UFOs and PhDs (Unfinished Objects and Projects Half Done)

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

I was talking with some online knitting/crochet friends via Hangouts the other day and we were talking about quilts. We somehow got on the subject of string quilts and I mentioned that I was saving all my fabric scraps from making face masks and will eventually incorporate them into a quilt project of some sort. This of course led me back to Pinterest, my favorite site, to look at all the beautiful string quilt projects out there.

This happened before, and that perusing became quite productive, as I did actually make a string quilt top, which is still in my storage room in a container. Hmmm…that’s not where I intended for it to land, and how many years ago was this?? So I got to thinking about all the neat projects I have started–and not finished. And I decided it’s time to finish up, or give it up, if I’m not feeling it.

I started with a basket I keep right at my feet in my craft room. It contained two table runner projects, one pieced and quilted with some homespun fabrics, one put together with just three fabrics, and quilted in a basic diamond design, a pair of knitted socks in need of repair, and a small punch needle of a fish that needed its final finishing.

The first of these I tackled were the homespun quilt, which was either going to be a table runner or a wall hanging. It was literally so long ago that I cannot possibly remember! I was inspired by a quilt book called Fast, Fun & Fabulous Quilts published by Rodale Press. The quilt was called Stars and Scraps Forever by Judith Hughes Marte.

Collage photo showing details of the "before" version of the homespun quilt and progress photos of the new binding.

I was in a hurry apparently, when I attempted to bind this quilt I made, because I believe I used prepackaged red bias binding and either didn’t take the time to learn how to properly attach quilt binding, or I just didn’t care. (Sometimes I get in that mode of not caring too much–I almost always regret it.)

So I had to remove the terrible red binding, then I found some black fabric in my stash, but it didn’t feel like 100% cotton, more like a stiff cotton blend. I made single fold binding and attached it like a pro, thanks to this wonderful YouTube video by Fons & Porter. Then came time to sit and hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Since it’s not a large piece, it didn’t really take too long. I did have some difficulty with pulling my thread through the new binding fabric, so I conditioned my thread with Thread Heaven. It’s a great product to have around.

And here is the finished quilt!

Photo of finished homespun star quilt

Next, I had to repair my hand knitted socks. These socks, called Tuscany, are by designer and sock earth angel Melissa Morgan-Oakes, who is a best selling author. I purchased her book Toe Up Two At a Time Socks after borrowing a copy from my library and realizing I needed it in my own personal library for ever. I have made a few pair from this wonderful, fully instructional book. I highly recommend this book if you wish to knit socks two at a time, with all the information you need for sizing, fiber choice, etc. There are several wonderful sock patterns in just one book. (I do not receive any commission whatsoever for providing links.) All I had to do was better reinforce the toe. I don’t know what yarn this was but I wasn’t thrilled with it. The stitch pattern does look really nice, but I felt that the yarn might not hold up to my needs around heels and toes. Now that I can wear them instead of staring at them in disrepair, we shall see how they hold up!

Photo of hand knit socks, pattern called Tuscany
This is a collage of three photos of me wearing the hand knit Tuscany socks.

Next I wanted to “final finish” my little punch needle of a fish. I probably started this project about 3 or 4 years ago, then finished the punching while living here in Minnesota. Then I didn’t fully finish the project, but rather stuck it in that basket under my desk. This little design came from a pack of 9 iron-on transfer designs in American Folk Art style by DMC. I had completed one other one from this collection and framed it in a shadow box for a dear friend. So I found a little $3 frame months ago that I thought would be a good piece for displaying finished needlework of some sort. I unwrapped it, but soon realized it was not going to work, as my punch needle piece is really a rectangle, while the frame is definitely square. I tried to make it work, with ribbon, etc, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I proceeded to attach the punch needle work to a small piece of sticky board, and silly me, when I went to reposition the work on the sticky board, some threads stuck to the sticky board and came right out of the work! Arggh!! A short string of profanity followed. Then I had to dig out the Russian punch needle, the hoop and embroidery floss and fix what had come out. Luckily this great little design is very forgiving in that there are so many lovely blues and greens and even tans and grays in the water portion that you don’t need to be precise with color placement. I had it fixed in no time, then instead of repeating my mistake again, I went to the window to help me line up the needlework on the sticky board, and then simply folded the extra monks cloth fabric to the back, added a few magnets and boom–I now have a fishy magnet.

Collage of four photos of the fish punch needle
Photo of the finished fishy punch needle magnet

Lastly, I had another table runner project to finish. Again, I cannot remember when I made this, but it never had a binding, so I did purchase the green fabric before the quarantine and lock down went into effect, so I simply made single fold binding out of 2 1/4″ strips of the fabric. I did not cut bias binding, but rather, cut on the grain, because I knew I would not have any curvy parts to bind. Again, I used the Fons & Porter video mentioned above to attach the binding with such a great finish. It’s a bit fiddly to finish it off but it works like a charm.

Collage of photos of my quilted table runner project getting a nice binding.

I realize my green thread doesn’t match well but you don’t even see it! I love the wonder clips by Clover for holding the binding in place just a few inches away from my hand sewing. I also use the clips when I’m sewing face masks with fabric ties. They are great! I can highly recommend.

I just have to show off this funny photo of the finished piece in my living room with our youngest cat, Dewey, hanging out on his banana. 😉

Photo of the finished diamond quilted table runner with my cat Dewey in the background.

Thanks for stopping by! I feel pretty good about getting these projects completed. Now I will have to dig out the larger quilt projects I have in my storage area that need finishing and decide how to proceed. I hope you have a wonderful day! — Jenny

Back to it!

How does the time fly by so fast and I haven’t written a blog post? I guess it doesn’t matter because here I am now, attempting to write a post!

Spring has finally arrived in the midwest after a few stray snowfalls that sent most everyone into a depressive rant. Back in February, my husband and I took a work trip (HIS work) to Newport Beach, California. It was so nice to get away but because we have no family here in Illinois, and no family members from Michigan could come to stay with our boys, it was a bit worrisome for me to leave them with friends and neighbors. While my older son was fast approaching 18 years old, he can’t seem to get up on his own for school, so there was no way I could leave him in charge of himself and his 12 year old brother.

It all worked out though, and husband and I had a really awesome time in California even though it was a little bit chilly. It was sunny and seeing palm trees and green grass instead of the brownish-gray frozen midwest was quite nice. Plus, the resort we stayed at (Pelican Hill) was amazingly beautiful.

While we were there, we went kayaking, we went on an Art Walk in beautiful Laguna Beach, we did a super fun cooking class at Manassero Farms in Irvine, and we dined with colleagues at lovely restaurants as well as danced and had a great time at the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana.

In terms of MAKING STUFF,  I have been very busy making things because that is what I do. I love to make things, as I may have mentioned before. 😉 I also attended Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago for the first time and took a class on Japanese Knitted Fingerless Mitts.Collage 1

So as you can see from these collages, there are a lot of things that have been crafted since my last (so long ago) blog post. 

Then my younger son gave me absolutely NO time to come up with a costume and items for him for Patriot’s Day at school. I crafted him a tricorn hat thanks to a wonderful template and instructions I found at Pizza By The Slice!

The muskets were made with thick foam core board that I layered and glued three thick and then cut out with a reciprocating saw. Then my son and I did some carving and sanding and painting and adding paper bits as well as some hardware to get them looking realistic. It was a ton of work but they “sold” fast in the colonial market. Too bad he didn’t think to keep one! Oh well.

These photos aren’t everything but I would say they represent the majority of what I’ve been up to. More to come!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

Crafting vintage items

I just LOVE the look of vintage things. They remind me of a simpler time my parents and grandparents would talk about with longing in their eyes.

Okay, that sounds super sappy and instead of the Norman Rockwell painting it evokes, they really just started every sentence with, “In my day, we didn’t have no damn (fill in the blank) to worry about!” and they were clearly annoyed with whatever new piece of “technology” we so proudly held up in their faces.

Anyhow, I am lucky to be the owner of a few vintage craft items, like some very old crochet thread in original Coats & Clark’s boxes (although I cannot find them right now!), and the substantial pinking shears below. I wish I had the old sewing machine table my mom once used. It was the kind where you opened the wood lid, which was hinged at the side and up popped the bluish-green sewing machine! I used to drive my little Matchbox cars around it, before I developed my interest in crafting. This was an electric sewing machine, not the really old-fashioned treadle machine. That would be even more cool to have around.

pinking shears

As for the Coats & Clark’s threads, I used them to crochet this tiny little afghan and pillows for my dollhouse when I was young. I am even amazed today I was able to crochet so neatly when I was young, but my mom did sew all the motifs together to construct the afghan. It looked absolutely adorable and authentic in my dollhouse on a sweet miniature bed. These pieces must be about 35 to 40 years old (yikes!).

mini crocheted blanket and pillows

close up mini crocheted blanket and pillows

Every once in a while, I get the urge to make something that is vintage. There are plenty of patterns out there for vintage-looking knits, crocheted items, clothing to sew, and wood things to make and distress, but what I’m actually referring to is working from an old pattern, like from one of these vintage booklets.

vintage crochet booklets

These booklets are just a few examples of what were given to me by a friend who got them from her grandmother, I believe. I wasn’t sure if I would ever make anything from them, but so far, I have completed two crocheted doilies, and I am in the process of knitting a baby sweater from a 1986 magazine.

This particular doily was not difficult to crochet, but it did take some time, and I DID have to wear my cheater glasses. I love the way it turned out and it lives happily in my family room under a small lamp. Whenever I get the urge to make another one, I have about a hundred patterns to choose from!

doily close up

The current “vintage” item on my needles is this baby sweater. It’s only from 1986, so not terribly old.

sweater patt photo

It is being knit in acrylic baby yarn, instead of cotton as suggested, because like so many times, I want to knit something NOW and not WAIT UNTIL I HAVE THE RIGHT YARN. I was leafing through the magazine and saw this and wanted to start it right away!! It’s a curse.

It’s an interesting pattern, in that you knit it from the bottom up, adding a row of blue every after 14 rows of white, but the vertical blue lines are added later, with chain stitch completed with a darning needle. To assist you in doing the chain stitches and getting their alignment perfect, you knit a pattern of purl stitches every row, every ten stitches, so when you do your chain stitching later, the blue yarn lays nice and flat and makes perfectly straight vertical lines. Very clever!

front and back

I have recently completed the front and back, shown above, and am knitting the sleeves, both at the same time.That is something I like to do whenever I can because you really do get two identical things. You just have to work from two separate balls of yarn.

stranded yarn

I thought it would be more efficient to carry the white strand as I knit the one blue row, instead of cutting and reattaching the yarn, but I wasn’t happy with that stranding on the wrong side of the work. I thought maybe little fingers would get caught in the stranding and really snag the sweater. So I cut the stranded white yarn in the middle of the body of the sweater, pulled it out of its blue stitches holding it in place, then wove the ends in. There is a fair amount of weaving in on this pattern, but I don’t mind it. I know some knitters really hate this part.

cutting the strand

all that weaving

One more note on vintage things…I have wanted for some time to have a vintage camper. The problem is, we aren’t campers. But I realize that many people have vintage campers they keep on their property and it becomes a wonderful little getaway in their back yard! That’s what I want, but I would also LOVE to go camping, too. My husband feels that camping for him, however, involves a Holiday Inn Express. It’s still a dream of mine, and I love looking at Pinterest at all the vintage campers and trailers out there. I like to imagine myself hanging out in a cozy camper with a cup of coffee and a vintage project on the needles…

Maybe some day….

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

 

I’ve got the BLUES!

old blue car

Blue is NOT my favorite color, but when it comes to a baby blanket, and the baby is going to be a boy, then I do like it quite a lot.

finished ABC blanket

My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy this September so I thought I would make them a blanket. Blankets are fairly easy, depending on the pattern, but they can also be boring to knit or crochet, depending on the pattern. When I have a larger thing to make, I have to try and find a balance between “not too terribly involved” and “not so boring I won’t work on it.”

I found what I was looking for on Knitpicks‘ website. But I didn’t start on their website. I started at my favorite yarny place: Ravelry. If you’re a knitter and/or crocheter, you might have a profile on Ravelry. I do, but I haven’t been very good about keeping it updated. With the start of this blog, I do hope I have an easier time keeping my Ravelry site up to date.

I searched for baby blankets on Ravelry and got about a bazillion results. Somehow, I sifted through all the stuff and came across this lovely pattern from Knitpicks. It’s called the ABC Baby Blanket by Jenny Williams and it’s simply knit and purl stitches. It is also a charted pattern. If you’re new to knitting or crochet, you may not know what a charted pattern is. For some people, it can seem confusing or overwhelming. I, myself, am a visual person, and I find I like knitted charts just fine. I am not very skilled on reading some crochet charts, however. Below, you will see a sample of a crochet chart and a knitting chart. Like a map, you need a “key” to understand what the symbols mean.

charts

This blanket kept my interest because in between 24 rows of plain old garter stitch, I had to read the charts so my blanket would have lovely graphical images of a duck, a star, a sailboat, etc. The garter stitch is what went between the nine graphical blocks. The images were knitted in reverse garter stitch on a field of stockinette stitch. If you would like to learn any of these stitches, click here to be redirected to the Knitpicks’ tutorials pages.

I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Medium Blue to complete my blanket. It’s a decent acrylic yarn to use. It’s soft and easy to work with. I have had babies, and I wouldn’t want to worry about a baby blanket knit in some expensive wool or cotton, and kitchen cotton is not my favorite thing to work with (plus it doesn’t feel very nice for a blanket.) I used almost three skeins of yarn.

As for needles, I used a size 7 circular needle, because you need a circ to get all those stitches of the blanket on. I started out with a circ I had in my “collection” but it wasn’t quite long enough, so I had to go shopping. Oh darn…

My good friend (who does not knit or crochet but is an artist) and I went to visit this very cool place in a nearby town called Fine Line Creative Arts Center. I had been there for the first time in May when I was helping to chaperone a large group of high school art students who were spending the day there doing all sorts of wonderfully creative things. I learned on that particular visit that this incredible place has a shop! And they have yarn, and other fibers for weaving and such. And they have needles! I bought these 40″ wooden needles and I absolutely LOVED knitting with them. And you can see in the photo they cost $9.50, which I felt was a fair price. They sure were comfortable to knit with.

Driftwood needles

I also tried something new in this Beginner level pattern. I tried to do a Russian join, which is a way to add a new skein of yarn when you run out of the current skein. I knew a little about this type of join, but didn’t know how to do it, so I consulted Youtube. Since I don’t remember the particular video I used, I cannot share that with you here, but I can share this link to Knitpicks where they have a nice non-video tutorial on the Russian join.

I thought I did an okay job with my first Russian join, but I was nervous about it coming unraveled, because the yarn is acrylic, and I figured a wool would perform better. But I did it, then I kept worrying about it. What if I didn’t do the join in a long enough piece of yarn? What if the blanket starts falling apart on its new owners? So I picked at it until it came undone, and let me tell you, it came undone awfully easily. Boo.

Here is what I had left when I picked it apart. Looking at this now, it’s clear I didn’t do the join long enough.

unraveled join

And here is what the blanket looked like when I wove in those ends with a yarn needle.

woven in ends

So, next time I do a Russian join, I’m going to do it better. I need to have confidence that the knitted piece will not come unraveled. Or else I won’t be able to sleep at night! And I love to sleep.

As I write this post, the blanket is nicely packaged in tissue paper secured with a pretty blue ribbon and in a box, en route to its new owners, my nephew and his wife. I do hope they love it, and I hope their new son will use it for a long time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Knitpicks, and I do not receive anything if someone clicks on the links to their site that I provided. I just shop on their site sometimes, and get free patterns and such.