Sunday, September 16, 2012
Months ago, I was lucky enough to get on the special order list for Southern Cross Fibre. I knew for sure that I wanted to make a colorwork *something*, but I wasn't certain of just what. I toyed with the idea of a little bit of EVERY color from the Spring/Summer 2012 Semi-solids collection, then narrowed it down to something like 8 different 2-color combinations. In the end, I decided on "Java" and "Silver Sconce" on Shetland. I set out to spin yarn that as similar in hand to Jamieson's Shetland 2-Ply - I had been eying the Schoolhouse Pullover by Meg Swansen in the book "Knitting in America" for YEARS. This seemed to be just the right time - and yarn! - for it. Adding to that, I had a wedding anniversary right around the corner. I decided that I'd make this for D as an anniversary present. The pattern calls for a purl-when-you-can border, but I read that many people still had the lower edge curling. I opted for a turned cuff, and decided to sneak in a little bit of personalization on that edge - I put D's name, my name, the year knit, etc. The body of the sweater went quite quickly. The patterns are easily memorized, and the whole thing is knit in the round. When it came time to steek the armholes for the sleeves, I decided to work a crochet steek and to pick up and begin knitting the sleeves down BEFORE cutting the steek. This was just a little bit of insurance to make sure the stitches wouldn't pull out from the strain of picking up stitches. Things slowed down a bit on the sleeves knitting, as it became very hot and humid here (once again, ugh) and at this point I had to have the entire sweater on my lap while working on it. There is an I-cord detail worked along the top of each of the sleeves, and the decrease shaping is ingeniously worked under it. The collar gave me a bit of trouble - it turned out to be quite boat-necky, even with my having made it smaller in the knitting. I knew D wouldn't wear it if it was too wide. I worked an I-cord bind-off, and then picked up inside of that to work a turned hem mitered collar. I think the double bind-offs around the neck give it some much-needed structure and shape. And it fits! And he loves it! I'm thrilled to have finally made this sweater, and I can't wait to see it worn. Hooray!
Monday, September 3, 2012
It's been cooling off a bit this week (finally!) and that means I can get back to some quilting! I've had a few quilts in assorted states of non-completion due to hand-quilting. I thought I'd chatter a bit about hand-quilting and how I do it, when I do it, and all that jazz. I hand-quilted all of my quilts for a few years, simply due to the logistics of having to cram an entire queen-sized quilt into my wee machine and definitely wanting to work from the center out. In my thinking about it, I was pretty convinced that the maneuvering of a large quilt in the machine would take me about the same time to quilt as it would take to work it up by hand. I've since learned that this is not true, and I've become quite comfortable with machine-quilting. But every once in a while a quilt demands hand-quilting! Right now I'm working my way through this Retro Flowers quilt. I'm working 2 lines of quilting within each petal of the flower (I can go back in and do another round if I think it needs it). I knew that I wanted to quilt this within each petal, and I machine-quilted 2 petals and did not like it one bit! The curve of the petals is a bit too tight to be able to comfortably manipulate the entire quilt through. I ripped that stitching out (...before getting a picture, sorry!) and decided that hand-quilting would be the best way to go. I tend to do any hand-quilting using 2 strands of DMC floss rather than traditional quilting thread. I also work the stitches to be a bit longer. I figure if I'm going to go to the trouble of hand-quilting the whole thing, I want it to show, to be a design element. I also find that it lends itself to a stronger motif on the back of the quilt: For some quilts, the decision to hand-quilt is largely a logistical issue. I've decided to hand-quilt the Vortex Quilt because the quilt is IMMENSE - it's ~80" square. I also thought it might be a bit of a beast to run through the machine, as there are many many many tight seams piled up very close together toward the center. Due to the size of this quilt and the overwhelming task of hand-quilting it, I've had the help of some friends! It's getting quilted up bee-style, with each person working on a different portion of the quilt. While this leads to a bit of unevenness in the stitching, I'm not too concerned - I think the quilt is large enough and things are distributed enough that it won't matter in the end. (Also, it will be DONE!) This simple Crosses Quilt also received the hand-quilt treatment: Again, I think this was a decision based on size. I find that I am also more prone to hand-quilt if the quilt-top can be broken down into a base shape - squares, circles, petals. That way I can gauge my progress a bit more, and I can set "goals" for myself when I'm working on it (...only 2 more squares...) For this green quilt, I treated the large empty squares with diagonal stitches of tangerine and mimicked the lines of the pieced blocks in white and green. That was all to make the back nicer: I also love how the hand-quilting feels in the completed quilt - it really puckers it up nicely. This embroidered bird quilt got it too: Again, largely due to the size of the quilt. But also due to the bird images - any all-over pattern would interfere with the embroidery. And the combination of embroidery with machine-quilting on this Did. Not. Work. If I recall, I may have also been of the twisted mind "Hey, I've already put 600 hours of work into this, what's another 20?" It was definitely the right thing to do in this case. So, that's how I feel about hand-quilting and why I do it sometimes. Stock up on DMC, get your needles and thimbles, and get to it! It's quite satisfying.