was hoping it would be gone come morning.

When I finally finished around 10:15 pm, I set the quilt over the couch, cleaned up my desk and went to bed. After a good night sleep, I walked into the living room and discovered that I didn't like the quilt - I loved it! My son is almost 5 years old and he loves bright colors which is hard to find for a boy. This week he especially loves the blocks of the quilt that have arrows, we'll see what next week brings. He was so excited to go to bed on Sunday night so he could snuggle with his new quilt. He even has plans for me to make a mini quilt with the scraps leftover for his stuffed animals.

Today was a typical fall day in Juneau; it rained most of the day. However, the rain was broken up by huge, distinct rainbows - kinda like the colors of this quilt.  

The Details:
Mixed Bag by Moda - 2 Layer Cakes 
and 1 yard of 5 other fabrics from Joann to make sure I had enough squares
Backed with fabric from Joann - two shades of blue (dark center with aqua border)
I used yellow variegated thread on top and blue variegated thread on bottom by Guterman.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I've been busy with getting some knitting projects organized and doing a tiny bit of sewing. Next week my hubby is on Spring Break so I will be sewing up a storm. In the midst of all this I did manage to finish another piece: Clarus by Laura Nelkin.

I used Melody by Jojoland. At first I wasn't sure if I liked the variegated yarn with the lace pattern. The one thing you don't want to have in knitting lace is a fight: you don't want your lace pattern and your yarn to fight each other.

The other thing about lace is that it's hard to really get a good idea of what it looks like until it's blocked. While it was on the needles I wasn't a big fan (see above), but once I blocked it I really liked it; the yarn didn't fight with the lace pattern. It's hard to see all the detail on the lovely blue and green kid mats, but there is a lighter blue stipe just before the edging. I was worried about a section or two really standing out, but I love it.

I am now officially addicted to lace and shawls. For nearly 3 years I've lived in the South and lamented that I couldn't knit sweaters and wool hats, mainly because they would only be worn a couple times a year. However, a lace wrap can be worn all year round to protect against the chill of winter and against the arctic chill of air conditioning. I've found my new knitting obsession!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Knitting with beads...and some lace

If you're looking for a way to make your handknits blingy-er, try beads. Before these two projects I had knitted with beads to make a few pairs of pulsevante - Norwegian for pulse warmers. They're like long wrist bands that cover the pulse point in your wrist and lower part of your hand.

I learned about them while in Norway in 2007 for my friend's wedding. The night before her wedding there was a party that started with a boat cruise. The temperature dropped pretty quickly and I didn't have gloves with me. My friend's cousin plucked a pair of pulsevante out of her pocket and handed them to me. Turns out her mom had knit them for her. I was utterly amazed at how simple and chic they were. I started asking her all kinds of questions about construction and patterns. When the cruise ended and we arrived at the party I returned the pulsevante. My new friend told me to keep them because she had talked to her mom about my interest in them. Her mom had promised to make her a new pair so I could take a pair home with me.

At that time there were not many patterns in English for pulse warmers, so I took a snowflake design from a traditional Norwegian pattern and made pulse warmers. I didn't know how to knit with beads, so I guessed at how to do it by trial and error. They turned out great and I gave them to a few friends as Christmas presents.

After the Skywalker shawl turned out so well I thought I'd check out Laura Nelkin's Knitting with Beads class at Craftsy. The first project is a knitted bracelet, Pioneer. It's a great first project to get the hang of knitting with beads that are strung on beforehand and beads that are placed over stitches as you go. Can you say super simple and quick gift?

Pioneer in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Fingering Weight, Graphite w/ Toho size 6 and 8 seed beads

The knitted jewelry got me thinking about my nieces - 3 of whom live in Houston and have very little need for wool hats or mittens. I decided to check out the jewelry...I'm slightly obsessed with Laura Nelkin's designs right now so I purchased Adorn and Adorn Anew

Ribband in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Fingering Weight, Graphite w/ rectangular Toho beads

I'm thinking my nieces will each be receiving a Ribband for Christmas this year. And, since I was very silly and took on WAY TOO MUCH this past December, I'm going to work on their Christmas presents throughout the year. I'll probably have them completed before summer gets to the Mid-South!

And finally, I continued the Knit This: Mastering Lace Shawls class by casting on Clarus. Originally I was going to cast on for the larger version in a cobweb weight yarn, however, I'm still not feeling like a Lace Master. I cast on Jojoland Melody (fingering weight superwash wool). Not sure how I like the color changes with the lace pattern, but it's hard to tell until it's blocked. Even if I don't like it, it's extra practice at knitting lace. I'll post photos when it's completed.

Clarus in Jojoland Melody

Monday, February 4, 2013

When good lace goes bad

Over the weekend I finished the full version of Skywalker by Laura Nelkin. I finished on Saturday night, blocked it on Sunday, and was ready to wear it today.

Skywalker off the needles

Skywalker chillin' (aka blocking) on Sunday afternoon

I was very excited to show off my first lace project in nearly 6 years. And then...something horrible happened...As I was getting all the necessary items prepared which a Mommy and son need on a morning of errands, I snagged the lace. I mean a HUGE snag. I managed to pull about an 8 inch loop out which really is 16 inches of yarn.



The culprit of this horrible crime - my catch-all bag which carries all things toddler has a shoulder "grabber" with teeth and as I ran down the stairs it pulled the yarn right out of the Plasma Stitch section.

My son took a nap this afternoon (praise God) and I busted out my tapestry needle and began the task of slowly working yarn back into place. Think of it like loosening shoelaces, if your laces are really tight, you can't start pulling at the bottom. I gently worked the yarn in both directions of the wicked snag. It took about half an hour, but it was worth being patient.

While the yarn was redistributed, it still didn't look quite right. I laid the lace out on a blocking mat, grabbed my spray bottle, and soaked the area that needed to be re-blocked. Once it was damp it looked right again and then I let it dry.

Skywalker after Lace Surgery or chillin' part deux

All better!

***Important lessons***
1.) Don't put a grabby thing on lace.
2.) If there is not a wild animal chasing you or your child is not in mortal danger, then there is no good reason to run, especially when wearing lace. So undignified.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lace & Perfection

After blogging about the lace project I did six years ago that scared me away from lace, I thought I would dig it out.

I had a heck of a time with the project. The pattern itself is a beginner lace pattern of "Feather and Fans"- you can find it in all sorts of places. I believe it was a free pattern from Knit Picks from 6 years ago and I tried to locate it again to no avail. The finished piece is 5'x15".

I wore this lace only once as a wrap to my friend's wedding and when I returned home I packed it away. The project annoyed me so much and I was plagued by the mistakes; I thought they were so obvious. At my friend's wedding many of the Norwegian ladies came to look at my wrap and they complimented me on it...but all I thought about were the mistakes and I was sure they could see them.

Yesterday, I took the lace out and examined it carefully. I was able to find one mistake. It's a really pretty piece but over the years it morphed into some ugly piece of knitting in my head.

I used to think that my projects had to be perfect in order to be good or pretty. I've lightened up A LOT on that front; marriage and motherhood force you to chill on perfectionism. And, you would have thought that a Divinity Diva theologian would have learned that lesson years ago: only God is perfect.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Definitely not the lace I was looking for...

Last Friday I blogged about not having enough yarn to finish Skywalker, but I figured out a way to at least salvage the project. And, I barely eked it out; there was less than 24" of yarn left. It was very, very close. I was sure if I was going to run out of yarn it would be on the last repeat of the edging, but thankfully, God smiled on me. I present to you: Skywalker Scarf made from Pediboo.

Okay, it looks like "crap" - Laura Nelkin says that repeatedly in the Craftsy lesson which totally cracks me up.  Lace looks awful when you take it off the needles. Who would want something like this?  All it needs is some warm water, blocking wires, and pins.  It is definitely worth investing in a blocking kit; I use mine on almost every project.  Laura gave me a good idea about blocking though, it should be done with a glass of wine (or Cosmo, but no chocolate, it might get on the yarn).

Here it is blocking - not too bad. The edging has a slight ruffle effect because I (correction from original post) added an increase row after Plasma stitch that way I had the correct number of stitches based on the pattern to do the edging.  I also knitted a few rows before starting the edging which worked out well since it gave me somewhere to place the pins while blocking.

Completed Skywalker Scarf

Since moving South I rarely wear scarves, but my mom loves them. She got an early birthday present this morning - I wanted her to be able to wear it before the hot months hit the Mid-South! The ruffled edging is really sweet and gives the scarf a lovely feminine finish.

While I felt stupid about not buying enough yarn, the scarf turned out great and my mom is thrilled. It wasn't the lace I was looking for, at least it found a happy home. I'm starting the Skywalker Shawl today and I know I will have more than enough yarn to finish it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fashionista Duvet

Last week I was in Houston to deliver some Christmas presents. This is the Fashionista Duvet and Pillow set I made for my niece. She has been working on creating a Paris themed bedroom. We searched and searched for Paris fabrics, but then we found the Fashionista collection by SPX. She picked one fabric from the April in Paris collection to make it explicitly French.

Fabric: Fashionista by SPX (click here to see the collection)
            French Words Natural from April in Paris collection by Timeless Treasures

I used the "Surf's Up" pattern from Simple Style: Easy Weekend Quilts to run along the top and bottom of the central panel. I wanted a simple block pattern to show off the lovely fabrics. I forgot to take a picture of the other side of the duvet (whoops!); it's Eiffel Tower fabric (by Timeless Treasures) outlined with a 2" strip of leopard print.

Close up of a block pattern

Here are the pillowcases. I used the basic pattern from America Patchwork and Quilting 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge.

The big challenge for this project was being 600 miles away from my niece. We did the best we could by utilizing FaceTime, Skype, and Dropbox to share ideas and progress. Thankfully, my niece (and sister-in-law) were thrilled with the final results! Now my sis-in-law is talking about complimentary curtains, more duvets, pillowcases, and curtains...I think it's time she learned to sew.