Current knitting

Someone just recently made a comment about all the knitting projects I have going, and I just wanted to explain that I’m not really excessively committed. It’s all about balance, and I do try to maintain a certain amount of balance with small and large projects.

Right now I’m working on:

one big project: Lochinvar sweater from Alice Starmore’s Fishermen’s sweaters

one medium project: lace stole with my first handspun that will eventually become a gift — although this may end up being restarted, because I may have cast on with too many stitches

one medium charity project: a simple feather and fan stole as a prayer shawl

one small charity project: a hat

one small traveling project: socks — on the toe of sock #1, which means that this picture is now out of date

The other two projects I mentioned were also small and therefore already finished, namely, a dishcloth and a scarf for myself.

In the ideas stage but not yet ready to begin: a baby blanket for a friend’s baby due in June; a knitted lace shawl (BIG project) for which I am still swatching; a Fair Isle scarf that will be for practice in learning stranded-color knitting; the next sweater, but which one is uncertain, since there are two possibilities; the next pair of socks, which will be a gift for my sister (only one pair of socks at a time, plus I still need her foot measurements).

I’ll start the baby blanket as soon as I get the yarn, but will hopefully be able to whip that out comparatively quickly.

So, really, it’s not that much. At least, it’s not much for me, unless I start to think about all the other projects I have in train in the many fiber arts in which I am involved. Then, well, I do get a little overwhelmed. But I always have to remember that I enjoy the process as well as the product, and I’m not really in a big hurry for most of these projects. So slow is okay, as long as they do get finished.


Which reminds me, I need to show you the pictures of the handmade quilt, now that I’ve got pictures of it, but I’ll do that tomorrow. One craft per post!

Chevron stitch and Algerian eye

Well, I actually did these a while ago, but I’m posting late. It’s been fairly busy around here. But I did get them up on flickr!

Anyway, this is one where I actually planned ahead and decided to draw out some ideas of how to use these two stitches together.

Something about these two together really got me going — I had lots of ideas, as you can see.

So the first thing I tried was to simulate a quilt block idea, with partial and whole Algerian eye to shape it, and chevron to add some life in the four-patch quarters. All done with perle cotton 5. It came out pretty well, although I felt it was somewhat uneven in spots.

No, no, wait, that wasn’t first!

First was me doing some layered chevron stitch, using the different variegated threads of embroidery floss. The picture is a little dark, but the overall effect is there. I liked it, but was somewhat bored by it; partially I think it was because my floss had such long stretches of color. To get more of the color contrast and effect I was looking for, it needed closer color changes. I’ll have to look for that next time I buy some thread.

After that came the quilt block.

Then I got going on a landscape image, using these two stitches, along with some basic backstitch. I made a mountaintop using the Algerian eye stitch, then trees and a road using chevron stitch. It came out rather well.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I did try to do a stitch combination the way I’ve seen the crazy quilters among us use them on seams in a block. You may not be able to see it incredibly well, because the colors are darker, but it starts with a base chevron stitch, weaves in a twisted together strand of the blue and the gray colors, adds in fly stitch, then a French knot. It looks nice and complex, although I think the colors could have been done better. But I was in the mood for blue and gray (old high school colors; I’ve always liked that color combination).

So, the last things I tried were a “sun” shape, using the Algerian eye stitch with buttonhole, plus a basic border stitch seam treatment,
and another attempt at a kind of quilt block, a nine-patch this time. The sun came out rather nice, certainly better than the picture ideas of it, I think because it was actually smaller and closer together on fabric than it was on paper. The nine-patch is, well, still in process. I outlined it, and then decided I wasn’t sure exactly what to put in the blocks. Something different or the same in each one? I’ll have to think about that one some more.

Next, fly stitch, maybe combined with the next stitch to come along. Soon, I’ll try to get up the new quilt blocks I’ve made and a progress report on my other craft work. Today I just attended a class on learning how to spin flax. I’m not sure I really mastered the skill, but at least now I have a good grasp of the basic idea.

Sampler quilts

I suddenly realized in looking at my recent posts that one might think I am working exclusively on the TAST challenge.

This is SO not true.

These days, I have seven knitting projects of varying levels of difficulty actively going on, plus I am taking a beginner’s machine quilting course in order to fill in the gaps on my self-taught skills. So far it hasn’t taught me anything dazzlingly new, but has added in some nice tricks. Hopefully I may actually get a completed quilt out of it that I have made all the way on machine. We’ll see.

Also, my cross-stitch project continues to move along on one hour a week. Spinning and regular sewing are on the back burner right now, but will return fairly soon. (I am scheduled for a one-day spinning class the middle of this month.)

This post is for the quilt progress, but I’ll make sure to get up pictures of the other items soon as well.

Anyway, here are the blocks I have made so far.

A lovely nine patch block called Monkey wrench

Next is the slightly more complex nine patch, Ohio Star

Yet more complexity in the interesting Jacob’s Ladder

The second week we moved on to four patch blocks, of which I have made only one so far. I have a second one in progress (Windmill), but I am having problems with it coming out properly due to the irritations of stretchy bias edges on triangles. But I may have discovered a trick to working around that. In the meantime, I have done the Shooting Star.

In the meantime, I am slowly, slowly working on another quilt that I have done up to this point entirely by hand. I pieced it ALL by hand, which has taken me quite a while, considering I mainly worked on it at work. (That’s part of why it is all by hand, since a sewing machine is NOT going to work with me.) I am only on my third block of quilting at this point, so this is going to take me probably four years before I’m done, but that’s okay.

Actually, in looking at this picture, I realized that it is out of date, since the quilt now has twelve blocks, not nine. I had completed it up to this point, looked at it, and said, I want it longer. So I made three more blocks and added them in. It also is a sampler quilt. I’ll try to get an updated picture soon, so that I can actually name all the blocks I made.

Cretan stitch

Well, I actually did get to this one last week, but am only now finding time to actually get the info up. It’s a good thing this challenge is so flexible. Right now, life is busy, among other things, because I’m taking a sane machine quilting class. My embrace of quilting is wide-ranging!

Anyway, unlike detached chain, I found the Cretan stitch rather inspiring of varied treatments. My mind was just turning over on the various things you could do with it.

First off, I looked at it, and thought, “Chinese temple?” If you look at the shape of a Chinese temple, it’s like a Cretan stitch that grows a little larger with each level. So I tried to produce that, using a variegated green floss that seemed to connect with the serene ideal that I associate with Chinese religion.
(that very first example is simply my attempt to make sure I knew how to DO Cretan stitch; I had to go look it up in the stitch dictionary to be sure)

I think that this stitch has distinct possibilities for expressing this kind of shape and picture. I really liked that one.

So then I went on and got some other possibilities in.

Here I tried to do one Cretan stitch on top of the other, in differing colors, obviously. During the first half, I put the yellow underneath the green, and then switched and layered it on top. It made an interestingly subtle difference as to which color was dominant. I wonder what would happen if I alternated them. (Pearl cotton 5)

Then I decided to try a plain, large, measured out evenly Cretan stitch and then layer on another stitch as the crazy quilt embellishers do. The choice of stitch was scroll stitched, which turned out to be a mistake, as I was working with the wrong kind of thread and/or material. The stitch dictionary even told me that — after I’d already started, of course. I still like the idea, but ended up not being sure of what other kind of stitch I wanted to put in.

Then I decided to try actually producing a flower shape, since Sharon indicated that that was possible in her examples. Unfortunately, her examples were not large enough for me to see how she achieved it clearly. So I kind of figured this out on my own, although I have no idea what kind of flower that it might resemble. That’s detached chain in the middle — I actually was inspired enough by the Cretan stitch to actually see a possibility for detached chain. Pretty cool!

Who knows when and where ideas will hit? These came to me in the middle of church! I just had to scribble them down before I forgot. The circle on the right is what led to the flower shape above. The long trail to the left is my realization between the figure 8 pattern that I sometimes see in quilting stitch designs in sane quilting, that I also see in similar shapes in the fluid curves of medieval Arabic designs. In the middle, you can see the diamond shape (opposing fly stitches?) and detached chain stitch which could also recreated this same design, but nowhere near so fluidly as the double-layered Cretan stitch.

One of the comments on my previous examples kind of opened my mind to the relationship between buttonhole and fly stitch and detached chain, and I realized that Cretan stitch is a near relation as well; it’s amazing how something as small as the direction of a stitch will change the entire look of it. But then insights like that are why I decided to get involved in this challenge.

Now I have to go do my homework related to the sane quilting class I am taking, so I don’t how soon I’ll get to the chevron stitch. I’ll only say that the squared examples that Sharon showed really made me think of quilt blocks. Geometric patterns, you know?

I’ve suddenly realized, I should tell you that if you want to see the stitches in larger sizes, you can find me in the flickr group.