Saturday, June 25, 2016

Seed Stitch Socks

I finished another pair of socks. These have been on the needles since late February. I finished the first sock really fast and then got half way through the second sock when I noticed I had been knitting the pattern on the sole of the foot. I had to rip it out and start again. I also was working on another pair of socks at the same time, so that's why this finish is so long in coming. They are another finish on my second quarter Finish-A-Long list.

I am happy with the way they turned out and the fit is perfect. I picked this yarn because it reminded me of the colors in denim fabrics.

Martha wanted to be in the photo, too.

As per my usual habit, I used the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern to get a nice fit through the heels.
I think these socks will be well worn this fall when the temperatures get a bit cooler.

Sock Stats:
Pattern: My Own Seed Stitch variation
              Fish Lips Kiss Heel 
Yarn: Sweet Fiber Indigo Dreams 80% Superwash Merino/20% Nylon
Needles: Addi Turbo Sock Rockets 16" Circular Needles US size 1 (2.5mm)

2016 FAL

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bow Tie Baby Quilt

Last month I decided to do a really good clean up of my sewing room. I went through every bin and box and found all sorts of things that I had forgotten about.
One of the work in progress projects I found was an art quilt my son had started about 10 years ago. He was going to make a quilt based on a photo of the Charles Bridge in Prague. He had gotten as far as making the sky and then lost interest in making the project.
Fast forward ten years when I found the wavy pieced sky of neutral fabrics. I chopped it up into 6.5" squares then added corners to each block with fabrics pulled from the scrap bin.

I used this Mendocino print for the backing.

I quilted it with a serpentine stitch on the diagonal, adding soft waves and texture to the quilt. 
Adding a scrappy binding made from remnants of bindings from other quilts makes this a truly scrappy quilt.

I'm glad someone snapped this photo last night at our LA Modern Quilt Guild meeting, because it's the only photo of the finished quilt that I have. I donated this quilt to a local charity for homeless new moms.

Quilt Stats:

Pattern: Scrappy Bow Tie
Fabric: all scraps 
Batting: Warm and White
Backing: Heather Ross Mendocino Swim Class in Orange
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50wt. 
Quilting: by me on the Bernina 820 using Connecting Threads Essential 40 wt. Light Grey
Size: 36" x 48"

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.
Scraptastic Tuesday

Monday, June 6, 2016

These Socks Took Forever To Make

When I added this pair of socks to my second quarter Finish-A-Long list I never dreamed it would take me this long to finish one sock. But, circumstances in my crazy life and lack of interest in getting them done has taken until now to finish. 
Part of the problem was that the pattern changes every row, which is very easy to follow, but was hard for me to memorize, making it a chore to read line by line. I was a bit lazy and started another pair of socks to be taken as my travel project and then it took a while to get back to these {By the way, I still have not finished that other pair either}.
I am so glad I finished them. The yarn is so soft and squishy and the pattern is beautiful. They are going to be my favorite socks, when the weather cools off.

This is a top down pattern, which is more of a challenge for me. But, I think it does my brain good to be challenged and do things in a different manner. They also used the slip stitch heel method instead of the Fish Lips Kiss Heel that I have memorized.

I bought the yarn from Citizens of Textile but I think Heather is operating under House of A La Mode Fiber Goods now. The yarn is a little finer weight than I am used to, making the socks very luxurious and soft.

The color of the yarn is somewhere between the upper photos and the collage below. I guess it depends of the lighting where I made the pictures.
You can see the details of the pattern. I love the way the ribbing on a top down sock looks finished and not wobbly.  I need to work on my kitchener stitch for finishing the toe, but I am getting the hang of it, finally! And that heel detail is just so pretty.
Martha decided to photo bomb my photo session. But who can resist those eyes and that sweet face?

Sock Stats:

Pattern: My Cup of Tea by Robin Lynn
Needles:Signature Needle Arts 5" Double Point Needles US size 1, 2.5 mm

2016 FAL

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Quilt for Jakub

A few years ago I met members of my family, on my dad's side, who live in Slovakia. There was a whole clan of family that I figured must live there but never knew about. When trying to research my geneology I found them by shear luck. We visited them in Slovakia in 2012 and Jozef and his wife, Andrea came to visit us two years ago.

We were happy to learn that they were expecting a baby and I immediately started thinking about what quilt I wanted to make them.
I was immediately attracted to two beautiful log cabin quilts in blue that I had seen on Instagram. Giuseppe and Amber both made beautiful quilts, so I figured why ruin a good thing. I made a log cabin quilt in navy, aqua and low volume prints.

We took the quilt to Irvine Ranch Estate Historical Park to photograph it. I was so disappointed when we arrived and most of the buildings were walled off with chain link fencing for reconstruction. There is a fabulous old red barn there that I was planning on using as the backdrop.
I did see this old tractor with it's rusted wheels. 
edited with Snapseed and Brushstroke apps

This old dilapidated house added some texture to the photo.

The quilt is made from various strips ranging from 2.5"-3.5" wide. I had a great time pulling fabrics for the quilt and arranging them to make a cohesive quilt. I wanted it to be a rather large baby quilt, one that would grow with the baby and maybe take him through the pre-school years.

When it came time to quilt this piece I wanted it to be soft and cuddly for the baby so I just did random wavy lines anywhere from 1/2"-2" apart. The quilting is also very improvisational and added a nice dimension to the piece.

To give the quilt a fun jolt on the back I used the cardinal print from a line of Charlie Harper fabrics that I have been hoarding.

When it came time to bind the quilt I was a little stumped and didn't know what to do. I thought using one color might be too stark and distract from the quilt so I used a grey dot on the low volume side and a navy solid on the blue side. I think that was the best way to finish this quilt.

I'll be packing this up and shipping it off to Slovakia this week. I sure hope it arrives safely and baby Jakub will get many years of snuggles with this quilt.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Improv Log Cabin
Fabrics: Blues and Low Volume from Stash
Backing: Charlie Harper Staggered Cardinals from Birch Fabrics
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt.
Quilted by me on my Bernina 820 with Connecting Threads Essential 40 wt. in Ivory
Binding: Kaufman Greenwich in Navy and Summertime Dot in Grey
Size:56" x 58"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Gardening Update

I haven't done a gardening update in quite some time. To be honest, last year's summer garden was such a disappointment, I wasn't sure if we wanted to put in the effort and expense into another drought riddled garden. I do love the satisfaction of growing my own food. I enjoy the time outside and it's good for my mind and spirit to get my hands dirty.
We had the best winter garden we have ever had. We harvested cabbages galore. I made sauerkraut and we are still eating it. The citrus trees never disappoint. Our lemons, limes and mandarins were outstanding. We are still enjoying the carrots and herbs.
The artichokes were a little on the tough side so we have let the remainder of them go to the flowering stage. This one is going to be a beauty. It's about seven inches across at the base. I can't wait for it's purple flower to emerge.

If this season is like seasons in the past we will have a bumper crop of figs. I hope I can find some new fig recipes. I'll be searching Pinterest for new to me recipes. 

The tomatoes have started setting down fruits. This Big Zac tomato can yield fruits as large as 6-8 pounds! If I get one that big I will have a party! I can't imagine being that lucky to grow that big of a tomato.

This Black Seaman Russian tomato is a new variety for us. It is a medium sized black purple tomato.

This Italian Red Pear tomato was recommended by my nursery man. He said it never disappoints. I hope he's right. 

The super sweet mini red tomato will be a hit with the grandkids. They usually never make it all the way into the house because the grandkids eat them fresh off the vine.

All the squash plants are doing well. We have several varieties of squash planted including my favorite Romanesco Zucchini.

We are trying something new to us this year, Straw Bale Gardening. The bales got off to a slow start, I think because of our lack of rain. All it takes to condition the straw is water and blood meal. The recommended conditioning time is two weeks. But mine have taken closer to four weeks. They finally look like good composted soil. For a while I thought all I was going to be able to grow was grass and mushrooms. 
The first round of seeds I planted in the bales did not sprout very well. Only a few cucumbers germinated but none of the squash, pumpkins or watermelons did. So I planted again and I am waiting for the seeds to sprout. 
I did go out and buy new pumpkins, cucumbers and watermelons to plant in the bales. This time I bought little plantings since they are getting a later start. 
Our weather has been rather cool so the beans have not popped yet. 
I'll be doing another update in a few weeks and hopefully there will be lots more growing in the garden.

I planted some petunias in the bales and they are doing great. They help to take away from the ugly bales until things get growing a little more.

There are a few blockades up around the bales to keep Martha from eating the dirt and blood meal.

She's so darn cute, but I can't let her eat the fertilizer!

We have put several weekends into getting things started and hopefully we will have a bumper crop of fruits and vegetables this summer. Living in Zone 10 has its challenges but we are ready for them and have installed a drip watering system in the bales, carefully check for pesky insects and are keeping an eye out for the rats. So far there is one rat that we are trying to catch or poison...whichever comes first.