Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Making Socks

Since my foray into crochet last year, knitting was a natural progression. However I have enough scarves and beanies so decided to go for the next most useful thing socks. I know a beginner knitter rarely starts with socks but in my opinion it was the most useful thing to make. Something that I would use regularly.

I began to look into how to knit socks and what was the simplest way to knit up a pair of socks. I inquired from sock knitters at the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild and Jaci Bartol pointed me to the book Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy Johnson. I would not say this was the easiest read but I stuck to the simple sock pattern. 

For the supplies I got some expert help from my local yarn shop Tea Cozy Yarn. Jean is extremely helpful and set me up with some Addi Rockets in size 2mm and 1mm. She recommended that I start with 2mm circular needles and once I am comfortable for the next pair switch over to 1mm circular needles. I picked Perfect Pair Regia sock yarn by Arne and Carlos for my first pair. I must say it was not the perfect pair of socks but wearable and I loved them.

After the success of the first pair I decided to make a second one. This time I felt brave enough to use the 1mm circular needle and try making two socks at the same time so that I have two socks the exact same size. I picked this lovely aubergine hand dyed yarn from Tea Cozy Yarn. The advantage of having a LQS a short walk away. It felt absolutely luxurious. This time I decided to add a bit of texture to the sock and followed a diamond pattern.

I absolutely love this pair. Purple is my favorite color and I seemed to have embraced it more in yarn than I ever did with quilts. With this pair done I decided it was time to up my game a little more and quickly started on the next pair, cable socks this time. Once again Jean hooked me up with a cable needle and I see cable socks in my near future.

Operation sock drawer is in the works for 2018. Maybe it is time to upgrade my skills and knit a cardigan perhaps. I would love one in ochre.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Boxed In

I started this quilt 3 years ago at a Seattle MQG quilting retreat. I had a pile of Cotton & Steel basics on one hand and a stack of packing paper from my recent move to Seattle on the other. My sewing room was filled with boxes and I felt trapped in it when I sat at my sewing machine. Such little space and so many things to fit into the tiny room. It was quite a discomfort to downsize drastically from our sprawling residence in NJ. It was as if the walls were closing in on me. I poured this feeling on paper and came up with a variant on the log cabin called "Boxed In"

Like all quilts it's beginnings were very humble. The first time I drew a schematic and picked a few colors from the stack and got started.

Each block took me about 5 to 6 hours from start to finish. Since I was making it up as I went along it took me a long time to get things just right. Many a time I had to go back and rework the template. 

Progress was slow. I did not have enough wall space to see how the quilt was progressing. 

I would take it to retreats as the only project to work on in an attempt to finish it, but it took so long to make each block that I returned from a few retreats without completing it.

At one such retreat, Debbie from A Quilter's Table took a picture of me knee deep into it.

At one point I thought I was almost done with the 3x3 configuration but something about the proportion of the quilt did not sit right with me. I decided to add one more row. As it got larger, piecing the blocks together got increasingly difficult. The thin lines would not stay straight and I had to redo the seams a few times. I had to glue multiple pieces of paper together for the multi block template. Not an easy task in a small sewing area.

Putting all the blocks together was perhaps the hardest thing for me. I had to try a few times before it all lay flat. 

Once I was done piecing I had hoped to quilt it such that the lines echoed the block design. Having spent my energy on the piecing, I struggled to muster up enthusiasm to quilt it. This is when I turned to my dear friend and fellow quilter Krishma Patel. I conveyed my overall plan but mostly left it to her. This is a progress picture she sent me and I could not contain my excitement. I knew I had made the right choice by sending it to her.

Finally it arrived at my door step. I faced it, this has become my go to binding method these days. Waited for a clear day to take some pictures and here it is.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Learning to Crochet - VI

This is the last post in my series. I guess at this point I have quite a bit of crochet under my belt and even though I am still a beginner certainly not a novice.

Where next? Sweaters, socks, shawls, afghans. Endless choices. 
Also now I feel equipped enough to buy more luxurious wool yarn for my projects.

Just like designer fabric there is a ton of designer yarn available.
Some of my favorites are:

On the other end of the spectrum is crocheted lace. I ordered a set of finer crochet hooks.

I perhaps need to invest in a pair of magnifying lenses before I tackle that. :)

Then there are variations on crochet tatting, u-pin. And of course knitting!
For now I am content with quilting with crochet on the side.

Hopefully you found the posts informational and can perhaps help you pick up a new hobby. Let me know if you have questions or need more details on anything, would be willing to help.

To sign off, here is some extreme crocheting. I chanced upon the work of Jo Hamilton at the Seattle Art Fair. I was absolutely blown away and had never seen anything like it.

And then there is the work of Susanna Bauer. Crocheted magnolia leaves, stones and wood. Amazing stuff.

And then there are some crochet installations by Joana Vasconcelos. I have not seen any of her works in person, but would love to.