Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First Quilt - Part IV

A Progress Report

I've made some progress on my Wonderland Quilt. I finally stitched the border on the quilt front:

And I've pieced my quilt back (sneak preview below) and prepared the binding (out of that first inspirational piece of tweedle dee in tomato):

I've got the batting, basting pins, and masking tape ready. Now I'm just waiting for a quiet day (preferably without the kids) to baste. But I'm quite nervous to start quilting. I plan to machine quilt but don't have a walking foot (I can't commit to buying one yet). Any tips? I plan to quilt as in this quilt.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Helena for Miriam

A few years ago I knit Helena, a free pattern from knitty, for a friend's newborn. It was one of those rare moments where pattern, yarn and colour all came together to create a perfect garment. It is still my favourite handmade project. This is my attempt at recreating it. I do love it, but just not quite as much as the first.

The main yarn is merino silk DK and was purchased from Camelot Yarns in Australia. They often have a stall at the Bus Depot Markets in Canberra. I love that their yarn is grown, produced, spun and dyed in Australia. The merino silk is soft and shiny and has a beautiful drape. They don't have a website but are happy to sell via email: camelotmc (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au. The contrast yarn is plain old 100% wool Cleckheaton Country 8ply (DK).

I knit the 12 month size. The main modification is that I used contrast yarn for all the edges and hems, and knit 8 rows garter stitch instead of picot. I also lengthened the sleeves a bit. And used buttons instead of ties for closure. Here's my beautiful girl modelling her new jumper:

And here is the first one I knit (3 month size):

These projects are on ravelry here and here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My First Quilt - Part III

I've nearly finished the quilt top and I love it!

I was surprised that I enjoyed sewing this so much - not even the pressing of seams was tedious. It was a joy to work with each little square. And I only needed to rip out about 4 seams (when my second strip came out about 1/2 inch longer than the first!). Of course the squares don't always align perfectly but I can live with that. Here's one of the better 'intersections':

Now all I have left to do is:
  1. Finish the quilt top by adding the border strips
  2. Design and piece the quilt back
  3. Baste
  4. Quilt
  5. Bind
So it should definitely be finished by next winter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Knitting Pattern: Magic Mitts

Ever since I began knitting, I have adapted patterns, improvised, and written up my own patterns to meet my needs. A while ago, I formally wrote up a pattern and made it available as a free ravelry download. Now that I have a blog, I thought I'd replicate it here, so that it's available to all web users. My next free pattern, another pair of mitts, will be available soon.

Magic Mitts
This simple mitt pattern, with a thumb gusset, is knit the same for both hands. It uses 2x2 rib cuffs and plain stockinette stitch to show off the lovely self-striping colours of the yarn. It would work well with other self-striping, variegated or solid yarns with a similar gauge to the Lincraft Prism, such as Patons SWS. While this pattern is written to be knit using the magic loop method or 2 circulars, it could also be knit on double pointed needles by dividing the stitches equally amongst 3-4 needles. They can easily be knit 2-at-a-time.
Women’s S [L]
Lincraft Prism: 70% wool, 30% soybean, Approx 65m per 50g ball; 2 balls
1 x 4.5 mm (US 7), 40” circular and 1 x 5.0 mm (US 8), 40” circular needle for magic loop OR 2 circulars of each size OR 4-5 double-pointed needles of each size
4 stitch markers (only 2 required if knitting one-at-a-time)
Approx 24 inches smooth waste yarn in a contrasting colour
Tapestry needle
22 st = 4 inches
Pattern Notes
pm – place marker
sm – slip marker
m1L (make 1 left-leaning stitch) – insert left needle from front to back, under the strand of yarn between the last stitch on the left needle and the first stitch on the right needle; knit this stitch through back loop.
m1R (make 1 right-leaning stitch) – insert left needle from back to front, under the strand of yarn between the last stitch on the left needle and the first stitch on the right needle; knit this stitch.

Cast on 32 [36] stitches on smaller needle. Divide equally and join to knit in the round.
Knit 14 rounds of K2 P2 rib.
Switch to larger needle. Knit 6 rounds stockinette.
Next round – Begin thumb gusset: K16 [18] pm m1R on the first needle, then K1 m1L pm K15 [17] on second needle.
Knit 2 rounds stockinette.
Next round – Thumb increase: K16 [18] sm m1R K1 on first needle, then K2 m1L sm K15 [17] on second needle.
Continue to increase in this manner, every 3rd round, until there are 9 [11] thumb stitches between the markers. Note: the increases are always immediately after the first marker, and just before the second marker.
Next round: K16 [18], transfer 9 [11] thumb stitches to waste yarn, cast on 1 stitch in the gap (backward loop method) on the second needle, k15 [17].
Knit 3 more rounds stockinette.
Change to smaller needles and knit 7 rounds K2 P2 rib.
Cast off in rib.
Using the larger needle, pick up the 9 [11] stitches from the waste yarn and then pick up 3 more stitches in the gap. 12 [14] stitches.
Divide stitches evenly and knit 6 rounds of stockinette.
Cast off loosely.
Weave in ends and block if desired.
There was quite a bit of yarn leftover, so you can easily add length by knitting more rounds before starting the thumb gusset.
Use 1x1 rib on the cuffs instead of 2x2. Or 3x1, etc.
For a medium size, CO 34 and use 1x1 ribs on cuffs. Increase thumb to 9 stitches as with smaller size.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My First Quilt - Part II

Last night I arranged 48 Wonderland charms on my dining room table. They're on top of the fabric I'll use for the sashing, but the sashing will be wider (1.5") - I just didn't have enough room anywhere. Here's what I came up with:

I arranged the blocks quite deliberately. With my minimal knowledge of colour theory and design I divided the charms into 3 groups:
  • light - cream background
  • medium - green, blue, pale pink background
  • dark/bright - red, bright pink, brown background
Next I started to place them one by one (starting at top left and winding down row by row), choosing from the pile I thought best at the time. As much as possible, I also alternated, checkerboard style, between the regularly patterned blocks (butterflies, scissors, dots, etc.) and random blocks (floral, etc.). For the 8 extra blocks I needed from my second charm pack, I chose the blocks that I also have in yardage. A few snapshots and a few swaps of blocks led to the final arrangement above.

I noticed that I'd placed most blocks that were directional right-side-up - as if the quilt had a top and bottom. I randomly changed some to see which I prefer. Here are the two side by side:

So the big questions are:
  1.  How's my layout? I want the eyes to travel all over the quilt and not just focus on one part. Are there any squares I should swap around to better achieve this?
  2. What about the orientation of the squares? Random or all in the same direction? Can you even tell the difference between the two above?
Remember, this is my first quilt, so I'd love all and any advice!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My First Quilt - Part I

I began writing this post and then realised that I was writing about my process. I've therefore decided to take the Process Pledge:

The Process Pledge

I've been thinking about my first quilt for some time now (at least 6 months). I've spent lots of time browsing Flickr and blogs and then daydreaming about how I could best use my Wonderland charm squares. Some of my favourite Wonderland quilts are below:

Although I love the idea of 1.Untitled (could make with my charms and honey bun) and 5. quilt front, I've decided to do a sashed quilt like 4. Gingham in Wonderland. I think the best part of a quilt made with this fabric is the fabric and that the sashing really frames each little work of art. As for the other two that I like, well, I think for my first quilt I should stick to some basic piecing.

The next step was working out how big to make the quilt and how wide to make the sashing. This is for a cot quilt for my beautiful daughter, and some Internet research said some common sizes are 36" x 48" and 40" x 52". As for the sashing, the quilts I liked the best on Flickr had a ratio of about 5":2" in width, including the seam allowance. Thus the blocks with turn out to be 4.5" square and the sashing will be 1.5" wide. A bit of maths led to deciding on the final size: 6 charms x 8 charms = 38" x 50" quilt.

Next is arranging the 48 charms out before sewing, but I'll leave that for another day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Adventures in Wonderland

This is the fabric that started it all:

I was given 3/4 metre of this gorgeous fabric as part of a gift when my baby girl was born. This was my introduction to quilting fabric, and the concept that you could use it to make garments. What began as 3/4 metre has turned into this:

and this:

I was so pleased to find the charm packs and the honey bun online, so that I at least own a scrap of each of the 40 prints. Some creative Internet searching turned up some more yardage, but I was overjoyed with the limited reprint and picked up the larger scale prints (below) and the dots. I love these (forgive the creases):

So, what are my plans with all this beautiful fabric? Quilts, skirts, dresses, bags, you name it. In my next post, I'll discuss the quilt I plan to make. It will be my first quilt so I'm trying hard to keep it simple. Then some day soon I may actually start to sew it!
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