Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kool-Aid Dyeing

I am a knitter. I am not a spinner or a dyer. I just have never had a desire to spin or dye yarn. I mean, I am already a quilter and a knitter and I think that's enough. I don't think I have time (or money) for another hobby! Until...

I got a great goody bag when I bought my ticket to Stitch 'n Pitch from a local shop. It was filled with some great stuff. A t-shirt, hat, and water bottle, two skeins of yarn, a pair of Knit Lite needles, and a couple of Louisa Harding books! Well one of the yarns is a gorgeous yarn by Cascade Yarns called Lana D'oro and it is 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool. It is so soft! But the color is awful. It is a light yellow with a green tinge to it. It looks sickly. (the picture does not portray how yellow/green this yarn is)

So my first thought was to over dye it. But I have no desire to get into dyeing because it requires that first investment. I had heard of dyeing with Kool-Aid and thought that would be easy, fun, and I could just use the pot and tongs that I already use in the kitchen. So I went in search of Kool-Aid hoping to find a blue but couldn't find that color so I went with purple. I googled Kool-Aid dyeing and found this tutorial. (isn't the Internet awesome!)

First I washed the yarn lightly in some mild soap and let it soak while I got the Kool-Aid ready in the pot. The tutorial says you use one packet for each ounce of yarn. Mine is only 1.75 ounces but I used three packets because I wanted a deep purple. I transferred the yarn over to the pot, added a little more water, and turned on the heat. I can't tell you how weird it was to be cooking my yarn!

Right before it started to boil I turned the heat off and put a lid on the pot. It sat for 30 minutes and I stirred it a few times during that time.

When the time was up I checked the water and it was practically clear. It was amazing that the yarn had soaked it all up. I then took it out and rinsed it in equally hot water so that the yarn wouldn't felt. And I was sure to use gloves because I really wasn't sure if I would get purple hands and I didn't want to risk it!

This picture of it in my hand is the most accurate portrayal of the color. Isn't it gorgeous!

I couldn't believe how dark and gorgeous the color turned out to be! I hung it outside to dry while secretly worrying that what happened to to the Yarn Harlot would happen to me. Squirrels! But I hung it high and I think it will be safe.

It sure smells delicious!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Amy Butler is a...

...genius!! I have loved Amy Butler's work for a long time but up until now hadn't made any of her patterns or bought any of her fabric. I know. Shocking! Well I was picking up one of my block of the month last week at my LQS and they had a cute bag hanging in the shop. I have had the perfect fabric to use to make a knitting bag for a while and have been on the hunt for a great pattern (secretly hoping it would be an Amy Butler). I knew by looking at the bag that it would be perfect to carry my hand knit socks in progress and it could hang off my wrist while knitting. When I found the pattern I was delighted to find out that it was an Amy Butler pattern called Stash and Dash Bags. So, of course, I bought it!

I came home, pulled out my fabric and got to work. My friend Lou 'the enabler' (love ya Lou) gave this fabric to me and I thought it was so fun. The fabric line is called Knitmare on Elm Street.

So now that I had tried out the pattern which by the way is the whole reason for calling Amy Butler a genius. I made another bag out of Amy Butler fabric that I had bought when I bought the pattern. The pink stripe is not an Amy Butler just something that matched from my stash.

The pattern for these Stash and Dash Bags is so well written. I thought the instructions were so clear and easy to follow. The bags are so fun to make and I am not stopping there. Here is some more fabric I bought that day to make a bag...

The stripe isn't an Amy Butler but the other one is. Isn't it so pretty? The pattern has three sizes of bags to make and I have been making the largest one, but I am going to make the other two sizes too. I am excited about the idea of making these as gifts. And maybe in the future I will have a giveaway with one of these bags full of goodies. What do you think?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Block of the Month(s)

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in UFOs? I have twelve project drawers in the sewing cabinet that my husband built for me. Well, ok, two of them are filled with my knitting needles and patterns and stuff, so ten, wait, two more are filled with quilting tools and stuff. So, I have eight drawers to hold my current (and not so current) projects. They are packed! (and lets not even talk about the practically forgotten UFO's that are stuffed in bags and shoved in the cabinets underneath)

One huge culprit of the UFO problem is my Block of the Month quilts. I have been in at least one block of the month program each year since 2004. My first one was in the form of a Saturday morning class and it cost all of $5. Not per month. $5 total for the entire class. A quilt top for $5. I signed up before I even saw the quilt. That quilt sat in block form until I finally put the top together this year and had it quilted. Now it just needs a binding.

The Block of the Month quilt for 2005 was in an Amish/brights style and they raised the price to $15 for the year. I actually finished this one and it hangs in my stairwell. Sorry for the weird angle, that's the best I could do.

I loved the quilt for 2006. The fabric was beautiful and it had a lot of traditional blocks. But it also had some new techniques like a block with folded flowers. I think the class went up to $25 but it was still a great deal. The only thing I didn't like about this quilt was that it had a big dog block and a big cat block. Now I know this will be shocking that I don't love cats (and dogs, but mostly cats) being that I am a quilter. But I have a really good reason. I am really allergic to them. So I didn't include those blocks in the quilt and decided to piece a mountain range instead. It goes great with the quilt but I haven't finished it and that's why it sits in the drawer.

Oh...and the other reason is that I have to piece a gazillion of these log cabin blocks for the border.

Last years Block of the Month class ended up being the Northcott flower of the month series. It was kind of a mystery because we didn't know what the block would look like until we went in every month. Each block was a different group of fabrics highlighting a flower. The only problem was that the blocks don't match at all! So it is kind of hard to decide how to put them into a quilt. And did I mention that they are between 15" and 16", which is huge and not consistent so I really have no idea what to do with these. And I am pretty sure this fabric series wasn't as popular as they hoped because after this block of the month series ended a lot of the quilt shops had the fabric on sale. What would you do with them?

Well, it is 2008 and you would think I would have learned my lesson by now. But no, I haven't. And I didn't sign up for just one block of the month this year. I signed up for three. I went with the same shop I have every year before. I joined this time (they have really raised the price) because, well, it's tradition.

Then I joined another one that will be a Sashiko quilt with gorgeous Japanese fabrics.

And finally I joined one for another local quilt shop. With this one I don't have to show my completed block each month. I don't think that is a good thing since I haven't made one yet. I really blame it on the Thangles. I have never worked with Thangles before so I just put it off. I am sure they are not hard, in fact they are supposed to make life easier. I just haven't found that time to sit down and find that out for myself.

So there you have it. It's a sickness really and I think the only way to cure it is to get all my past block of the month quilts finished. At least before I sign up for three more next year! Does anybody need to join Block of the Month Anonymous with me?

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Doll Quilt Arrived!!!

I was so surprised to get a package today and from someone I didn't know. The whole way back from the mailbox I was trying to figure out what it could be. Then it dawned on me that it might be from the doll quilt swap I signed up to be in. I was so excited as I ripped open the box and as soon as I looked inside I laughed because I read her blog!! And she posted the other day with a sneak peek of what she was sending out and I thought to myself, whoever gets that is so lucky! I can't believe I am the lucky one! She sent me a whole box full of goodies and a sweet little quilt that made me get all teary.

I got lots of candy. Lemonheads and Red Hots are perfect to snack on while quilting or knitting becasue they don't get melty and messy all over your work. And I am really excited to try Bulls-Eyes because I have never had them and they look yummy!

I also got this absolutely adorable little bag (that btw is perfect for knitting socks on the go) filled with tons of great stuff.

Can you believe it all fit in that little bag? I love little note pads and sticky notes and that sort of thing, so I was excited to find so many cute ones! I love the cute pen that I will use to write on my new sticky notes. And I'm always wishing I had index cards but never remember to buy them, so that was fun to find in the bag too! And of course I could always use more quilting notions! And I laughed at the tape measure because if she reads my blog she knows I lose them all the time.

Also in the adorable little bag was this cute fabric...

I love it! It has the cutest winter wonderland scenes and they all look so cute together. I can't wait to make a quilt with it! I am pretty crazy about this one that came in the bundle...

It has knit stitches all over it! Isn't that the cutest!

Ok, now for the best part...

She made me a quilt to remember my summer with my family. She read my blog and made a quilt that has memories in every fabric that she picked. It is amazing! She free motion quilted words all around the outside that reference people, places, and activities from the last three or four months. I just sat there holding the quilt and getting all misty eyed.

Now I am going to get sappy and mushy and I don't care. Donna. Thank you! I can't believe how much I love this sweet quilt. I am so touched by how personal you made it. Thank you for taking the time to make it for me. You made me feel so special. And thank you for all the extras you included with my quilt. You are wonderful!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Traveling Scarf #2

Second scarf done!

I looked through my stash and quickly figured out which yarn I wanted to use. The scarf's owner listed the colors she wanted this scarf knit with and it was the only color I had. So I picked Knit Picks Crayon in the Beach Glass colorway. Crayon is made of 100% pima cotton which worked out great because the scarf owner didn't want any acrylic in her scarf.

I am happy with how it turned out, but I had some frustrations along the way. I think I tried about five different stitch patterns. I had to keep frogging it. You couldn't even see the stitch pattern because the yarn is a boucle. So I ended up using the diamond eyelet stitch pattern. I think it looks pretty! I hope she like it!

Time to send this one off. Can't wait for the next one to come in the mail!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Traveling Scarf #1

I got my first two traveling scarves in the mail earlier this week. It is fun but a little nerve racking picking out yarn and a stitch that will compliment what the owner of the scarf started with. For the first one I wanted something really soft and drapy since that is what the owner's yarn was like. So I searched through my stash and came up with the softest thing I could find that was about the same weight. It was Microspun. This yarn is super splitty and makes you want to rip your hair out, BUT it is very pretty and soft once it is knit up. So I figured I could do the knitting and she would get to do the enjoying of the finished product. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be because I was smart and used blunt tipped needles which minimized the splitting.

I chose a diamond brocade stitch from a stitch-a-day calendar my mom gave me as a gift. I think it turned out really pretty and I think the colors look nice together too. I sure hope the recipient likes it! I sent it off in the mail and now I am onto the second one.

Cathedral Windows

If you guessed that my doll swap quilt is the Cathedral Windows pattern, you would be right! I have always wanted to make one and I thought this swap would be the perfect opportunity. My swap partner loves bright colors with lots of white in the quilt so I thought this would be a pattern she would like.
Getting the "windows" tucked and sewn in is a little fiddly but gets easier with each one.
This is all I have so far. I love how it looks and I am having fun with it. Every time I am ready for a new "window" I go through my scraps and pick something out. So it doesn't look like I am doing any kind of color pattern, just random bright, cheerful prints. I have a feeling this is going to be very hard to part with, so before this one leaves my house I may have to make its twin to stay here.
If you would like to try your hand at this pattern there is a wonderful tutorial here that I am using. She does a fantastic job at explaining the process and has great pictures for those of us who are visual learners.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Look how cute my socks are turning out! I love self striping yarn. I'm getting these socks done faster because I like to watch the pattern unfold.
The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in the mixed berry colorway. I decided to work on both socks at the same time to avoid SSS (second sock syndrome). So I just always pick up the shorter one when I sit down to knit. Plus I like the stripes to match so it is easier to do that if I cast them both on at the same time.

The quilt that the socks are on is my Valentine's Dear Jane that I made with my sister, Tina. We did the same thing we are doing for our big Dear Jane. We made two of each block and exchanged our second block. So we both have a little Dear Jane that we both made. It was a good instant gratification quilt since our big Dear Jane is taking a while.

Here is a full view of mine...

I did machine embroidered hearts around the outside of the blocks and tried my first scalloped border.

And here is a picture of Tina's...

I love the way she quilted hers. And I love how she free motion quilted the word love over and over again in the border.

I hope Tina won't mind me sharing her quilt. I don't think she will, she is so easy going. I am lucky to have her for a sister!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Sister

I like to sit and knit while my daughter plays piano. So when she started to practice today, I cast on a sock. I love knitting to my own private concert. It's like my knitting theme song.
Toward the end of her practice I wandered off and came back to this...
She was teaching her brother from the book she started in when she was six years old. Isn't that so cute!
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