Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Monday, February 28, 2011

More Scarves

I’ve made a few more scarves this winter. I really do love them, and they are quite practical here in Atlanta. Of course we wear them outdoors on the few really cold days of winter, but they also pair with a long sleeved tee in fall and early spring, when you don’t quite need a jacket. This one is another Tunisian Simple Stitch scarf.
It was actually supposed to be a shawl, but after a few dozen rows, I concluded that the pattern had an error and I was going to need four more skeins. This Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend  isn't all that expensive for the quality, but 8 skeins of it would have made the shawl too “spendy” as one of my friends would say.  The color of this multi yarn is called Stellar, and it has an amazing hand.
I also made another tunisian scarf just like one of the ones I showed you in this post. The Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter is 50% silk and 50% Kid Mohair and super soft. The best part is that one skein makes the scarf. This one ended up being a birthday gift. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Trivets to Table Runners

Whenever we visit family we have typical farmhouse meals with a half dozen hot side dishes. Each of these needs a trivet or hot pad to protect the table, making the five minutes before we sit down to eat a real scramble. It occurred to me that an insulated table runner would help the pre-dinner rush, and make a pretty table.
With that in mind, I set about designing a couple of table runners that matched two different sets of dishes we sometimes use.
Franciscan Apple at Aunt Pat's table
Franciscan Desert Rose at my mother-in-law's house
I picked two theme fabrics to tie to the dishes, and then others to coordinate.

The design for the table runner tops was quite straightforward, but I embellished the design by adding appliqué to extend the theme fabric elements beyond the lines of the blocks.

I further enhanced the runners by hand quilting ¼ inch from the seams and around the appliqué.

The batting in the quilt sandwich is Insul-bright, which provides an added layer of heat protection.

A set of coordinating napkins for each table runner completed the gifts, and will make table setting easy the next time we visit.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guernsey Scarf

Back in October Jared Flood, (also known as Brooklyn Tweed in yarn circles), released Shelter, an artisanal yarn with Wyoming grown wool from Targhee-Columbia sheep. It is spun in Harrisville, New Hampshire, a town with a long textile history.Knitch, was one of the few yarn shops to receive early shipments of the yarn, and since they are right around the corner from my house, I had to run right in and look. I was quite taken with the color names like Long Johns, Hayloft, and Homemade Jam.
I also was inspired by a pattern Jared designed for a Guernsey wrap.  I knew I wouldn’t wear a wool wrap, but I loved the texture in the design. Of course it was a pattern to knit, and I prefer to crochet as well, so I decided I needed to work out my own design for a crocheted scarf.  

I also was inspired by a pattern Jared designed for a Guernsey wrap.  Though I knew I wouldn't wear a wool wrap, I loved the texture in the design. Also, it was a pattern to knit, and I prefer to crochet, so I needed to work out my own design for a crocheted scarf.
The first version of the scarf was made from a couple of skeins of  Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherd's Wool that I already had. When I design on the fly, I tend to try different patterns, widths, etc. and rip them out until I’m satisfied. That can be tough on yarn, though I must admit the Shepherd’s Wool held up well.
The final design uses a mixture of grit stitch, and three post stitches: vertical ribs, cables and steps. In between each band I inserted horizontal ribs of rear loop single crochet. 

Once I was happy with the design, I wiped up another in the red “Long Johns” color of Shelter. No gifting here. I will wear both often.
To see some of Jared Flood's knit patterns Take a look at Made in Brooklyn or Knits Men Want.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Autumn - What a Long Strange Trip it's Been

A few years ago I bought a skein of yarn. It was probably at one of those lucky duck sales they have at my favorite yarn shop. You load up your basket and then pick a rubber duck out of the tub to see what discount you’ve won. Never thinking of any particular project at those things, I just pick a little of this and a little of that.
After returning home, the colors in this ball of yarn really started calling to me. It had blue, green, mauve, red, and gray with every shade in between, and got me thinking about little blocks of color marching along together. The ball of yarn was on my mind and whenever I saw a fat quarter that fit, I bought it. I hate to think what I’ve spent on this piece, just $2 at a time.
Eventually I had three times the fabric needed for a small wall hanging, so I cut little squares, laid them out on the dining room table and started stitching. My thought was that I would quilt an interesting abstract design, and then crochet a border from the yarn.
I even made a long chain and felted it in anticipation. Ultimately I decided the colors were too muted to enhance the wall hanging, but I love the nubby texture of this rope and I’m saving it for some yet to be revealed project.
After I assembled all the blocks I toyed with quilt ideas. First I thought I would stitch some space age flowers in silver and red metallic thread. In a word – yuck.
Next I took the piece to my computer sketch pad. How about the sun, the moon and the stars? Definitely not. 
After careful study, I was sure I saw an old gray barn sitting in Red Rock Canyon. I actually picked out all of the metallic flowers and stitched a good bit of this design before it too was abandoned. You can kind of see it though right?
Finally I did the right thing and put it on a shelf. A year passed. One day last fall I pulled it out and knew exactly what this piece wanted to be. It's all about autumn and falling leaves. I quickly sketched the bones of a tree, and cut out the appliqué from bits and pieces of brown fabrics I had sitting around the studio. 
Then I set up my machine to stitch a zillion little leaves. Some still clinging to summer green and more falling in drifts to the ground. Some swirls stand in for puffs of wind blowing the leaves, and there it is. 

For now it’s hanging on the window in my office to keep me company as I write. It’s kind of calling for companions though. I am put in mind of a favorite poem that might need to inspire a quilt...

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me. 
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?
.... by Richard LeGallienne

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wind That For You?

The other day I was thinking about the simple pleasure of sitting with another person winding a ball of yarn. I had been to Knitch, a great online yarn shop that happens to have their warehouse and shop around the corner from my house.  A favorite Aunt had a birthday coming up and I wanted to buy yarn for a scarf. After picking out a yummy skein of Artyarn’s Silk Rhapsody Glitter, Nell asked if I wanted it wound from a hank into a center pull ball. It’s a service that you only find in good yarn shops, and they have some amazing contraptions to do it quickly. Most folks are delighted I’m sure, but I always say no thanks.
Perhaps it’s just the memory from childhood of those special moments with Mom while I held the yarn stretched out between my two childish hands and she went round and round wrapping it into a ball. Like most of us who learned needlework from our mothers, it was moments like these that kindled the desire to learn. “What are you going to make mommy? Can I do it too?” And so it began.
There was always some little part of the project that needed an extra set of hands. “put you finger right here while I tie this knot.” Or maybe that was just Mom’s way of drawing me in and making me feel a part of the grown up ladies sitting around with their crewel, needlepoint and knitting.
My first lesson was on a French knitting spool I think. From there I graduated to knitting needles, and crochet hooks. At some point in high school I do remember my Mom lamenting that somehow her beautiful old woven embroidery case with wooden hoop, needles and floss had become mine. But that’s what passing on traditions is all about.
So when someone asks if I would like the yarn wound into a neat ball, I always say no. Not unless you are willing to sit across from me and enjoy a half hour of warm and relaxing chatter while I hold the yarn and you make a ball.