Since my last journal post, I finished the Tunisian-crochet shawl that I was working on, and set to work on two new projects that I am pretty excited about. Actually everything I am going to talk about today will probably eventually get its own pattern post, but in the meantime I want to share what I’ve been up to.
First, the shawl: this is another project from my big box o’ random yarns. I had three variegated yarns that more or less coordinated and more or less formed a nice gradient from light multi to dark reds (see photo). For the curious, this is Premier Yarns/Deborah Norville Serenity sock weight in “saffron”, “paprika”, and “purple spice”. I also had, not pictured, some of the same brand’s solid-color yarns, including “soft white” and burgundy. I also had a ginormous Afghan hook, although it turned out not to be long enough—I started with a 9″ J hook and replaced it halfway through with a 13″ J hook. My last real journal post talks about how I constructed it; the colors ended up working out such that the last variegated yarn gave out just at the end of a TSS section, which was convenient. I edged it with the burgundy yarn: a row of single crochet and then a row of double crochet shells worked on an H hook. I blocked it to stop it curling, and got an extra 10″ of wingspan out of it. Photos:
Because so very much yarn went into its construction—because of how thick and fluffy Tunisian crochet is, even when you go up several hook sizes—this beast is quite warm and snuggly; I am looking forward to the coming cooler months to wear it.
As soon as I put the shawl out to block, I set in on my next Tunisian crochet adventure, a pair of mitts, even though I still have another pair of mitts stalled on needles. This was inspired by a honeycomb section of the shawl where the multi yarn happened to line up such that several rows had orange/pink for the posts and green/blue for the back chain, which I thought was just the most beautiful thing. I wanted to recreate this effect in a more deliberate way—using one dark color for all of the posts in a piece and a different, variegated color for all the back chains. This requires working in the round, I believe, which requires a double-ended, proper Tunisian style crochet hook. I had one on hand in size H.
The yarns are two that I had on hand, (you guessed it!) more serenity sock weight yarn, this time a solid purple and the “teal tease” multi left over from my first pair of knit socks. I think if I were to start again, and start from the yarn store rather than my stash, I would choose a darker solid, either black or a dark grey, and a brighter multi. Part of the inspiration for this project was the stained-glass-like effect you get from framing bright colors in dark, and that is not really coming through in the project. I do really like the sections where the backing yarn is the bright teal, though.
Finally, I have a sewing project I am super excited about. Like, received the fabric on Monday, halfway done with a (lap-sized) quilt by Friday excited. I have been taking a break from the Great Five Shirts Project, so this gets to be the project to break in my new sewing machine.
I don’t know how many of you will be familiar with the Bargello quilting style—if you’re not, do an image search right now. A friend of mine mentioned these to me a while ago and I am a little obsessed. Like, break my post-queen-sized-fully-handstitched-scrap-quilt moratorium obsessed. Like, throw my ethic of “all quilts should be scrap quilts” out the window. The style is so beautiful, and the execution is so clever, that I had to try it myself.
The bargello quilt starts with a bunch of strips of coordinating colors, so I picked up a half jelly roll—turns out you can get Bali Batik half rolls for $15 from amazon, in a whole range of colors. I picked up a green one that doesn’t seem to be available any more. I got 20 strips, each 44″ or longer and 2.5″ wide, in ten distinct batik patterns, shown at right. Step 1 was to sew them together, lengthwise, in some sort of coherent way; I arranged them in a gradient from light to dark of the yellowish greens and then from dark to light of the bluish, then repeating. You actually sew them together completely, into a tube, and then to make the flat quilt you unpick some of the seams.
The second step is planning the cutting and construction: all basic Bargello quilts start the same way (although there are variations that don’t), but the next step is tricky. The sewn-together tube is cut into strips, crosswise to the original strips, of varying widths, and then sewn together at an offset, creating steps. The widths determine what the pattern will be. I needed a way to mock up the quilt and decide on the widths; I decided to do this in Octave (free knockoff of matlab), which I am fluent in and which has decent graphics capability. It’s a very small piece of code—I gave it a set of colors, and set the widths manually, and it plots a bunch of rectangles of those colors and widths, and warns me if my widths would exceed the total fabric width. After many iterations of adjusting the widths, I settled on one I like, shown above.
I’ve done the cutting and started the re-assembly process; at right is a photo of the semi-exploded quilt top. Some of the strips at the center are sewn together. The next step is sewing the rest of the strips together; then I will need to sort out batting, edging and backing, and try out the quilting foot that came with my sewing machine. The final piece will be about 36″ by 40″, plus whatever border happens, so definitely a lap quilt or display piece.