happiness

Although we’re still having frosty mornings, it does seem like spring is finally on the way.  I love Scottish winters, however harsh, but I like seeing the seasons change too, especially when we’re moving towards one that lets me be outside more.

This new garden is so exciting.  Bits of ground that looked like empty spaces are now covered in shoots and bulb flowers are popping up everywhere.  I think these might be daffodils –

My other notable excitements from the weekend was that I opened the windows for the first time (!) and I finally managed to sew some straight lines!!

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knitting in the dark

Now that I think about it, this seems more than a bit illogical.  I had a cinema trip coming up and needed something to knit in the dark.  For times like this, I always go for multi-coloured or striping yarn, because if I’m knitting plain socks I need some colour change or I get bored.  Um…it doesn’t seem to matter that I will be knitting them in the dark

I started these at the weekend in some Noro Silk Garden Sock, and by the time The King’s Speech had finished the colours had changed from pink to blue to dark green to bright green and then to purple.  And I missed it.  Because it was dark.  Obviously!

I do love them though.  I haven’t knit with Noro since my days sample knitting in the yarn shop and I was never that keen.  I think I found that the random changes in texture and bits of straw took a bit more concentration, and that’s not something I want when I’m knitting a plain pattern (which is what I’m always going to knit with striping Noro.)

This is a super-thick sock yarn so I’ve got up a couple of needle sizes and adjusted my in-my-head sock pattern a bit.  They’re coming out lovely and dense but not too stiff.  I just kinda wish I’d made these months ago when our house was buried in snow…

some colourful crazy

I’ve been working away on a new quilt, and put all other sewing projects aside until its done.  With a few projects planned as gifts to be given over the next few months I’m going to try and get through them one by one.  This lovely pile of colour is the first, a 12 block lap quilt using my Moda jellyrolls in the Freebird by Momo range.

And then I started playing around with the scraps…

my first quilt

I’m just back from a lovely weekend visiting my parents who still live in the house I grew up in, in the Scottish Highlands.  We had some beautiful early Spring weather so I helped my Dad with some gardening, clearing away old growth and giving some bushes and hedges a pretty serious haircut.  (It turns out when I have both a power hedge-cutter and sharp saw I can get a bit carried away!)

I remembered this time too to take some photos of the first quilt I made which was a present for my mum.  This sampler quilt was a beginner project in classes at my local quilting shop and was supposed to be a nine-block quilt but I wanted it a bit bigger.  I ended up making twice the number of blocks, then an extra two to make a 4×5 block lap quilt.

After having a good look at it I’ve realised that since I made this my quilting skills have signficantly improved, but my piecing has gone a bit downhill.  This probably has something to do with my teacher supervising a lot of the cutting and patchwork!  My standards seem to have slipped a bit.

This quilt has lots of nice points and straight lines.  The quilt top I’m working on at the moment is a little bit crazy (I’ll show more later) so once that’s done I’m going to start on something with a bit more skill required, and try and brush up on my piecing technique.

To go with this quilt I made a couple of cushion covers, just by replicating my favourite Trip Around The World block in the lap quilt.  It’s made me want to do the same for my current quilt-in-progress.  There will be a peak tomorrow!

designing is not for me

Back when I worked in a knitting shop I used to be occasionally persuaded into writing patterns for some of the more unusual yarns we sold that had no pattern support.  It led to a little phase (and one that has long-ago passed and never returned) of designing things.  My main problem with designing is that I absolutely detest writing up patterns.  I prefer to leave it to the experts, who design things much nicer and fun to knit that I ever could, and who write directions much better than I could ever attempt myself.  What’s the point in doing it myself when there are so many other, better things to knit?

During this brief phase I did design a sock pattern, which I only knit one of and discovered the other day sitting lonely beside the leftover yarn at the bottom of a box.  Amazingly, I am managed to find my notes too so I’ve decided to get them finished.  The yarn is from Old Maiden Aunt and I think called Sour (though it doesn’t look like the Sour colourway on the website today – this yarn is a few years old!).  I’m not sure what it’s made of exactly but there’s bamboo in there somewhere.  The yarn is too nice not to have sitting in my very-old-WIP-box unloved.  Here’s a wee peek at the first one.  Also, I can feel a green phase coming on.

(And in case anyone asks, I will not be writing up a pattern for this!)

necessary sewing

After reading Soulemama’s post yesterday about practical sewing, I looked over at my machine and saw a tangled mess of pins and thread and bobbins.  So I made probably the quickest project ever, a wee pin cushion to tidy things up.

I used some plain blue demin for the base and some beautiful hand-printed fabric that was brought back from Ysolda’s latest travels.  I think it came from A Verb for Keeping Warm (and my dream LYS). I can’t see it on the website, thought I think it was printed by the same person who makes these gorgeous project bags.

This wee project was a nice distraction from the five or six quilts I want to make and have been dreaming about over the last few days.  After all my talk about wanting to do bigger projects it’s starting to overwhelm me a bit, they are big and there are too many of them!

Penny’s quilt revealed…kinda…

We’ve taken in rescue dogs for years and always been a no-animals-on-the-sofa kind of house.  We’ve started to cave in recently though for Penny as she’s the first smallish dog we’ve had who actually likes coming up, and sometimes its just nice to have her up for a cuddle, and to snigger when her snoring drowns out out the tv.

I wanted to teach her though that she’s only allowed up to cuddle, and not whenever she feels like it and when we’re not there.  Part of the reason for this is that it seems like good manners, and we have leather sofas from our pre-vegetarian days which I don’t really want covered in scratch marks.

Penny’s learnt that she can come up when she’s invited, and if there’s something been laid out for her to curl up on.  I realised that the thing we were reaching for was my Brown Bunnies Quilt, which quite frankly, is a bit too nice to get covered in dog hair.

I used this reasoning to convince myself that I had to make her a little quilt of her own.  So a couple of weekends ago I started playing around with some strips of blue, grey and natural leftovers.

This seemed like a genius plan – sew lots of strips together, then slice the top at a 90 degree angle into more strips, stagger them, then sew them together again.

It worked, except that once I had sewn together the first long strips I realised something.  I am VERY bad at cutting long straight lines, especially if the edges I was working from were never straight in the first place.  (I also used some stretchy fabric and sewed it all together a bit quickly, which didn’t help!)

I carried on with the constant mantra of ‘it’s for Penny, she’s not going to care.’  Once the new strips had been staggered and re-sewn together it was so squint I couldn’t even take a photo.  It’s embarrassing.

I just did my best to square it off and added a white border to make it a bit bigger.  I quilted and trimmed it, and then added a machine-sewn binding today.  This thing is so curvy it’s almost funny.  There are many other things wrong with it which I’m not going to go into, but this has taught me a lot!  The main thing though is that Penny loves it, she mooched about unhappily when I took it away to sew on the binding, then went and sat in the next room in a huff.  There is no avoiding my Official Crazy Dog Lady status now!