Patchwork baby quilt

My husband’s brother’s wife has just had their first baby so I’m making a little quilt. They live in Australia and it’s summer now so I guess this will come in most useful in about 6 months’ time; or they could use it as a mat for him to lie on; or whatever they like!

I finished the quilt top last weekend and this weekend intend to quilt it. I can’t decide what quilting design to use. I’m bored with straight lines and in a way find them difficult because if it goes wonky it’s really noticeable so has to be pulled out and redone, which I don’t much fancy. As it’s only small I can do freehand, but need to decide what exactly. I get hyper-safety conscious when it comes to babies so don’t want any loose threads or things coming undone, so want a minimum of ends that need to be fastened in and will therefore be moving from one edge of the quilt to the other so the ends can be within the binding. Not that I’ve ever managed to start quilting in the middle like the manuals say, I can’t manage it without it looking messy.

I feel mildly guilty at the gender stereotyping of this fabric, though I know the respective grandmothers will approve and I don’t suppose the baby’s going to know or care! There’s no other circumstances in which I would use these fabrics, so I enjoyed it. All but the clouds fabric were part of two packs of 30 charm squares I bought on Ebay, I think cut and put together by the seller rather than by the manufacturer, so I don’t know what the make is. The plain colours felt to me like they’re thinner than the patterned, and puckerered up a bit when sewing, but improved with ironing and I think will be okay when quilted. The cloud fabric is Le Tissu by Domotex and is good quality. I bought a piece to use as the backing and cut just a strip off so there a few squares to include on the front so front and back tie in. I haven’t decided on the binding material yet.

baby quilt

The squares are 3 inches. There were more elephants I think than anything else so I had to include 2 or 3 on each row. The brighter blue fabric with bigger spots is the one that I think ‘pops’ so I wanted to make sure they were arranged so they were distributed evenly (but not symmetrically!) across the quilt. Needless to say I spent yonks trying to make sure there aren’t any inadvertent patterns in the way the squares of different fabrics are arranged. There are a couple of runs of diagonal elephant squares but at least they go in opposite directions so still look a bit random. It’s amazing how much effort random-that-isn’t-really-random takes. The only thing I tried not to do but couldn’t help was always having a bright blue dotty square next to an elephant square, it just wouldn’t work!

The corners of the squares don’t all meet perfectly, but none so badly that I felt it was worth unpicking and redoing, as I thought the same thing was likely to happen again, or I’d be worse off than before. This is the worst of them, so on the whole I’m quite pleased

baby quilt corner

Now I just have to hope that quilting it doesn’t ruin everything!

Oh, and I washed the quilt top after I’d made it because the fabric felt a bit rough and I wasn’t going to wash the squares first because of fraying, and it seems to have survived okay.

3 more autumn blocks

I made these over a couple of months, I think Nov – Dec., but thought I’d save them up to post them all together and a lot of time seems to have passed, with some intervening Christmas projects too. The last one is a rather wintery autumn, but I don’t care, I like it! Though whether the shade of green in it will tone with the other blocks is another matter…

I think these are blocks 47-49.

animalschrysanth2winter stag

The dark tan fabric that appears in all three, and the brown with a red and tan pattern that is in the first and last images, were both bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show I went to at Alexandra Palace in London in October and are by Moda. Don’t think I’ll be repeating the ‘Ally Pally’ experience, it was more expensive than the one at London Olympia I’ve been to in March and the heating was on so high I felt really ill at one point. I wasn’t the only one, judging from the red-faced persons fanning themselves; not much fun. Anyway, the fabrics with pine needles on are ones I bought in an online sale maybe last year and bought up what they had left to make a Christmas quilt one day, though I could have done with a bit more but it’s discontinued. I think they’re Holly Taylor for Moda. I really like her colour schemes.

In retrospect I’m not that keen on the middle one with the chrysanthemum, maybe a bit too brown, even though it is an autumn-themed quilt, there’s something depressingly 1970s living room about it, but I hope it’ll fit in with the rest okay.

I took all the blocks to show my Mum when I went to see the parents before Christmas, and we decided I need 14 more as well as the one I’m doing. So it must be 8 x 8 blocks though I forgot to count! The one I’m working on also has animals on it. Then I’m going to have to take stock again, count how many of the two different designs of block I have so I’ve got an even number at the end of it (!) and try and plan the next ones carefully. There are a few fabrics I’ve only used once and would rather include them in more than one block, for example, but then again there are some I used at the beginning that I wouldn’t choose now, like ones with a white background which aren’t great in an autumn quilt.

However, at home I’m making a baby quilt for my husband’s brother’s new baby, which was born on Saturday, so will of course prioritise that, then get down to the block planning. There’s also the pyjama bottoms I’m going to make for my brother and have bought the fabric for, so want to get on with those while the weather’s still cold, as it’s a warm brushed cotton fabric. So whether I’ll be able to plan blocks as well I’m not sure, could be it has to wait until February. Well, there are worse problems!

 

Christmas pyjamas!

 

It’s Christmas Eve! We’re in a self-catering cottage in the English Lake District, where the views and the wildlife are amazing.

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I finished the hems on my Christmas pyjamas in brushed cotton.

Though I think I made them a size too big I’m still pleased with them and think they’re the best of the three garments I’ve made. I won’t wear them to bed but they’re nice to sit around in – loose and comfortable! The pattern’s a New Look multi-option and unisex pattern. I don’t know the manufacturer of the lovely fabric, but bought it online from Croft Mill, at a reasonable £5.50 per metre.

The pattern has pockets, which I thought would be hard to do but it was ok.

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I’ve also today posted to Mum and Dad a patchwork quilted mat I made for them, to put underneath a nice red glass bowl they’ve got standing on a polished wood sideboard.

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The fabrics are by Moda and came in a pack of 6 inch squares I bought on eBay then cut into quarters. I love the rich autumn / winter reds and greens. I used it as an opportunity to try some freestyle machine quilting (no idea if that’s the right terminology, I was going to write freemotion, but is that only when you use a long arm machine?), by drawing a leaf vine design on with chalk. Unfortunately I kept not being able to see the lines, partly because sewing at night when even electric light on good enough. Some leaves turned out quite well, others not so much, with spaces where they join the ‘stem’, or zig-zaggy loops. The light’s not the only reason for that, though!

Anyway, I enjoyed doing it and the project’s a nice size to practise on. I’d like to be able to make the same pattern on the double bed autumn quilt I’ve been working on for years, but don’t think it’s possible!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to walking to Grasmere tomorrow to go to church, where Wordsworth’s buried so I assume also worshipped. Then a roast dinner using the small oven in the cottage, but no pressure to have it ready by a certain time as there’s just the two of us. Ooo, Carols from King’s has started – Happy Christmas everyone!

Christmas projects

I finished the jumper I was knitting my Dad for Christmas, which had to be done early as I was staying with parents last week so wanted to leave it with them to be opened on Christmas Day. It’s too big! Which is to say, I am gifting my father a large cable knit tent, with the expectation he wear it. The irony is that I started knitting the next size down and after about 50 rows decided it was going to be too small so pulled it out and started again. I’d bang my head on the desk but a) it wouldn’t solve anything, b) it would hurt, and c) what brains I have have been scrambled enough already.

Dadjumper

This is the second jumper I’ve knitted in this yarn, Rowan Hemp Tweed, and thought I knew how it behaved, and even shortened the sleeves slightly because I know I knit sleeves too long in chunky yarns, but in the end I just misjudged the relative sizes of father and jumper.

The pattern is from Martin Storey’s Easy Aran Knits. There were some errors in the pattern, fortunately easily noticeable, e.g. the rib at cuffs and hem was described as being row 1: K3, [P2, K2] to end; row 2: P3, [K2, P2] to end, whereas row 2 should have been [P2, K2] to last 3 stitches, P3. Actually, that was it apart from one regarding the number of stitches on the holder when making the neckband, but I’d have to double-check before defaming the pattern writer! I once met him for 10 seconds at a Knitting & Stitching Show and he was very pleasant.The cable design’s lovely.

Dadcable

This is the first garment I’ve made with a shoulder saddle and sleeve extensions, to be sewn up at the back. Never having done that before I found it difficult and I think the end result’s a bit bulky, maybe I used the wrong stitch when sewing. The neck also looks small, but it feels okay on (I tried it on to see how big it was on me, seeing as we’re I think the same height now). The sleeves dangled beyond the ends of my fingers.

Dadjumperneck

In other Christmas projects, I’ve been making myself a pair of pyjama bottoms in a Christmas fabric. The third ‘dressmaking’ project I’ve attempted, neither of the first two having been spot on, and I wanted to avoid tailoring or fasteners, so pj bottoms seemed the way to go! Found a fantastic brushed cotton fabric at a reasonable price at Croft Mills online fabric shop (U.K.). Some brushed cottons are £10 a metre, which I didn’t want to pay, this was £5-something.

It’s a 5-option multi-pattern thing so the pattern took a lot of reading. Mistakes made include: misreading pattern so that I thought two small circles next to each other symbolised button holes (for the tie to feed through). Fortunately the symbols mean a gap had to be left there in the seam, so all was not lost. This is the first time I’d made button holes on a sewing machine and it was great! Thanks to the buttonhole making facility on my Singer sewing machine. Took me three attempts to get it to work because I didn’t realise you have to pull down a lever, and I put the metal plate on the buttonhole foot at the wrong side of the fabric, but fortunately it didn’t seem to matter. Here they both are on one leg, taken on the wrong side where the interfacing is to make it easier to see: the buttonhole where it’s meant to be, and where it isn’t! buttonhole

The pattern includes pockets, and it took me hours one Saturday afternoon to fathom out the construction on one leg, but once done the second leg was really quick. These are the legs under construction, showing fabric on right and wrong sides:

legs

And a pocket:

pocket

I managed sewing the centre seam joining the legs (done twice for strength as per instructions), but sewing the outer seam, not so much. Ahem. Managed to sew the legs together on one side. Thought they looked strangely like a skirt, which could not be right. Bit like the time I sewed a jumper sleeeve to its body…

At least I realised when I’d only sewed one seam and not two! I’ve nearly finished now and have only the hems to finish. The pyjamas are also too big but I’ve tightened the elastic and it’s passable. I’d like to make them again in the smaller size. I’ll post a picture when they’re finished. It’s a unisex pattern and I’d like to make a pair for my brother (in a different fabric of course) because I think the size I made would fit him nicely, but he didn’t look overly enthusiastic when I showed him these. Can’t think why. I might make some anyway, but the only fabric I liked is in the US so P&P would cost a lot. It’s his birthday in April, I’ll try for then. And try not to sew the legs together. Lucky him, tee hee.

Snowmen

I’ve been making snowman Christmas tree decorations for the church I go to to sell at its Christmas Tree Festival. Thank goodness I’ve finished! They’re knitted in 4 ply wool and are around 2 inches high. They take ages to make, the arms in particular, which have to be rolled up and sewn down the edge before being sewn onto the body. The pattern was published in the Woman’s Weekly magazine when I was a small child and is by Jean Greenhowe. Mum knits these too and used to sell them at craft fairs. She adapted the pattern though, as the original pattern is for double knitting and had the head and body separated by tying wool around the outside whereas Mum threads it through the stitches when she reaches that point in the knitting. The original pattern had a broom, but that’s a step too far when one is trying to mass produce them! Downsizing to 4 ply meant the hat pattern had to be changed too.

snowmen1

My Mum is a master of the art of snowman making, and kindly made lots and posted them to me for the church sale. As you can see, hers are more colourful, squidgy, smiley, and it has to be said, more popular (hmph!), than mine:

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She also made a few ‘snowman pops’ from a magazine pattern, just heads. So these are they in total:

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The church sale is in three weekends’ time but I’m away both for it and the weekend before, so had to deliver them to the lady who organises the sale either last weekend or next, so was pleased to do it last weekend as I’m running out of time for a number of other things, including knitting a jumper for Dad for Christmas. These photos are a bit dark because I took it on Saturday night when I’d finished the last one before delivering them on Sunday morning. Ugh, it was 11.30 p.m. when I finshed, suffering from Snowman Induced Fatigue Syndrome (SIFS), a rare condition, known to exist in only one person.

Mind you, it doesn’t help that I had to knit extra because I kept becoming attached to ones I’d made, especially if they have cute smiles. Here’s one that’s going to be on my tree this year!

snowman

Jumper(s) in Rowan Hemp Tweed

I finished the jumper I’d been knitting for myself in Rowan Hemp Tweed, shade ‘pine’. Blocking definitely made a difference to the finish of the piece. I like the feel of the yarn, warm but not heavy. The only down side to working with it is that there are sharp bits that have to be pulled out, but pulling them out doesn’t seem to damage the yarn.

The pattern’s ‘Gotland’ by Lisa Richardson. I had to pull out some of one sleeve and reduce the number of rows in the shaping of the upper arm, because it was too long, which is usual for jumpers I make for myself. I don’t think I’ve got unnaturally short arms, just that my knitting is loose! Often the pattern has shaping and then you have to continue straight to ‘x’ cms but I find that by the time I’ve finished the shaping I’m already at ‘x’ cms. Here I did have to continue straight but when I finished the whole sleeve it was too long, so I pulled out and made some decreases that were to be on every 8th row, on every 6th row instead. It seems to have worked okay. It’s unusual for me to have completed a handknit garment that’s actually in a colour that’s ‘in’ this season, but lots of people are wearing nice shades of green, a colour I like (in certain shades) so I’m quite pleased!

Gotland

I like the detailing at neck, hem, and cuffs. I need to wear round necked jumpers because, ironically, wool makes my neck itch!

In double-quick time, I’m making my Dad a jumper in Rowan Hemp Tweed for Christmas. More accurately, I’m making it in time to go and stay with my parents in early December so I can take it with me, so I’m practically doing endurance knitting! It was disheartening when I decided I was making the wrong size so had to pull out 4 or 5 days’ worth of knitting, but am now nearly finished the front.

I’m making the front first because the pattern is for cabling to front and back but I don’t like it on the back in this pattern so am going to make it plain, but am concerned that will affect the width so thought I’d make the front first so I could hold the back against it when I’ve done a few rows past the hem and see if it looks okay. Don’t know what I’ll do if it isn’t, as I don’t want the number of stitches to be wrong for the armholes, so imagine I’ll plough on regardless, but there we go!

Cable

On Saturday I’m going to a knitting event in central London, ‘yarnporium’. Not that I need to go, I’ve a mountainous stash and it’s a day not knitting (another reason for working fast at Dad’s jumper) or working in the allotment, but curiousity overcame my common sense.

Birds on a string

Not real ones! Mum bought me, as a Christmas present, Carolyn Forster’s ‘Little Quilts and Gifts from Jelly Roll Scraps’, along with a pack of batik jelly rolls in greens and blues. So I thought it would be nice to make something from it for Mum for her birthday, and I liked this decoration, like ones you see in a gift shop, with three stylised birds. Not that I suppose she has a great need for birds on a string, but never mind!

The book has pages of templates for the patterns, thought for some, including the body for the bird, the templates are reproduced at 50%, but I found my village shop has a photocopier so that was okay. (Took me about half a dozen attempts to position it correctly, but we won’t go there).

The pattern calls for a certain length of three jelly roll strips to be sewn together, using the usual quarter inch seam, then the body template drawn and sewn round on the back of the fabric, with a gap at the bottom for stuffing later.IMGP1875 outline

I’m not that handy with a sewing machine but surprisingly only had a couple of re-does.

Then it was cut out about 1/4 inch from the lines, turned inside out and stuffed, the hole then whip-stitched closed. The seam of one came open because I stuffed it too hard, so that had to be re-done.

before stuffing

I did enjoy choosing the fabric, all of which came from my stash – the dark blue from the batiks Mum gave me, the rest just fat quarters I fancied! I think all the ones from my stash are Makower. I was particularly chuffed with the fabric with little birds making up a bigger bird.

The wings are created from another template, but are sort-of quilted, not stuffed. The two pieces are placed front-outwards either side of a piece of wadding, then the template sewn round and the end result cut round with pink shears. I think I cut mine too close to the sewing line, if there was a next time I wouldn’t do that.

wing

This fabric came from the short-sleeved top I sewed last year (or was it the year before?), I only used it once, on the wings of one bird, but I had to feel like I was making a stab at using leftovers!

The wings were attached by sewing a button on and then using a doll needle to go right through the body of the bird. I had great fun choosing the buttons, though the ones with cherry blossom style tree branches on probably cost more than the rest of it put together (slight exaggeration)!

The hardest bit was pushing the cord through. Choosing the right width of cord and beads online was tricky, the cord didn’t go through the eye of the doll needle so I had to use a tapestry needle, get it just through, and then my husband got the point with pliers and yanked. My heart in my mouth in case it ripped a huge hole in the whole thing. I’ve since bought a mattress needle, which may do the trick were I to make any more, but I don’t know. Also angling the direction the cord went through so they hung more or less horizontally was a learning curve, the first time I did it I pushed through vertically, but of course the head is heavier so it pointed steeply forwards, so that I had to be taken out.

I’m pleased with the end result, it was a good project for part of the week’s holiday I had, and most importantly, Mum claims to like them!

bird string 1bird string 2

I only hung them by the window to get enough light for a photo, or they’d fade, and I know they aren’t at the window in their new home.