Friday, January 30, 2015

The final chapter in the epic sweater saga

Over the last 3 years, I have been on a mission to knit a sweater for my son.  Allow me to review the chronicles of my journey.

February 26, 2012:  I got hoodwinked into knitting a sweater for my 6 foot tall son.

March 1, 2012:  I encountered my first obstacle, just trying to find a pattern for a man's sweater, and ended up having to purchase an entire book of men's knitwear just for one sweater pattern.

March 2, 2012:  The actual knitting of the sweater began.  After many stops and starts due to rusty knitting skills, inexperience,  and a realization that the pattern was coming out too small, I was forced to rip out what I had and start over with a whole new pattern.

March 15, 2012: After two weeks of sustained effort on the sweater, I had the back finished, and was struggling through knitting the front.

March 31, 2012:  I finished the sweater front (or at least I thought it was finished) and moved on to knitting the first sleeve.

April 13, 2012:  I realized that I made an error in the cable pattern on the sweater front and had to unravel several inches of work.

June 25, 2012:  After taking a break from the agony of knitting this sweater, I got back to work and finished one sleeve, only to realize that it did not even come close to being the right size or shape to fit the armhole.

January 15, 2013:  A new year, and a new commitment to finishing the sweater. (Who am I kidding? I really was trying to get it ready to give it to him for Christmas of 2012 but I missed that deadline completely.) I spent many a fruitless hour   trying to figure out what I needed to do to make the sleeves fit the armholes.

January 25, 2013:  I rewrote the directions to completely reshape the cap of the sleeve, hoping it would fit into the armhole, and knit a second sleeve. 

April 5, 2013:  Three months passed with no more progress. The mere thought of knitting was enough to make me cringe.  I decided that it would be okay to start knitting something else just to remember why I ever liked knitting in the first place.

November 19, 2013:  The sleeves were finally done, and with help from my sister  I started sewing the monstrosity into a sweater.  I got stuck, and put it aside. Again.

January 31, 2014:  Another new year, and yet the sweater remained untouched.  It was at this time that I joined the prayer shawl ministry at my church, and all my knitting efforts went into that.  I blocked out the specter of  the "ghost of sweaters past" and happily moved on.

January 17, 2015:  Tired of seeing the unfinished sweater at the bottom of the closet, and with the encouragement of my expert knitter sister, I set aside a Saturday night specifically for us to get together so she could show me how to finish the sweater.  We got to talking and visiting and the time flew by.  By evening's end, the job wasn't nearly done.

By some miracle, and with only  a little bribery, my lovely sister volunteered to take the sweater home with her and finish sewing it together for me

A few days later, it was done.  After 3 years,  the sweater monkey was off my back!

I was finally able to give my son the "wearable hug" he had asked for.  What a relief!  No more guilt!  No more angst!

It was a very good fit!

I am so grateful to my sister for her help, and
I am so glad that I don't have a request for knitting
 hanging over my head anymore.
Oh wait.  
My daughter has asked me to knit her an infinity scarf.  

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February is the time to Commit

Beth Helfter of EvaPaige Quilt Designs is sponsoring her fourth annual "Drop and Give Me Twenty" challenge.
Beth's intention  is to show how spending just 20 minutes a day in the pursuit of our quilting hobby is enough to really make an impact on what we can accomplish.

I am 4 months behind on my quilt guild's mystery BOM, and a 5th step is coming in February, so I thought I would jump on the DaGMT bandwagon and commit to getting up to date on that.

In order to be included in the challenge, here is my pledge of commitment, with a bit of inspiration from the Wizard of Oz:

I, Auntie Em, who’s motto is “There’s no place like the sewing room”,  am joining Quilting Hottie Haven's third annual DaGMT event. I  pledge to quilt for at least 20 minutes every day of the month of February, 2015. In doing so I hope to get caught up on my quilt guild’s mystery BOM, and earn the right to wear those red shoes.   I thank Beth Helfter, the Good Witch of Oz,  for coming up with this concept and inspiring me to join.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow days and Sew days

Two days of winter weather were the perfect excuse to stay home and just sew.  Luckily, we didn't lose electricity during Snowpocalypse 2015, so I was able to use my sewing machine.

The quilt I am making is a Mini Lotus pattern by Jaybird quilts.  I had all the pieces cut out  before the storm, so I began by sketching out a diagram and using colored pencils to figure out how I wanted to sew them all together:

I needed a diagram, because the quilt is made up of triangle units,

but I wanted to make some of them look like flowers:
(Although, in this weather, they started to remind me more of snowflakes.)

After piecing the rows, the top looked like this:

The pattern calls for simply trimming the sides into a rectangle, and leaving it at that.  But,  I added a narrow border of the background fabric, and then a wider border of the print that I bought to match the jelly roll:

I kind of love it!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

A sweet finish and a fresh start

I did my best to make the most of the Friday Night Sew-In.  My plan was to get the binding sewn down on my Candy Squares table runner, and I was able to get that accomplished.  This morning it got put in it's new home on my coffee table, ready for Valentine's Day.

The evening was still young, so I decided to get started on a new project, starting with this:

This is a jelly roll of "Heart's Content" that my husband gave me.  Being a bonafide "jewel tone gal", these earthy colors  are not my usual playground, but I was willing to go with it.  If the hubby is willing to go outside his comfort zone by stepping foot into a quilt store, then I am happy to work outside my comfort zone with a new color palette.

I was at the fabric store one day recently, when a fabric with all the colors from this jelly roll caught my eye.  I didn't have the jelly roll with me, so I wasn't sure,  but I bought a piece of it for a possible border.
 Compatible Color Combo

Time to break open the jelly roll:
I love it when you unroll the jelly roll and all the possibilities come tumbling out.

I decided to use the jelly roll to make a Mini Lotus pattern by Jaybird Quilts.

I pulled out a few additional fabrics that were in the stash, and thought about how I might add a row or two to the original pattern so that I could use more fabrics.    (The Math Geek in me likes any excuse to pull out the calculator.)

I decided not to cut into anything on Friday night because I learned the hard way not to rotary cut when you are tired.  This morning I got all the jewel shaped pieces cut out:

and a whole bunch of little triangles.

This is where I'm at right now.  I'm not quite sure yet if the border fabric will work.  It might be a bit too bright, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Weekend plans

This Friday Night is the first Friday Night Sew-In for the year.

I'm hoping to get the binding sewn on to this Valentine table runner:

I would like to get this finished and put into use for Valentine's Day, and committing to the FNSI is always a good motivator.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Binding - a lefty's step by step for joining the ends

There comes a time at the end of just about every quilting project when you have sew on the binding.  From mug rug to potholder to king size quilt, they all need to have bindings eventually.

In the past, I often had a problem when it came to joining the beginning and the ending of the binding.   When I was a beginner quilter, I used to just turn under the raw edge, and apply one edge over the other.   It did the job, but it was bulky.

Later, I learned how to join the seams on the diagonal and create a nice, smooth join, but, I always had to stop and review how to do it, and more than once I joined them backwards and had to do it over.

Finally, I found an online tutorial at McCall's Quilting magazine   and it changed the way I join bindings.   Only thing is, I kept losing track of the website, so I decided to make a blog post about it.

The following is a step by step guide to how I join my bindings.  It's basically the same as the McCall's version, but, being left handed, it is done in the opposite direction.  This may not make any sense to anyone else but me, but from now on I'll always know where to find my directions.

You start by trimming one end of the binding at a 45 degree angle:

Open out the binding that you didn't cut, and lay it in place along the raw edge of the quilt. Pin.

Trim off any excess binding. (I'm talking about that piece on the right that is folded down onto the quilt.)

Open out the binding with the 45 degree cut and lay it on the top of the bottom piece.  (I put a piece of tan fabric in there so you can see there are  two pieces.)  Note that to keep from stretching the binding, I fold the edges of the quilt in toward the center.

Draw a 45 degree line on the bottom binding, following the cut edge of the piece of binding on the top:

 Now you can lift up the top binding and you are left with a marked line on the bottom binding.

With your ruler, draw another line, a scant half inch to the right.

Cut the bottom binding on the line you just drew, as indicated by the scissors in the photo below:

 Now you have both sides of the binding trimmed and ready to be joined.

Pin the two raw edges together:

Sew  with a 1/4" seam, and finger press the seam open:

Refold, with wrong sides together, and pin the binding in place:

Sew the binding to the quilt.

Now you are ready to turn the binding to the back and sew it down.  If you want more information on this technique, check out the McCall's link I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

The wayward crochet fail.

Sometime in the restful days after Christmas, but before the New Year, I started crocheting a new shawl. The pattern I used was called "Clapochet" by Crochet Kitten.    It's a rectangular shawl that is worked on the diagonal.

Using a pretty, variegated turquoise yarn, I started out in the corner:

Each row got bigger and bigger, until I reached the opposite corner, and then the number of stitches remained the same:

I was stopping to count stitches at the end of each row to be sure I was on track, until eventually I got the pattern memorized and just continued on my merry way.  After working on it for a few nights, it seemed to me that the rows were taking longer and longer to complete, so I took a tape measure and laid it out on the floor to measure.  This is what I had:

What the heck happened here?  Somehow I began increasing the stitches along that bottom edge with each row!  I still do not understand how this happened.  I was well into my third skein of yarn when I realized my error.

I thought about ripping out just back to where I started to stray from the pattern, but I was so annoyed with myself that I decided to pull the whole thing out.  That left me with 3 balls of yarn where I used to have 3 pull skeins.

Fortunately for me, my daughter just happened to have given me a yarn bowl for Christmas.

A yarn bowl  is a bowl with a swirly curve cut into it.  You put your yarn in the bowl, thread your leading strand into the curved cutout, and then rotate the bowl 180 degrees away from you as you work.  The ball of yarn spins around in the bowl when you pull and keeps it from rolling out onto the floor.

I decided on a new pattern for this yarn, called the Basket Stitch Scarf by Mary Griffin, and I'm about half way done on a new shawl.
I call this photo Still Life with Yarn Bowl.

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