Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Advent

Today is the first day of advent. I'm starting to get into it. (It's not quite the Christmas spirit, but it leads into it.)

What helped this year is that I was asked (just last Sunday, I will add) to make an advent cloth for our church. The communion table is generally "dressed" with a liturgical cloth suitable for the current season and we didn't really have an advent cloth.

Although purple has been traditional for advent, blue is becoming more accepted as purple is used for lent. It is also widely accepted to use pink for "Mary's Sunday." I think we found a lovely sort of compromise in this batik fabric which contains lavenders and blues. (The lighter lines of flowers are more blue in person.)

I was also pleased to note that some of the flowers are calla lilies since white lilies are a symbol of Mary. No, I don't go to a Catholic church and I don't venerate Mary, but you can hardly celebrate Christmas (you know, Christmas that still has Christ in it) without realizing that she played a pretty big role in the whole saga.

Anyway, I think the fabric is pretty ideal for the table covering. Plus the batik is so pretty and complex, I didn't need to do anything more than hem the ends and throw it over the table.

But since I can't seem to keep things simple, I decided to make several strips to hang down the front:
There was only one up today because it's only the first Sunday of advent. I'll add one more each week until it will be completed on Christmas. I'm working on a "surprise" to be revealed on Christmas day, but it's not ready yet so I'm not going to tell you about it. (Plus, advent being a time of waiting, it seems appropriate to make you wait to see the whole picture. Sorry if that drives you nuts. ;)

What I can give you today is a little tutorial on the blind hem I used. It's very simple, but it can be tricky to get your head around how it works. But it's well worth the "mind bending" even if it's a little painful because the result is so professional and effective.

First, you fold over the hem to the wrong side at the final depth that you want and press:
Then you fold under the raw edge, trying to make the exposed part of the hem even:
and press it down again: (I love to iron.)
Now you need to do a little flip to get it ready for sewing. It would be hard to describe so I made this short video:
See how simple that is? You don't turn the fabric over (the wrong side still faces you), but just give the hem a little flip, making sure to keep a little bit exposed as shown.

Pin as you go:
Now you'll need to head to the sewing machine. Most machines will have a blind hem option. It's a straight stitch on one side with an occasional zig zag. It looks like this on my machine:
You can see that my machine has the option to do a blind hem to the right or the left. Your machine may only have one option.

You may also have a special foot for your machine, but you don't need to have it. If you do, it will have an uneven bottom--one side will be higher than the other. You put the fabric under the foot so that the ridge of the foot lines up with the fold, as seen here:
As you sew, the seam will be straight along the right side (the upper fold of the hem) and then take an occasional "bite" of the left fold, which is the body of the garment (or tablecloth). You can see in this picture that the machine has just finished taking a bite.

Once it's sewn, you can unfold them hem (and press again). Watching this may help you know what to expect:
Here's the seam as it comes off the machine:
And after unfolding and turning to the right side:
From a little further away, you hardly notice the stitches on the right side.
This is one of the flattest, well hanging hems I know. Try it out!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fridays

Now that Friday has rolled around again, I have time to share what I did last Friday.

A woman in my church has opened up her home once a month for a "UFO" night with the bonus that she will teach you how to make several styles of cards if you want. She has a lot of paper craft/scrapping toys, I mean tools and is willing to share. (She has come to my aid in the past as well when I needed a little something cut or made.)

Here is a sample of one of the cards they made last week:
Isn't that pretty! And they did three or four different ones in a night.

But you can bring whatever you want with you. One woman was removing old pictures from frames for a friend of hers who moved to a much smaller place and can't hang them on the walls.
She's going to arrange them in an album so her friend can still enjoy them.

Someone else was working on entering recipes into one of those searchable recipe programs.

And what did I bring along? My super-sized UFO--the old Kentucky quilt top:
I haven't done much (any?) on it since the last time I wrote about it, but I decided it was just the thing to throw in a bag with some supplies and take with me. (If only I had remembered to throw in a thimble--my finger was pretty ripped up by the end of the night. Ow!)

The flower I worked on was this one:
It was fairly thick cotton and working over some of the seam was pretty tough. But I got it done in the evening. My stitches still are large and amateur:
but like I said last time, I enjoy it. And I put this picture up for all of you out there who feel bad about your stitches and are unwilling to show them. It's ok! You can also see in this picture that the centre of this flower will never sit flat. The piece was not cut out or seamed correctly. It's a fun little wonky quilt.

So I now have four flowers done out of 64. 60 left to go. If we keep meeting monthly, the flowers will be done in five years...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Another Honey Cowl and a Class

I had the idea to knit a thank you gift for someone, but no particular plan. Then I saw this yarn at Red Purl and it didn't take me 20 seconds to decide to get it.

It's a new yarn Amy's carrying from Fleece Artist called Kidazzle. It's 70% Merino, 20% Kid (mohair) and 10% Nylon. It's a DK weight, and like a lot of stuff from Fleece Artist, the colours are outstanding. I think this colourway is Forest Fairie, but the tag isn't labeled so I'm not sure. (Pet peeve alert there, if you're listening, Fleece Artist.)

Instead of spending a lot of time looking for a pattern, I used one that I already loved and knew would be great for a variegated yarn--the Honey Cowl from Madelinetosh. Yes, this is the third one I've made, but the first one was for the shop and the second was a gift so it's not like I have a pile of them sitting in my closet.

I have to say this one flew off the needles. Partly it was because I was a little bit obsessed and partly it was because I came up with another improvement on my technique.

As before, I knit it with no purling. The problem with this method is that while you are doing the K1, slip 1 row, you are looking at the wrong side and it is hard to tell if you are supposed to be knitting or slipping. I discovered a trick to not only make this problem go away, but to make it more efficient (and thus faster) as well. Yay, me!

Once again, a slip stitch pattern does wonders for
a variegated yarn.
But it can be "yay, you!" as well. I'm going to be teaching a class at Red Purl about both of these methods in December. Talk to Amy about signing up.

The class will be offered twice: Saturday, December 10 and Thursday, December 15. You'll get all the information in either class, but if you want to come to both to review or get extra help, you can--at no extra charge.

When I dropped off this cowl at Red Purl today (as a temporary sample only), Rose was there. After our obligatory catch up about house progress (she has a door on her bathroom now--let's all be very happy for her!), we did had ourselves a nice knitting talk.

She liked the cowl but was disappointed when Mary Ann told her there was no more Kidazzle in the shop. After she had already checked out, I found a couple more skeins, including a gorgeous purple (her favourite). She had that purchased in five seconds...I honestly barely had time to finish my sentence before it was at the register being paid for! And she's committed to the class so I am looking forward to seeing her there. (Make sure to reserve your spot.)

Can I say again how much I love these colours? You can see that they did sort of pool in the pattern but because the slip stitches add an extra layer it's more like the colours flow than that they pool. I am loving the effect, whatever you may call it. I'm giving the cowl to a blond and I think the colours will look very good on her.
I was also happy with myself for knitting pretty much the entire project in continental style. I've tried that on projects previously but never been able to do it. This time I did it! I can't be sure yet if that means I've passed a Project Stats
Started
: 25 Oct '11 / Finished: 5 Nov '11
Pattern: Honey Cowl by Ann Maria for Madelinetosh, free
Materials: Fleece Artist Kidazzle (Forest Fairie, I think), $24
tipping point and will continue to be comfortable in continental style or if it was just easier on this particular project. In any case, I am sure that is part of why this project went so quickly.

I have to admit I'm going to be a little sad to see this one go (even as I'll be very happy to give it). This cowl used about 2/3 of the skein, which means I have 1/3 left to use. I think I'm going to see how big a cowl I can get from it. I'm not ready to be done knitting with it yet...

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