Comet Quilt – II

I’m progressing – I haven’t begun sewing yet – I’ve spent the past three days walking around the panel arrayed on my floor, moving a block here, changing a block there.

This morning I removed 8 HST with the bright blue with dots and remade them using some Stonehenge fabric (in dark blue and teal tones) which I bought yesterday. Then I placed them into the array. They register as medium in colour supporting the “bright” centre of the panel.

Comet panel – Laid out

The “squareness” of it is now more or less gone. I have the light moving toward the bottom left corner. The adjacent panels will continue that colour movement. I’m now ready to assemble these rows.

In the meantime I’ve begun laying out segments to fit around this piece which bring elements of the medium and darker blue shades into mostly background strips and blocks. I have sewn a portion of one of the side panels and lain out two others. These pieces become constructed, more and more, from the background Sparkle fabric, until finally the borders just use background (fingers crossed I actually have enough – I ordered another yard yesterday just in case because I have a suspicion I will need more than I have).

Side Panels Under Construction

I finally have a handle on the ratio I’m working with. My quilt will turn out 78% of the original (that’s because I changed 4 1/2″ blocks to 3 1/2″). Knowing that ratio now lets me construct the panels elements and borders which I intend doing after I sew the main centre panel together.

That’s for tomorrow.

Comet Quilt

I’d seen a photo of the Comet Quilt some time ago and thought it would be fun to try creating something like that – a light centre against a dark background. I went through my fabric stash and pulled out a pile of light batiks, a bunch of medium, and a few dark.

I was wondering what to actually use as the dark background fabric when I happened upon the Moda (Ruby Star Society) Comet Quilt pattern.

The Comet Quilt (Moda)

I discovered the actual background fabric used in the quilt and was able to find some online so I ordered 2 yards.

And then the fabric pile sat there while I worked on the three Skyline quilts. I was intending to work on a wall art piece next but the fabric pile started calling to me – I looked at the Moda pattern to get an idea of how I wanted to work on this. I wanted a throw size (~50″ x 70″) – quite a bit smaller than the pattern was describing. So I had a couple of choices – fewer blocks, or smaller ones. I decided to duplicate the 18 x 23 blocks using 3 1/2″ half-square triangles (finished size 3″).

This is where the whole process becomes quite complicated. I’m using a set of my own fabrics (not those in the pattern) so as I read through the pattern to guesstimate of how many HST I would need I realized I was not going to be able to manage any kind of match-up to the blocks in the pattern. I cut the same number of light blocks, medium blocks, dark blocks. I matched up some light/light light/medium, light dark, medium/dark, dark/dark combinations, marked the stitching lines, sewed the blocks, cut them apart into HST, pressed them, and trimmed them carefully to 3 1/2″.

Then I cleared a space on my studio floor and began laying them out:

The Comet Quilt (Moda)

I put the Moda instructions with photos aside and just played with the blocks trying to create the “startburst” for the quilt centre.

I’ve been taking photos, moving blocks around, taking more photos, moving more blocks. this is where I am at the moment – the central 11 x 11 block centre panel. I’m sure when I see this tomorrow morning in the daylight I’ll move blocks again.

In some ways this improvisation is easier than trying to follow the pattern layout! I can just make decisions based on the blocks I have and see how the panel turns out.

What’s obvious is that my “medium” colour tones are brighter than the fabrics used for the original. So my quilt, overall, will be brighter than the Moda original.

Once I’m satisfied with a layout for this panel, I will sew the blocks together, first into rows, then stitch the rows. I have to do that, because I will need to plan the outer panels based on the size this panel works out to be. The Moda pattern will give me an idea about how I will want to use my dark/background HST squares but I can’t cut my background fabric yet because I don’t know the size required for the remaining elements!

That’s just what it’s like when you improvise.

Katie’s Socks

 

Katie’s Socks

Finished this pair of socks last evening – socks for a friend’s daughter. Smaller than I usually make I hope they fit her. I like the rust coloured stripe that occurs both I the purple and the turquoise sections. That, and the darker blue elements give this yarn a nice lively look.

Now on to the next pair.

A Visit To Mahone Bay

Wednesday past was a glorious day – Remembrance Day. My friend Mary Ann and I decided to spend the day visiting Mahone Bay (to have lunch, visit Have A Yarn Wool Shop (if it was open), and to pick up a piece of used furniture she had seen on Kijiji,).

The day started off with dense fog here in Halifax but by the time we reached Chester the sky was clearing and in Mahone Bay it was sunny and warm – like 20°C warm.

We had lunch outdoors at The Biscuit Eater – mild enough to be without jackets. Then visited Have A Yarn – and of course I came home with a couple of balls of Sisu solid yarns (to fill in missing shades from my stash). We picked up the old table Mary Ann wanted.

Then on our way back to the highway we stopped at Heidi Wulfraat’s Woolworks shop.

Just one section of  the Kaffe Fassett Fabrics – colour sorted

She has some interesting yarns but her collection of Kaffe Fassett/Free Spirit Fabrics (the most complete in the province) is to drool over. The fabric collection is small compared to the quantity of bolts you’d see at Avonport Discount Fabrics (the other must go to fabric spot in Nova Scotia) but this is just about the complete collection of Free Spirit fabrics.

The collection is a lovely quality of quilting cotton. The prints, both large and small scale) are compelling. I spent quite a long time looking through each shelf. It was so tempting to pick out bolts but I already have one drawer in my stash with Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs fabrics – I couldn’t make any decisions. In the end I did come home with a 21 piece fat quarter bundle to add to what I already have.

It’s one thing to go shopping with a quilt idea in my head – quite another to walk into a riot of colour like this and make any decisions! I had the same experience in New York in 2012 at the button warehouse we visited. I walked up and down the isles of buttons unable to pick out anything – what size? what colour? what quantity? Buttons are something you pick out after you have selected the fabrics and made decisions about what you’re making. A tailored shirt needs 11 small buttons, a wool jacket might look good with 5 large bright ones…. It’s the same with quilting fabric – do I want some fat quarters, half yards, full yard cuts? Or am I looking for a specific backing in which case I will need 2 metres. I just don’t know.

So I added some fat quarters to my collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics:

My Collection of Kaffe Fassett Fabrics

Now I just need to think about what to make with them…. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

“Ugly” Socks Finished

Completed these socks a couple of days ago. They turned out not badly. After I finished turning the heel turned I decided to continue with the single yarn until I was midway through the foot when I decided to add a couple of contrast rows to connect the foot to the leg.

Multi-colour Socks

I know the recipient will be happy to have them. They’ll keep her smallish feet warm!

Invisible Join For Knitting In The Round

I have a friend who’s picked up sock knitting again after many years. I was describing to her how I set up the casting on. I decided I might as well share that information:

Invisible join when casting on
for knitting in the round

There are lots of ways of casting on for knitting in the round – as I was checking out YouTube videos I didn’t quickly find one that does it in the same way I do, so here is my method:

Casting On

I use two needles held together in my right hand and cast on over both needles.

I cast on all the stitches (usually 64 stitches for a women’s sock) on both needles.

When I have the required number of stitches, I add one more stitch (you’ll see later why I do that).

Stitches Cast On Over Two Needles

Next I carefully pull one needle out of the stitches – now I have the required number of stitches (plus one) on a single needle that are somewhat loose and much easier to knit into for the first row.

Stitches On One Needle

Invisible Join

Here’s how I set up to knit in the round – I use double pointed needles because I find them easier than having to continually slide stitches along on a circular needle (when you can find one short enough for sock knitting).

With 64 stitches, I slip 8 stitches onto the first dp needle; 

First 8 Stitches Slipped To New Needle

I slip 16 stitches onto the second; I slip 16 stitches onto the third, I slip 16 stitches onto the fourth – that leaves me 9 stitches on my last (original cast on) needle.

Stitches Now On All Needles

I bring the two end needles with the 9 stitches (on the right) and 8 stitches (on the left) together, making sure I don’t twist the casting on, knit the first stitch on the left hand needle,

Knit First Stitch

slip what was the end stitch on the first needle (that is the extra stitch you added when casting on) over the first knit stitch – that secures the join.

Extra Stitch Slipped Over First Knit Stitch

Continue knitting – knit one more stitch (you’ve already knit the first stitch when making the join), purl 2, knit 2, purl 2…. What you’ve done is make the join in the middle of a needle – much easier to handle than trying to make the join between two needles.

Remaining 8 Stitches Knit On First Needle

[When you finish knitting that first needle you will have 8 unknit stitches (on the right) and 8 knit stitches (on the left) on one needle with the join in the centre.]

The nice thing about making that join in the centre is that it’s much easier to handle in the next couple of rows than trying to make that join between two needles.

BTW

If you happen to be working with a different number of stitches – I often start with 68 or 72, then I’m not going to have the same number of stitches on each needle – for 68 – I put 8 stitches on the first needle, 20 on the second, 16 on the third, 16 on the fourth, and I’m left with 9 on the last needle. For 72 stitches I distribute them 8, 20, 16, 20, 9. The reason for doing it this way is that those numbers are divisible by 4 which means I can K2 P2 and end up without knitting that pattern over two needles – the K2 P2 pattern fits on each needle.

Once I’ve finished the cuff, then I redistribute the stitches so that I have the same number on each needle – with 68 stitches I have 17 on each needle; with 72 stitches I end up with 18 on each needle. In both of those cases I knit ~25 rows, then decrease one stitch on each needle (and with 72 I decrease one stitch on each needle again at ~ row 40 of the leg) to end up with an ankle that has 64 stitches. When the leg is long enough (I generally knit 80 rows) I knit the heel flap, turn the heel, pick up the gusset stitches, begin knitting in the round again decreasing for the gusset, then knit the foot, rounding off the toe.

Here’s a link to my generic sock pattern if you want more details.

YouTube Videos On Making An Invisible Join

Here are a bunch of YouTube videos which show variations on the technique.

Only one casts her stitches on over double needles and then only on a single needle, many are knitting with circular needles, but you’ll see how the technique makes the join and be able to adapt it for yourself.

Using DP needles

https://youtu.be/rrfSQNgROpM

https://youtu.be/svCAFOhq6SY

Slipping end stitch with an extra stitch using a circular needle

https://youtu.be/idghalAiuZQ

https://youtu.be/S-Wbay5fROg

https://youtu.be/wHaQyK-2kJo

https://youtu.be/fbvOEotpOlA

Switching end stitches using circular needle

https://youtu.be/9xsPlcPp_tw

Socks Restored

Finished restoring these two pair of socks last night.

They were holdovers from a batch I restored well over a year ago. After replacing heels in a half-dozen pair of socks I’d had enough. This pair, however, although I had set up for new heels – I’d run a stitch-holding thread where the heel began and though the instep, cut out the worn heel – I put them aside.

Socks Renovated!

Marlene’s birthday is at the end of the month. I thought it time to repair these two pair of socks and give them back to her. These were two of the original Kaffe Fassett yarns I’d bought a long time ago. The original heels used the rust/brown yarn but I had none in my stash and couldn’t find any in town so I matched up the dark blue, instead. Works fine.

Both pairs look like new socks. They should each get another couple years of wear.

Putting Words To How I Feel…

Yesterday I got to the point where I could verbalize how I was feeling: disappointed and let down. Then my sister Donna sent me a link to Frank Bruni’s piece in the NYT:

Photo From The NYT

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t….

Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

Read the complete article yourself – he wrote it a week or so before the election, I wonder what he’s got to say now. I will keep an eye out for his next article.

How Maps Deceive

When I look at the current election map of the US I am mystified by the enormous red expanse. I’m supposed to believe that the US is almost entirely Republican:

Normal Vote Representation by State

And then I came across this map showing population density – now the election results make some sense! People in the US are clustered on the coasts and in a few central locations – and the vote distribution is clearly more equal:

Vote Map By Population Density

I came across the map in a tweet by Sarah Cooper and then tried to find out more.

“Land doesn’t vote. People do”

Here is the visualization by data scientist Karim Douieb:

Data scientist Karim Douïeb figured that a more accurate way to represent how people voted is to use colored dots, varied in size proportionally to the population of each county. He turned the results into this GIF, which provides a clearer picture:

Pretty eye-opening, no? And yet, while this is clearly an improvement over the ham-fisted method of the first map in this entry, even this is not quite accurate. Within each of those large blue dots, you still have plenty of people who voted red, and vice versa. These results only show you which party won the vote in each region.

What do you think we’d see, if these data represented actual individual votes and we could zoom in on each one? The country is now more divided than ever, and just about evenly split. So all I’m certain of is that zooming out, we’d see a perfect shade of purple.

I guess it’s important to think more deeply about the mundane.

The Day After…

A Gloriously Sunny Day

A gloriously sunny day, if cold, and I feel profoundly disappointed. Sad so many people chose the path they did. Last time wasn’t a fluke – just a harbinger of things to come. Yes, I know populism is spreading globally, but I’d hoped the folks in the US would see possibility in voting for the ideals expressed in their constitution. I guess they understand it very differently than I do.

People will continue carrying on – grocery shopping, visiting the dentist, managing in whatever ways they are managing in the middle of the pandemic. The stock market will go down and then up and then down again. This snow on the ground will melt tomorrow – the temperature is predicted to reach 12° during the day. Fall will march on, I have an appointment to put my snow tires on at the end of the month. Winter will come and go. Life goes on.

I don’t feel like sewing today. Maybe back to the mystery novel, maybe take a morning nap.

4:12 pm

After some conversation (and a few tears) I can now describe my feelings: profoundly disappointed and LET DOWN.

For more than 4 years I’ve invested huge emotional energy being informed and trying to understand American political happenings even though it’s not my country, and I don’t have a vote, but I have friends living in the US who were doing their damndest fighting for social justice for everyone.

I feel let down by all those women, LGBT, Black, Latino, other vulnerable people (who ought to have voted Democrat but obviously didn’t) whose social, financial, and health prospects will now be severely diminished because they supported the Republican ticket maybe even electing trump and returning a Republican senate which (if Biden/Harris are elected) will result in unimaginable acrimony and chaos for the next 4 years.

We don’t know the outcome yet (likely won’t for a few days) but you can certainly expect trump (even out of office), hanging around pulling Republican strings for as long as he wants.

It’s like being betrayed by a very close friend. It’s that same let down feeling. The best you can do is sever ties and move on with your life.

That’s it. I’m cutting out the news  – I can now invest the 2-3 hours a day I spent trying to stay informed reading novels, doing things that reduce stress levels. It’s time to turn my back on this nightmare I can’t do anything about.