Friday, April 27, 2012

Baby Boy Blue

Tonight I went to a thoroughly grown up baby shower. No games, coed, and desserts were served. (No alcohol, so "grown up" but not "adult." :)

I had been given plenty of notice about when it was happening, but of course didn't really think about it until it was less than a week away...Ah! what to make??

I went my standby gift (bibs-can you ever have too many?) and to my standby pattern. The first new mother I gave it to said she loved them and I have trusted her word and made them for a number of babies since.

It is a sewing pattern that calls for a front and a facing (the back) joined with binding around the edges. I really don't think two layers of cotton are going to much good against a baby armed with food so I've always added a layer of batting in between. This, of course, gives opportunity for quilting!

My first free motion quilting was on bibs for another friend:
This was in 2005. I have to say I was pretty proud of how even the stippling looked and how the animals were all outlined. It was a very nice sized piece to try out the technique, and much as I wouldn't have wanted to give a botched bib to a friend, it was a pretty low-risk situation to try it out on.

This time, since they are expecting a boy, I decided to use up some of the blue leftovers I had from my mini crossed canoes quilt. First I cut out the back and then laid it on a piece of scrap batting:
Then I cut out some strips of the blues (and one orange for pop), figured out what layout I wanted, and then started to sew them to the backing and batting with a stitch and flip method.
This is not only going to sew down the strips, but to quilt it at the same time.

Once all the strips are sewed down, you just have to trim off all the excess:
From the back
From the front, after trimming.
Then I just had to apply the blue binding and blue velcro (both of which I already had in my notions box--bonus!):
and I could call them done!

From the back you can see the quilting lines
but they are not visible from the front.
I thought this couple needed a clean modern look and nothing too juvenile. (The one on the right really makes me think of a tie; I guess it's the slanted strips and shape of the bottom.)

You can see on the left bib that I decided to change it up from straight stripes. (On some level, I must get bored easily.) But since I was on a bit of a deadline, and not interested in adding too much more sewing, I did it a cheater way.

When I was ready to add some orange, I cut the blue strip and laid it out with the raw edges folded back:
Then I laid the orange piece on top. It had to be long enough that its raw edges would be well back from the opening:
Once the seam was sewn and the pieces were flipped, the folded edges would keep any raw edges from fraying:
Pin them down to keep them in place, and you're ready to sew the next strip on:
Is it possible that with hard wear and washing these edges may expose themselves since I haven't sewn them down? Possibly, but I really don't think it's very likely.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pretty in Pink

Ready for some pictures? I've got a number to show you!

I finished my "Big Bias Collar T" a number of weeks ago. Although I was happy with the fit, I wasn't very happy with the collar. Even as I was making it I knew it was going to be tricky to get right.

After blocking the sweater, I didn't dare wear it. The collar wasn't right. But as time went by and I didn't make time to block it again, I couldn't wait and wore it anyway. Twice.
People were kind and made nice comments. They noticed it was new (it's kind of hard to miss in that bright colour!) and said it looked good even when I said I felt like an extra from the Jetsons.
The sleeves were also a little narrow. I really needed to re-block it and try again.

Second go was a big success!! Instead of blocking the collar straight out, I laid it flat. Here's a little comparison. (Yes the pose is a little goofy but I wanted to make sure you got a good view of the collar.)
I hope it's obvious that on the left we have a Jetsons outfit and on the right we have a wonderfully draping shawl-like collar. Blocking it this way lets bias fabric of the collar work for you instead of against you.

Here, have a few more pictures:

So. Much. Better.

Another issue I was worried about was the itchiness of the wool. I think I mentioned that before.

The first time I tried it on (before it was even done), I almost exploded from the itchiness. The ladies at Red Purl encouraged me by saying that this wool is known for getting softer with each washing. So perhaps it was a good thing I had to block it twice.

Much as I trust the ladies at Red Purl, I went ahead and found something to wear under the shirt. The wide collar keeps it away from my neck (=very sensitive skin) and the shirt underneath keeps it away from my tummy (=also sensitive skin). My arms don't seem to mind at all.

Speaking of, the second blocking allowed me to stretch the sleeves a little wider and they fit better now too.

More pics just for fun...
Project Stats
Started
: 11 Feb '12
Finished: 13 Mar '12
Pattern: Seberg by  Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark ($7.19)
Materials: Peace Fleece Worsted 3-1/3 skeins in Perestroika Pink, 1/2 skein Antartica White ($28.50)


I can also add that this shirt is very warm. I wore it out on Saturday without a jacket and was surprised at just how chilly a sunny day could be. However, whatever was under the shirt stayed quite toasty while anything out of the shirt was way too chilly. For some this would be a bad thing in a tshirt. For me who is always cold, it is perfect.

P.S.: In case some of you were wondering, I did have enough yarn after ordering the extra ball--I only used about a third of it. The colour matched perfectly which isn't always the case even within the same dye lot. But lucky me, it all worked out great!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Green Sale"

This weekend, Amy at Red Purl in Niles is hosting the second "Green Sale."

Shoppers are bringing in their once-loved-but-not-quite-so-loved-any-more yarn to sell at great prices. It might be never used yarn, unfinished projects or raveled projects. This is your chance to find a deal, something that's been out of production or just something interesting.

I've been pulling together my yarns that I could possibly part with to take to the store. In the picture you can see a silk blend, bamboo, blue face leicester and mohair. I have more going too.

The sale is this weekend, Saturday through Monday, during regular store hours. If  you are one of the favoured "bag ladies," you can come for pre-sale sales on Saturday, 8-10am. (A "bag lady" is a Red Purl patron with a Red Purl bag. Yes, a very exclusive club!)

I'm excited to see what's there. Will I see you there?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sock Fail

"Jaywalkers"
from Ravelry user Sandra
I apparently am not over my zig zag craze.

When I needed a project I could take around with me, I looked for a sock pattern I could make with some Patons Kroy Socks yarn that I already had. It's one of those yarns with slow colour changes that I can not seem to resist. I picked it up a summer or two ago at Erica's sidewalk sale.

I started to knit the pattern (Jaywalker by Grumperina, fyi) converting it to toe-up as I went, but I didn't think I was getting the best look from the yarn. The colours didn't change fast enough for the zig zag pattern to show up.

On top of that, I took a second look at the ball band and realized even with two skeins, I didn't really have enough to make long socks. I like long socks. So I thought I would kill two birds with one stone, or solve two problems with one bullet, or pick whichever violent metaphor you would like, and buy another ball of the same stuff in a contrasting colour. That would allow me to stripe to bring out the zig zag and to stretch out the yarn to get longer socks.

I went back to Erica's first but missed their closing time by five minutes. I met a lovely woman from Minnesota in their parking lot. Or I assume she's lovely under better circumstances. She was apparently visiting her daughter nearby and needed a sewing notion. She was incensed that they would not let her in the store to buy it. "Just one bobbin, that's all I need," she kept saying. I finally told her to tell them on their website because I could not do anything about it! I also directed them to another store that I hope had it. She uses a Viking machine and I'm pretty sure their bobbins are proprietary. I'm not sure there's another dealer in town besides Erica's.

Oh one more thing, since I'm so side tracked already. At some point I had to try and tell them how to get to the other store. I could drive there, but couldn't think of the directions right away and they didn't live in town. So I go to my car to give them an old map I had, and by the time I get back the daughter has it pulled up on her phone. Of course...

Anyway, from there I went to Yarn Gourmet, where I do not go very often at all. They do not carry this yarn. They do carry Mini Mochi that I made my Circle Socks out of and love so very much. This time, however, they had no colours to entice me at all. I wanted to buy some but the colours they had just said, "Nothing to see here; just keep on walking..." So I did.

While I was there, however, I managed to pick up my first set of Addi Turbos. These are the "affordable" top notch needles. (Compared to Signatures, for example, which are something like $45 a set.) But Addis are very good (I had heard). They're metal which is what I was looking for because I had shattered one of my Harmony (wooden) dpns while working on this sock. For the pattern, you need to do a double decrease and it puts a lot of pressure on the needle. Enough pressure and...snap!! I worked for a while with four instead of five needles, but buying the Addis was the perfect solution. I really like working with them. I was worried because they're 8" instead of 6" and I sometimes thought the 6" were too long. But they're great.

Anyway, (I am being wordy tonight, aren't I!), I didn't find any wool there.

One more thought as I was leaving was that Joann's carried a lot of Patons yarn and maybe they would have it. An added convenience is that they have late hours. So off I went to Joann's and sure enough they carried this sock yarn. I had a number of options, but the best one seemed to be this grey, black and red self-striping yarn:
It seemed a little bit of an odd combination but I convinced myself it would work. And after knitting the foot of the sock, I have to say I think it does. It's different from the first colour, which gradually changes from one colour to the next. It's self-striping in the sense that it will be grey for a while and then suddenly change to red and then after a while it will suddenly change to another colour. It's a different effect and some people like it. I myself would rather have more control over my stripes (you're so surprised) and would just work with different colours. Striping is so easy that I don't know why they make self-striping yarns. But oh well, it will be handy for this project since I'm using it interspersed with the other yarn.

I merrily knit along on my new size 2mm Addis. Added a few stitches for a gusset. Went and turned a heel in the first colour,
and then continued up the leg, now doing the zig zag all around. It's looking so pretty, I thought, I have to try it on.
That was a problem. The bottom part of the sock (the "foot") was pretty snug, but I was able to get it on pretty easily. And it's supposed to be snug. But the heel and the leg part absolutely would not go over my heel. It's not wide enough and there is absolutely no stretch in this zig zag pattern. Grumperina warned me of that in the pattern but I thought I had enough stitches. Apparently not.

You can see that I have already taken the needles out (it was a silly hope that the socks would go on if the needles weren't "in the way") and am now deciding if I have to take it out to the top of the heel and add stitches there, or if I have to take out the heel as well and work on things at the gusset stage.

Before I rip, though, I had better measure my gauge in the pattern so I can figure how many stitches I will need. I also will probably change to larger needles right after the heel. The fabric is very firm on the 2mms, which is what I wanted for the sole of the foot, but the leg could be looser. Then I'll get to see if my size 2.25mm Harmony needles are up to the task or if I get to buy another set of Addis!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rednecking

Last time I mentioned my Crossed Canoes quilt, I said it was time for some quilting. And I was right!

A couple weekends ago, I got myself set up and started stitching on the centre circle I had drawn:
At first I used my walking foot (above). Then when I wanted to use my quilting guide (You can see a picture of one here. It's the L-shaped bar with the bent tip attached to the back of the presser foot.), I had to switch to my regular foot. It doesn't fit on the walking foot. (Very bad design oversight.) But I quickly realized that the arm of the guide hits the fabric too far ahead of the needle and really doesn't work for curved lines. I needed something that would line up beside the needle.

Not having something like that, after each circle I completed, I drew dashed lines to mark the next circle two inches further out. It was somewhat tedious, but since I was still working near the centre of the quilt, it was manageable.

By the end of the session, I had four circles done:
Unfortunately, I also had quite a few jogs in my sewing:
Not pretty. And I was realizing that hand marking each circle was quickly becoming less practical.

As I was discussing the problem with Troy, we somehow came to the conclusion that I needed a laser pointer attached to my machine, which would shine down exactly two inches from the needle. We can't remember who first voiced it out loud (probably Troy), but it was a brilliant idea.

A brilliant idea I had to try. (I haven't been married to Troy for 11+ years without his certain brand of DIY rubbing off on me!)

So this weekend, I took the laser pointer Troy had and "rednecked" a solution.
I know, it looks really pretty, doesn't it! Troy says it's not really rednecking if it's not duct tape, but I can live without the extra-strength tape residue on my machine.

I had to mount the pointer on an angle since it actually had to light up a spot under the top of the machine. And the second clothes pin is just to keep the light on--it's got a button that has to be held down for the light to stay on. (I don't know if it's allowed in rednecking, but I think I love clothespins more than duct tape.)

I carefully aligned the light so that it was two inches from the needle:
And look at this:
When I put the fabric under the needle, I could line the previous stitching up with the laser and off I went, with my walking foot.

I did five more rounds in about an hour and they're all a lot neater. This is the back:
The green bobbin thread shows up best on the tan fabric. But I have a trick I'm going to play...I'm going to be quilting the whole thing again between these circles with tan thread in the bobbin. Then those lines will show up on the green and it will give the impression of full circles. Can't wait to see it!

And here is a bit of the front:
With such busy piecing, the quilting doesn't show up as much on the front, but I'm still looking forward to seeing the total overall effect.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Knitting in Public

I do like to drag my knitting with me everywhere and it often solicits comments from people around me. Of course, I'm not the only one. There's a whole group on Ravelry where we swap stories and offer advice for how to handle rude people or other situations.

Recently I read one of my favourite KIP stories and wanted to share it with you. It's from Rav user steamboat28. (His self-penned profile starts with "I’m male, and I knit. That automatically makes me awesome." I like his style! You can read more of his stuff on his blog.)

His story:

My personal favorite KIP experience was at about 3 am at a local diner. I’m sitting in a booth (bearded, in my kilt, my hair braided), and working on a hat when a group of strippers got off their shift, scantily clad, and sat at the table next to me. They tossed a few glances my way, whispered a bit among themselves, and bounced over to ask me a metric tonne of questions. 
About five minutes into this (and a bit of hanging all over me for some reason), a very large biker that has been eyeing the situation for some time walks over like someone put streamers on his motorcycle. He gets right up to the table, and I’m expecting him to be either jealous or protective, or one of those other manly-fight-starting emotions, when he just stares a hole through me. After a moment, he speaks: 
“You are the manliest S.O.B. I’ve ever met in my life. I would never have the balls to knit in public.”
Really, you never know how people are going to react!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Walk Wrap up

I don't plan to write every week, but I happened to finish another dish/wash cloth today.

I walked 4.5 times last week, and 2 more this week so far. That means 3.25 hours for this cloth.

And now that I see it in the picture, I think I maybe should have knit it a little longer to make it square. Ah well...I'll let that one pass.

When I started these cloths, I just took a guess at 40 stitches and that turned out to be the smallest size I would want to do. Next I jumped up to what I assumed would be the largest size at 60 stitches.

Here are the two together for some scale:
Next up will be the in between size. I guess that would make it the Goldilocks "just right" size!

Since I'm only out for a half hour, I try to keep the speed up so I'm actually burning some calories. It actually crossed my mind to wonder if I could knit while jogging. This is absolutely crazy since I hate jogging. Could knitting while jogging actually be any better?

I haven't tried it yet. If I do, I'll let you know...

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