This long weekend, my best knitter friends and I met up at a former barn-turned-meditation-center-now-airbnb-rental in rural Connecticut—it is our ninth such get together in six years! We played in the picture-perfect snow a little, but we mostly sat in our claimed spots on the couches, knit, and watched the Olympics. Oh, and we ate our weight in cheese and homemade bread. It was nothing short of perfect, except half of our group couldn’t make it this time.
I knit on my Frankenshawl—I mean, my Follow Your Arrow. I finished Clue 4 but had forgotten to bring another ball of the yarn along. We also shot a quilt I finished and brought with me, but I can’t show you that yet!
I’ve been crocheting. I have no idea where this project came from, really. Years ago (in 2010!) I loved my friend Diana’s Frida skirt. I had knit several skirts and bought the same yarn as her to make my own. In a khaki color. That is not dissimilar from my own skin tone. In truth, I know what I was thinking: I have a khaki skirt that I practically lived in for years each summer until holes finally separated the waistband from the body of the skirt, and I thought to knit myself a staple that I’d wear just as much. I knit nearly the entire thing before getting up to the waist and worrying that it wouldn’t fit. Apparently instead of really trying it on and making a decision, I shoved it in a bag and hid it at the back of the yarn shelf.
Last week in a fit of pique I decided to straighten up the bookcase I use for a few yarns, ones that haven’t been packed up and stored in the closet properly. The piles were meant to artfully mimic those in a yarn store, but what I was ending up with was a waterfall of yarn that threatened to spill over any time I touched it. Some cleanup was in order. And lo and behold I found a few nearly finished projects languishing at the back, complete with needles in the stitches. One was this skirt, which I pulled off the needles and tried on. And it was terrible. The color looked horrendous on me, and while the waist was definitely destined to fit OK, I knew I would just never wear it. So I plopped down and ripped the whole thing out.
But what to do with such a yarn? No garment would make sense, as I do not want to wear that color on my body. Maybe a sophisticated baby blanket. Yes, that’s an idea. The yarn is lusciously soft and buttery so despite being cotton I think it would make a nice blanket. So I flipped through some crochet books and settled on a motif in Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. I happened to pick a square one, ha. It’s easy to memorize, I can bang out a half-dozen in an evening, and I feel pretty empowered to make a whole (baby) blanket (something I’ve never done before). We’ll see how long I last before I bore of the squares!
Last October, I browsed the halls of Rhinebeck with nothing in particular in mind. I wasn’t really knitting too much, so I mostly went to spend a day with friends and see some sheep. But then we passed through Oasis Farm Fiber Mill‘s booth and petted their yarn and came to a screeching halt. It was so so soft, despite its rustic appearance, and we all wanted it. I decided it would make a lovely gift for Dad for Christmas. So I called my mom and asked her if Dad is allergic to angora and what color she thought he’d like in a scarf. I debated among their colors for a time before settling on a pretty heathered blue. The yarn doesn’t have labels so I truly have no idea which yarn I bought, but I think it’s the “Classic Bunny” (because I don’t recall picking one with silk content, but who knows).
There was no way I would knit something up in time, nor could I be sure my hands could handle it, so I brought out my little 10-inch Cricket and got to work the week before the holiday. I worried about warping it with this yarn, as it felt delicate, but I didn’t know how to resolve that issue so I just barreled ahead and crossed my fingers—I realize that I’m lucky it held up just fine. I know just enough about yarn to be concerned, but not enough about how weaving works best nor what my personal preferences are to know what kind of fix would be right. (Obviously, choose a stronger yarn for the warp, but how would I find one in just the right color? Would I want warp and weft in different colors? There were just too many variables.) I know confidence and knowledge will come with time, so for now each foray into weaving is another experiment, and blind luck and a hopeful attitude makes up for actual planning. (I could never imagine approaching knitting this way! Egads.)
As I say, my weaving experience is very limited so of course my skills are, well, in need of practice, but I think I did okay. I tried not to beat the weft down too hard (which is my instinct) in order to keep the gauge relatively even in both directions. Truth is, a different-dent reed was probably in order but I only have the one. The edges are not exact but they’re not drastically bad, either! I think dad liked it a lot, and he immediately donned it when we exchanged Christmas presents a few weeks ago. I only wish I’d bought more of this yarn to weave a scarf for myself, too.
I spent my holiday assembly-line cutting and chain-piecing a quilt I’d planned out ages ago. This is a gift so I can’t show anything yet, but I should be able to very soon! It’s all solids and I’m really happy with how it’s coming out, though I continue to have issues with basting: I was more careful and meticulous than ever, not stretching things too much but what I thought was just enough, only to be thwarted. The only fix I could come up with was to basically re-baste coming off each quilt line. I’ll get this down pat someday.
So my dear friend Miko is expecting a baby in February, and for her shower I was charged with organizing an activity of some kind, preferably of the not-messy variety. I wasn’t inclined toward fabric paint anyway, because even thought that makes the designs really personal, it also makes them look—let’s be honest here—like crap. While it’s nice, I’m sure, to have a handful of baby garments that feel truly expendable, I figured we could do a little better.
I found some ideas online and followed suit, buying a bunch of onesies (mostly all newborn size; if I were to do this again I’d get more of an assortment of sizes if possible) and also some bibs. A nice long roll of Heat ‘n’ Bond was going to be the key to simple, mess-free decorating. In order to ensure all the designs would match, I bought a charm pack of fabrics (Moda Bluebird Park). I considered bringing scraps from my own stash—and this could be an awesome scrapbuster!—but I’m happier with how it all looks using this matched set. I cut out an assortment of simple shapes (turtle, elephant, ice cream cone, letters, random shapes) in heavy-weight paper for people to use as stencils. I also brought some cookie cutters for tracing.
The process goes like this: Cut the Heat ‘n’ Bond into a manageable square—about the size of a charm square or just the size of the chosen shape. Have a guest pick a stencil and trace the shape onto the paper side of the Heat ‘n’ Bond, reminding them that if it has directionality it needs to be traced backward. Do not let them cut it out yet! Take the square and iron it to the back of their chosen fabric, then have them cut it out of the fabric. They can then peel the paper backing off the shape and arrange it how they want on the onesie/bib (no worries about permanence: it won’t stick until ironed again). Then press it into place! Done! I manned the iron for the most part, but people could certainly do that themselves if the iron were conveniently placed (I was in a corner with a mini board on the floor!).
Everyone really got into it and people had some sweet and creative ideas. The mom-to-be even got in on the action, designing her own martini glass for a bib. I did the “H” on a hedgehog circle (the baby’s last name will begin with H), the ice cream cone, and two jigsaw pieces. I think everyone enjoyed it and the results are super cute! I hope mom gets lots of use out of them and smiles whenever the kiddo spits up on one. (They should last in the wash. I imagine they’ll start to come apart after a few washings, but they’ll have done their job!)