Sunday, May 31, 2020

Braided Gem Socks

Once again, I have a project to share but not much to say.

Casually posed feet wearing hand knit wool socks in shades of gray with spots of purple against a white background.

The yarn is new to me: Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Mary Ann in colorway 299 Moonbeams. It’s a soft yarn with a little bit of fuzziness that I hope won’t pill. The hand-dyed colors are gorgeous splashes of purples, blues and pinks against shades of gray. I had absolutely no problems with pooling.

Toes of feet wearing hand knit wool socks in shades of gray with spots of purple against a white background.

The pattern is Braided Gem Socks by Elizabeth Ravenwood, from the book “Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn” by Carol Sulcoski. It’s easy to understand and I memorized the pattern repeat early on, but I had a few issues with the stitch count when I reached the toes. I’m not sure whether the fault lies with me or the pattern, but I was able to make it work without much effort so it wouldn’t prevent me from knitting the pattern again.

Temperatures here are now consistently high enough that my toenails are painted and my sandals are seeing regular use. But there’s still so much going on in the world right now that I’m continuing to use sock knitting as a form of therapeutic stress relief. At this rate, I’ll have a lot of happy surprises when I revisit my sock drawer in the fall.

Take care out there.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Baby Cable Rib Socks

I don’t have much to say right now except that knitting socks really soothes my nerves.

Feet in a casual pose against a white background, wearing hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern.

With a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway 901 Cabaret, I knit the Baby Cable Rib pattern by Charlene Schurch in her book “Sensational Knitted Socks.”

Close-up of the cuffs and legs on a pair of hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern against a white background.

The stitch pattern was easy to remember. I’ve worked with Smooshy before and still love that the texture is true to the name. It was fun to see how the hand-dyed colors played out in the knitting.

Close-up of the toes and feet on a pair of hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern against a white background.

I have plans for at least two more pairs of socks in the near future. It’s not the most practical project choice considering we’ve already had temperatures in the 90s F (30s C), but they’ll get plenty of wear in time.

For now, they’re excellent therapy.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Springtime Table Runner

It’s been a long couple of months, hasn’t it?

With our lives in such a strange state of upheaval and sameness, my mental energy seems to be constantly changing. I move from one thing to another as my attention span and brain power allow.

I had been wanting to do some sewing, but I just wanted to sew. I pulled out a set of five quilt block kits from a long-ago quilt shop hop. I think I was supposed to end up with enough blocks to make a full quilt; clearly, I didn’t do quite enough hopping.

A neatly folded quilted table runner made from pastel floral cotton fabrics, resting dark wood.

Each kit included instructions and enough fabric to make a twelve-inch finished block. The fabrics were all from the same line and were pre-cut into strips. I was disappointed to learn that some of the strips were short or crooked, which left me with some pieces that were a little shy of the sizes they needed to be.

Four of the patterns were straightforward. The fifth, however, spanned multiple pages and required cutting out templates that were printed onto the backs of the instructions — at the time, I'm sure that shop would have been more than happy to sell me a set of templates to simplify the process.

I sewed the first four blocks together, and decided the fabric for the fifth block would be better used elsewhere. Because the fabric pieces weren’t cut precisely, the blocks ended up a little wavy and uneven.

After running through a few different ideas for what to make with the blocks, I decided on a table runner. In my stash, I found an off-white for the sashing and border, and a delicate flower bud print for the backing. There was just enough fabric from that fifth block to make a scrappy binding.

Loosely folded quilted table runner made from pastel floral cotton fabrics, resting on dark wood.

As far as the quilting, I wanted to stay in my comfort zone with simple straight lines but three of the blocks were made on a 6x6 grid while the fourth was made on an 8x8 grid. I could sew around the edges of the blocks or through their middles, but beyond that I wouldn’t be able to keep the quilting lines evenly spaced while also aligning with the block patterns.

I devised a pattern of diagonals that worked with the 6x6 grids and overlapped onto the 8x8 grid. Some areas have diagonals going in the same direction, some areas have diagonals crossing in opposite directions, and one section on the 8x8 grid ended up with no quilting. I quilted a series of horizontal lines (or vertical lines, depending on how you look at it) in that area. I like the result; it’s a sort of irregular regularity that works well with my current state of mind!

As is every quilter’s dream, the waves in the blocks have quilted out. The table runner a nice spot of brightness and cheer in these days that somewhat run together. Now that learn-from-home is done for this school year, I’m looking forward to this table runner replacing notebooks and computers on the dining room table.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Four Years!

Wow, it snuck up on me that today is The Art of Making Blog’s fourth blogiversary. Thank you for choosing to spend some of your time with me!

My main goal for this past year was to focus less on posting on a schedule and more on posting when I have something to share. In the past year, I’ve made only 32 posts instead of a weekly 52. By removing those weekly deadlines, I’m enjoying the blog more — and I hope you are as well.

The five most visited posts from the past year are:

Five photos in a row representing the most-read posts from the past 12 months: a doily, a quilt block, an amigurumi, a knit top, and another doily.

With the exception of the Lace Hem Top, these projects are all items for the home. Although the page views I’m looking at are for the past 12 months, it seems fitting right now that our focus would be on pieces that improve our surroundings.

However, three of the posts are from consecutive weeks in the summer and two are from a series of Halloween posts in the fall. More realistically than some prescient affinity for home, something about how I was sharing posts during those times caught your eyes. It likely comes back to marketing rather than the content itself, go figure.

Ah, well, I’m going to keep making and sharing posts that I enjoy — and I hope that somewhere along the line you like what you see. Cheers to the beginning of year five!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Color Block Pullover

I hope you’re all staying safe and well. Despite our state opening up, we’re still sheltering-in-place as much as we can. I’ve returned to working from home, which is surprisingly exhausting — I worked from home for years, but these circumstances are very different.

I would like to be someone who shares a post about my mask-making efforts during this time at home, but I can’t do it. I donated quite a bit of fabric to other makers, then settled in to two days of mask production. I barely made enough masks for our household and the effort left me emotionally drained. It took me more than two days to get out of the funk that I fell into. My making time is a time for escaping from reality for a little while; this kept my mind focused on the virus and its effects. Even though I know that homemade masks have serious limitations, I felt so much responsibility to get them right. If I were to send someone out in a mask that I made and they caught COVID-19, it would gut me. I wholeheartedly applaud those of you who are throwing yourselves into making masks.

My attention span has been short, so I’ve been bouncing around between different activities. As far as knitting, machine sewing, and hand sewing, I think I have four projects in progress right now. I’ve also been exercising, learning French and CSS code, reading romance novels and books related to my work, and doing crossword puzzles. And let’s not forget combing through various websites trying to find essentials in stock, meal planning like we’re in an episode of Chopped, and the usual cooking and cleaning. But I actually managed to finish something!

Front view of a woman standing outside wearing a hand knit short sleeve top in shades of pink.

With summer coming soon, I wanted to knit another warm-weather top. I decided on the #22 Color Block Pullover by Mari Lynn Patrick in the Late Winter 2019 issue of Vogue Knitting. The yarn I chose is Lana Grossa Linea Pura Solo Lino in the colorways 3 Rose, 35 Dark Rose, and 39 Lilac. I know, Lilac is a bit of an oddball choice with the rose colors but it looked more pink on my computer screen when I was placing my order.

This t-shirt is supposed to be oversized, but the pattern doesn’t mention how much positive ease to include when choosing a size. I made a Small to give me four inches (10.2 cm) of positive ease, anticipating that the linen could make the garment grow with wearing. After blocking and wearing, it’s still measuring true to size and I like the look and feel as it is. While it is not close-fitting, I think I could have gone up one size for more of an oversized look — but I worry that then the armholes would be too large. Maybe armhole length wouldn’t be an issue with the sleeves hanging further down my arms.

Back view of a woman standing outside wearing a hand knit short sleeve top in shades of pink.

The pattern was easy to follow. My biggest frustration was due to the fact that the only knitting needles I have in the size I needed are aluminum. It was a constant effort to prevent the stitches from slipping off.

The yarn is wonderful. It felt nice in my hands while I was knitting, and feels even better while wearing. It gives the shirt a nice drape and swing that feels pleasantly heavy and airy at the same time.

As far as the colors, as I mentioned they’re not exactly what I was expecting but I like them well enough. Looking at the website even now, I don’t know if I could pick a better combination if I ordered again. Maybe next time, it will be worth the time to screenshot all of the colors so I can mix and match to see them side by side. If anyone knows of a yarn store that incorporates a "compare these colors" type of feature on their site, please let me know in the comments!