Thread Thoughts

The Nut Graf knits, sews and attempts other crafts

I’m back! August 15, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,Quilting,Sewing — chengat @ 9:03 pm

I have finally found the time to take photos, upload them and update you on my goings on. Since coming back from Stitches in late February, I had been working nearly full time (8 hrs a day, 4 days a week) at my former job, filling in while they looked for a permanent replacement. Initially it was only going to be 2-3 months, but it ended up lasting through mid-July. Then I got caught up with some summer programs with my son. Anyway, enough of the excuses. Through it all I was still knitting, just not blogging. Check out my Flickr files and Ravelry account (user ID: thenutgraf) to see photos and more details of my knitting/sewing stuff.

The two knitted items I have been happiest with were the Manos Four Seasons blanket bought from a kit from the Yarndogs booth at Stitches and the Glee top. I thought it would take a long time to make the blanket because I have a hard time completing rectangular objects (i.e. stoles, scarves, and other things that require long sections of repetitive knitting). But the switching of the various colors and stitches kept it interesting and I was able to complete it in just a few weeks. Even the seaming wasn’t bad.

Here’s the Glee top using Sheep Shop 3 yarn from my stash. The only changes I made were a little shaping around the waistline and shortening the slit of the neckline (joining the piece to work in the round shortly after the sleeves.)

Recently, though, I have been focusing on sewing. My mom was in a town for a few weeks and I decided to enlist her expert sewing skills to help me complete a few projects. Plus, I had been inspired by all the fabrics and projects I saw at this year’s Southern California Quilter’s Run, which I missed last year because I was moving. Here are some of the small projects, some pillow cases and a table runner:

The table runner was my mom’s selection of fabric and her first attempt at free-motion quilting. Great job I think. It’s nice to grow up with someone with such talent. I have fond memories of helping her with her sewing projects as a child, and now the tables have turned!

And she found this great peacock fabric (made by Hoffman California Fabrics purchased from Cozy Quilt Shop in El Cajon) and we just had to make something from it. So to show off the fabric, we chose a pattern from the book, 9-Patch Pizazz. We were debating over whether to have a teal blue inner border or beige-gold inner border. We decided on one, but I will reveal it later. Here are both versions as seen on my design mat:

I am busy with more sewing, trying to get some of my quilt tops done. Here’s one that’s been lying around for a while, the Aloha Carlsbad quilt:


New classes = new projects = more multitasking! February 21, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,Quilting — chengat @ 8:39 am

I have recently taken some classes to learn some new knitting and sewing skills, which means once again I have added to my ever-growing list of unfinished projects. But what fun projects they are.

I kicked off my new year of knitting with a great sock class given by Cat Bordhi and hosted by Common Threads in Encinitas, CA. Cat recently published a new book on socks called, New Pathways for Sock Knitters (Book One). If you ever have an opportunity to attend a class by Cat, I highly recommend you to jump on it. She’s entertaining and has a great way of explaining knitting techniques using lots of visuals and stories. Here she is demonstrating Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On. Notice all the charts and directions spread out on the floor in front of her:


Cat’s recent book shows new ways of looking at sock architectures, that is, the various parts that form a sock — the cuff, leg, heel, instep and toe. She shows how you can shape the sock by adding increases at the bottom of the foot, the side, or even spread out around the foot. In the book, you learn each new “architecture” by knitting a baby sock. Here are the baby socks I made for the Coriolis pattern (using Dream in Color’s worsted weight yarn in Dusky Aurora). Notice how the increases swirl around the arch of the foot in different directions on each foot:


The baby socks are followed by adult designs and a “master pattern” that you can just plug in your own numbers to knit with any yarn at any gauge for any size foot. That’s probably the hardest part, measuring your feet and gauge to get the right size. Here’s my first sock from her book, the Rushing Rivulet sock (using Claudia’s Handpainted in the Purple Dot colorway). I think I didn’t get an accurate gauge because it seems a bit large in the instep area.


The book’s instructions and illustrations are clear, written for DPNs, 2 circulars or Magic Loop. I especially liked Cat’s technique of right and left increases (La-Link and La-Rink), and she has the clearest and best instructions I’ve seen on how to pick up wrapped stitches when knitting short rows. Cat’s web site links to some You Tube videos showing some of these techniques, including the Magic Cast-On.

My second class this year was a class held at Sowing Sisters in Carlsbad, to make a wall hanging or quilt of batik elephants using the paper piecing method. This technique requires that you sew small pieces of fabric onto the paper pattern. You pin the fabric pieces to the back of the pattern, sew along the lines of the pattern and trim. It’s a great way to sew smaller, more complicated designs. It’s not difficult but does require a bit of concentration because the pieces are so small. These elephants measure about 4 1/2 inches square each. Here are my first three elephants and the batiks I am using:

elephant1.jpg elephant2.jpg

The elephants’ tails will be made of braided embroidery floss. The teacher used seed beads for eyes, but I think I will embroider the eyes instead because I am making a crib-sized quilt and don’t want any choking hazards. Here are some of the supplies I’m using: a cutting mat, a small rotary cutter, a quarter-inch ruler, flat pins and a fabric turner for the ears. To the left is the border fabric in black and the background fabric in cream.


I’m off to Stitches West tomorrow to take some more classes and add to my yarn and project stash. Hope to report on my adventures soon!


Last-minute gifts: Sewing December 8, 2007

Filed under: Quilting,Reviews — chengat @ 12:44 am

Wow. I hadn’t realized it’s been exactly a month since I’ve updated this blog. I was trying to finish knitting up some hats for my nieces and nephew, went out of town for Thanksgiving and then had to get a new logic board for my iMac (no charge thankfully).

So looking for some last minute gifts? Let’s turn to sewing, which usually takes less time than knitting the same item. Here are two books I bought a month or so ago, one to make gifts and the other could make a gift:
These are Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Midwest Modern, a coffee table book by Amy Butler.

Hoverson also wrote Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and owns Purl and Purl Patchwork, in New York City’s Soho district. Like LM Knitted Gifts, the projects are broken down by estimated time to complete: less than 2 hours, 2-4 hours, 4-8 hours, 8-12 hours and more than 12 hours. Projects range from pincushions and pillows, to large-sized quilts. Here are some of my favorites:

Color-wheel quilt, a striking wall hanging

(Sort of) Crazy Quilt, inspired by the quilters of Gee’s Bend and Denyse Schmidt
and Peanut, the wee elephant, designed by Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls fame. This looks like a good way to use up scrap fabric.

The book also includes chapters on color theory and quilting basics, although I wouldn’t use this as a reference on quilting as there are no how-to photos. Last Minute Knitted Gifts is one of my favorite knitting books, and this one will likely become one of my favorite sewing books too, alongside Denyse Schmidt’s Quilts and Amy Butler’s In Stitches. (P.S. I forgot to mention the book comes with full-size pattern templates that you can photocopy or trace) Grade: A

For those of you looking for sewing patterns, Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern may disappoint you. There are only two, for floor cushions and an envelope pillow. Instead, this book is more of a behind-the-scenes peek at Butler’s designs and aesthetics. For example, here’s a photo of her workroom
And here are some of her sketches: ab1.jpg

Many of the photos of Butler’s projects used in the book can be found on her web site, but there are also some shots of her garden and other places where she finds inspiration. The photos, taken by her husband, are beautiful and there are tons of them. This book is eye candy for the hard-core Amy Butler fan. Grade: B+

I’ll end this entry with a quotation from Butler’s book: “I wanted this book to inspire you — not to look at my life and work in awe, but to see how simple and approachable a creative life is. It’s not about adding layers to our life, but about stripping away obstacles. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles any of us can face….Don’t allow your fears and anxieties to overshadow your passions.”


Too many threads, so little time… July 24, 2007

Filed under: Quilting — chengat @ 5:12 am

I’ve sewn clothes and knit a few baby blankets, but I prefer to knit garments and sew quilts.
About this time last year, when it became too unbearably hot to knit, I decided to revisit my sewing machine to learn to quilt. It’s a great way to play with colors and patterns in a way that I don’t like doing with knitted garments.
Here is my first quilt, a baby blanket for my son, who was born in the year of the monkey (and I love sock monkeys). It’s a free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop:
Here’s the matching wall hanging (machine appliqued):
Then came this one, a lap quilt for my husband, who likes to fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV (blue shot cotton by Kaffe Fassett, patterned fabric by Amy Butler, using “Hop Skip & A Jump” pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s book) This was also my first time doing free-motion quilting:
Hop Skip Jump - front
I made a quilt called “China Palace Quilt” for my mom on Mother’s Day featuring Chinese-themed prints of children, horses and peonies (my mom was born in the year of the horse and is an avid gardener). The colors work very well in emphasizing the theme of the quilt. I gave it away before taking a photo, but here’s a picture of the pattern from McCall’s Quilting magazine:
My latest one was a baby blanket and matching pillow for our newest nephew. He just turned one, so I wanted to make something that he could grow into. I’m calling it “Circles and Squares” because all the patterned fabrics have circular motifs and the overall pattern is called Bento Box:
Gabriel’s Quilt
In the works: I’m piecing a “Turning 20” quilt for my brother, for his upcoming birthday (although at this rate it will be very much belated); and also have almost finished piecing the top of a surfing/beach print quilt for my son’s playroom/guest room. I also plan to make the Flora quilt (pattern by Valorie Wells, kit from Sowing Sisters) and Kaffe Fassett “Rice Bowls” quilt (from his Passionate Patchwork book, using his shot cottons and some Amy Butler fabrics for the bowls). Here’s the photo of it from the book (Doesn’t this look like Andy Warhol with an Asian motif? I love it and it’s so ME!):
Rice Bowls
And l’m also trying to find a pattern to use these summer-themed fabrics by Heather Ross:
Well, at least my fabric stash takes up less space than my yarn stash!