Friday, December 18, 2009

Red Purl Afghan: More Blocking and Assembly

Let's see...when we last left the afghan, half of it had been blocked and I was soon off to Red Purl to sew the thing together.

I blocked the second half of the squares on Saturday. (Nothing like waiting til the last minute.) To speed up the drying time, I set the blocking board in front of the heating stove in our kitchen. Troy was patient enough to walk around it all day.

But it was worth it (to me) because they were dry...and flat...and straight by Sunday. (Have I said it yet? Blocking's amazing!)

Off I went to Red Purl to join the other KAL-ers. Only the group was pretty thin. I think only one other person was actually seaming things together and even she only two of the three strips done. A couple others were knitting on blocks. And a lot of people were missing...holiday parties and other year end busy-ness I will assume.

We had a fun time, however. I had printed out an 8x10 picture of the layout I liked and followed it to make sure all the blocks ended up in the right place, enduring much ridicule as a much-too-organized person!

But following my pattern, I sewed blocks in pairs along the shorter seams and got all the short seams done that afternoon. Then my time was up and I carefully packed it up to take it home. Carefully because I wanted to make sure not to stretch out the threads which bridged the gap like so:
I didn't want to cut the working thread between blocks so I "chain-stitched" [quilting term] from one pair of blocks to the next.

This was especially effective as I was trying out a crochet seam instead of sewing it with a needle. One big advantage is that I can just work from the ball and don't have to cut lengths of wool--ta da! No ends to work in! Genius!! (I can say that because it's not like I thought this up on my own.)

When at home I finally got to joining the long seams. When I got to the intersections, I just seamed right over the previous stitching. It worked like a charm:

Here's a picture of how the crocheted seam looks:
(The crochet stitching is between the yellow lines.)

It looks like a set of chain stitches zig zagging up the seam. Which, I guess, is was it essentially is. I think the stitches would have been a little smaller and less noticeable if I had used a smaller crochet hook. But I started with that one (5.5mm--same as the knitting needles) and was not about to switch half way through.

And the back?
Well, I think the back is even less obvious than the front. Sometime I'll do this seam from the wrong side and I think it will be virtually invisible. It's also a very flat seam so it does not add a lot of bulk or change the size of the original article. All good things.

But before you think this is the last word on seaming, I should warn you that this method has one thing going against it: it's very slow! Or maybe I just am a slow crocheter?

Eventually, though, I slogged my way through it and got everything put together:
And all in the right position--thanks to my pattern! By the way, I so enjoyed the result so far that I left it displayed on the couch for the last few days and wouldn't let Troy sit on it. He's so tolerant!

Ready for a few details? The crochet seam is very easy to do. The short version is that you crochet the two sides together by slip stitching back and forth from one side to the other.

Want more details? Insert crochet hook through one loop of selvage stitch of left side. Wrap yarn around hook.

Pull yarn through all loops.

Insert crochet hook through one loop of selvage stitch of right side. Wrap yarn around hook.

Pull yarn through all loops.
And repeat ad nauseum. But remember...no ends to work in. That part is great. Plus I think it looks pretty good. This method was also made easier because the way I put the border on all the blocks ensured that each edge had the same number of stitches.

Alright, so this is the end of the Red Purl 2009 Afghan Block of the Month Knit-Along. Mine is not quite finished since I plan to do an edging around the outside. (I know, I know--I just don't know when to quit!) But I think I'll keep that under wraps until it's all done.

One last look will have to hold you until then:
It's so soft, snugly, and warmer than you would believe. Mmmm...cozy too.

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