Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mystery Quilt Unveiled

Remember that mystery quilt I told you about?

I bought British Patchwork and Quilting magazine a couple of weeks ago (before I made the stripy bag), but I've kept it in a plastic bag inside another bag, until I got round to experimenting with the blocks. I did that this week, and came up with one that made the pale yellow blocks work with the darker green. I was certain this was not their design, but it felt like a good one.

I've now looked at their design: it was completely different. They said the smaller blocks could be combined in several ways, but their design did not resemble my layouts in any way, whatsoever. One big difference was that my two pattern blocks were both green, whereas their pattern blocks were two different colours. At some point, I'll show you a photo of my blocks in their layout, and one in my layout. I haven't taken it yet though ;-).

I went to the quilt show organised by Inca Studio with a friend yesterday. She is a professional quilter, and she looked at quilts in a different way to me. I tend to ignore the actual quilting, but she studied it closely. She could also tell which patterns were from a book, and if they were exact copies (down to the colours). Apparently it is unusual for a new patchworker to be able to mentally change colours of designs. Another thing she could do was spot 'old' fabric ranges from five or so years ago. I didn't realise there was such a turnaround: will this have a disasterous effect on my stash as I panic buy fabrics I think I might like to use one day?

There was one quilt that did use older fabrics: I recognised one from my youth - a green background, with blue flowers and one spots. Somewhere there are some Sindy doll clothes made from it. Another fabric was the instructions from a panel for making a toy or similar, and a different fabric probably dates from 1992, as it had the dates of 1492 and 1992 on it.

I did buy some fabric (maybe piccies later), but I've discovered if you do take a professional along with you, their purchases will make whatever you buy seem like small change.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No resemblance really

No, I haven't been knitting quickly:

brown and cream yarn on a brown and cream knitted background

I was however struck by the resemblance between the yarn I bought in my trip to the Yarn House, about two weeks ago, and the cardigan I bought nearly five years ago. I had completely forgotten about the cardigan when I was yarn buying, but obviously I must like the colour combination.

In other news, I am unlikely to get to S'n'B tonight. So, anyone who goes, have fun and knit lots.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Meet my new bag

Meet my new bag. Green stripes for project spectrum, of course.

bag with green wavy stripes

It's taken from the design of the button bag which I found via Tote-along blog.

The size was based purely on the size of the material, an upholstery remnant, bought on Tuesday for the sum of £2.

I got another remnant at the same time: this was originally going to be the lining and the other remnant the outside of the bag. After studying various designs, I wanted to use webbing for the handles of the other bag, hence the change of plan.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Socks

Compared to most sock yarn stashes on the internet, mine is tiny - a mere four balls.
4 balls of sock yarn

The entire collection came from a fabric and yarn shop in Ghent, Belgium - Stoffenidee on Hoogpoort. The shop sold a good range of yarn, including roving, Noro, Rowan, a variety of yarns from mainland Europe and the biggest range of sock yarns I'd ever seen. I'd used my entire knowledge of Flemish ("Spreekt u Engels?"), and had a 'conversation' about knitting with one of the assistants, checked the appropriate amounts for a pair of socks, and bought other yarn for other plans.

There had been a slight hitch though: a complete lack of a good, basic pattern. Most free sock patterns on the internet seemed to start "if you're bored of plain socks, try this pattern". I didn't have a plain sock pattern to be bored of, and the only way of finding one seemed to be to buy a sock kit. Last year I mentioned this problem to Tracey and she handed me one. I also got one from Web of Wool, when I bought some needles from them.

I started on Monday, using the orange-based yarn. Both patterns said to cast on 60 stitches, but I cast on 56, because my feet are relatively small. I made sure it was untwisted, then started my first row.
ribbing of sock, orange, brown, cream and pinkA few stitches in, I looked at the suggested gauge, and realised it was more stitches per centimeter then my patterns allowed. Fifty-six stitches would be too few. Tinkety-tink went my needles and a few extra stitches followed. By the end of Monday, I'd done Row 1 of ribbing.
Tuesday got me up to Row 3 (it wasn't that they were difficult, I just wasn't spending much time on them). However, I was starting to get worried - Look at the big orange blob! Pooling! Pooling in my sock!

I was tempted to undo it, and start again. However, I reminded myself it was an experiment. Better to continue, practise the tricky parts and then frog.

Yesterday, I carried on. The pooling continued. However it was rather interesting. Each row had some of the pinks or browns at the start of the orange pool, and the pool finished just a bit further over. It was fascinating to see the same amount of overlap on each row. In fact, it was forming a spiral. My socks were going to have an orange spiral in a bed of multishaded pinks and browns.

The yarn was designed to pool and spiral like this!!!

more ribbing of sock, brown, cream and pink with diagonal orange stripe

My almost non-existant Flemish had bought me a really fun sock yarn!

I'll probably end up re-doing it, because it looks too small. But it is so much fun. My guess is that the slope of the spiral will be steeper now it has got to the stocking stitch part. I'd love to see what this yarn would do with some of the other sock patterns out there.

Technical stuff from the ball-band:

  • Yarn brand: Annell Color Super extra
  • Colour 2991, dye lot 60187
  • 75% Wol-Laine Superwash (wool) 25% polyamide
  • 50g /210m
  • Tension 30 stitches/44 rows to 10 cm
  • Needle/hook 2.5 - 3.0 mm
  • Available on-line (not in this colour) here

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Trip to the Yarn House in Caterham

two balls of kimino angora
I normally go to Caterham two or three times a decade, so I'd noted The Yarn House in Caterham-on-the-Hill as a interesting looking yarn shop. As it happened, this year I'd been close on a number of occasions, and in February bought the ill-fated Noro Kureyon there. The only reason I hadn't gone back to the shop was that I hadn't been that near for a while.

Saturday was the day of my triannual trip to the area: I was undecided about going, mainly because I didn't have any desire to buy more Kureyon. Maybe another time, but not yet.

On the other hand, it was only about 300 yards off my route, and has a free car park about 200 yards from the shop. I had 10 minutes to spare. I also wanted another look and feel of some Louisa Harding Kimino Angora I'd seen whan I bought the Kureyon. If it was as nice as I remembered, I wanted to make wristwarmers with it. (I know May is the wrong time of year for wrist warmers. But who cares?)

So I stopped at the shop.

I like the Yarn House. It has a good selection of high end yarns, such as Rowan, Red Rooster (a new brand), Debbie Bliss, Artesano Alpaca and Louisa Harding. There was some hand-dyed yarn as well, but as I didn't have time to choose it carefully, I merely nodded at it in passing.

One thing that would make it a good LYS is it has a huge collection of old knitting magazines. Extremely useful if you want to make something from a past issue of a magazine and haven't got a note of the amounts needed. I didn't test it, but they might even know the quantities for on-line patterns such as clapotis.

The staff were friendly, although it is one of these places where you don't know if the people gossiping round the table are staff or merely visit so often that they almost seem like staff. I was asked if I needed help, but when I said I didn't, they left me looking.

Kimono Angora feels beautifully soft and fluffy, and not at all itchy when I rubbed it on my wrist. I was hooked, and the only difficulty now was to choose the colour. All the ones on display were gorgeous, but the two obvious choices was an unusual camoflage/khaki combination or a series of browns, ranging from beige through caramel to deep brown. The latter won out.

After I had paid for my two balls, I said I wanted it for wristwarmers, and the shop keeper said she thought I only needed one ball. She produced a Louisa Harding book, and looked up a pattern: I can't remember if one was enough, because I wanted two balls regardless.

My trip was a success, and I didn't have any last minute regrets about the Kureyon, because they didn't have the same shade on the shelf.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Kureyon has a lovely wooly feel, soft in that slightly scratchy way some wool has. I was willing to forgive it much for that wooliness.

Here it is early on, before it had shown its' true nature.

first few rows of scarf

It wasn't a perfect scarf even then - the turns of first few short rows had been done incorrectly (my fault, not the pattern's). When I changed to doing them correctly, the angle between the two colours changed, and the scarf no longer lay flat. But I could live with that.

I could live with the way it varied between fluffy and too thin.

I was slightly annoyed when I realised that the really fluffy section knitted just after this photo hid a knot, which also reversed the colour sequence. Blue to pink to blue - that isn't too bad though. I could live with that.

I could live with the way that when I changed balls, the end of Ball One was very dark drab brown and the start of Ball Two was brilliant lime green, a discordant colour change. I frogged a dozen rows, rejiggered the colour change and continued...

Then came the transgression too far: ball two also had a break in the yarn, knotted together causing a sudden colour change half a triangle from the start of the ball.

It was just one thing too many. I do have two more balls, but peering at the end, they look like the colour sequence is the same and that they start at more or less the same spot. Ideal for sleeves, if you like your sleeves to match a bit. I don't want to waste that pairing on a scarf.

Kureyon is nice wool, nice colours. But the knots - two out of two balls with knots? Will it become three out of three, four out of four balls?

I put my knitting down for the rest of the evening.

I learnt something about myself. I know I like ordered symmetry. I know I like randomness. I now know I don't like nearly order, fake order.

But I don't know if I like Kureyon enough to buy some more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Guessing a mystery quilt

I've told you a bit about my mystery quilt from Popular Patchwork, here and here.

I've now done parts two and three, and am waiting to get part four when the magazine comes out on Friday. I won't give you details, on the off chance anyone is doing the same mystery and has found their way here. But I was right when I thought the 3 7/8 inch squares would end up as half square triangles, and wrong when I said the yellow squares would be joined to green squares.

Here is a tiny snippet of some of my fabrics: all the greens, and the neutral.

three green materials and a cream one

I had a go at seeing what combination it could be, and fairly quickly came up with one. It almost put itself together, and I nearly like it. I think I can describe, without giving away the secrets: a central square, surround by a yellow border, surrounded by a green and cream border, with the outer edging of cabbages.

I don't like it for two reasons: the corners are pale, and I think they might look better with my darkest fabric. The yellow border seems too pale in comparison to the rest of the colours.

Maybe the final quilt will be different. Maybe it will be almost the same. Maybe I'll swop the dark green for a lighter green and redo those blocks, or maybe I'll swop the light yellow for a darker one, and redo those ones. Or maybe I'll say "that's life" and have it just as it is.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ingenious Ideas

Aren't there times when you find a new idea and you think "WOW", because it is just so clever and ingenious.

I had not one, but two of those moments on Friday.

The first was when I was sewing together the blocks for my "leaf" quilt , from British Patchwork and Quilting, Nov 2005 issue. They called it "New Hampshire Autumn" on the cover and "New Hampshire Fall" inside: it is made of maple leaf patchwork blocks in different sizes. Those blocks have triangle points at the edge of the block, often simply known as "points". It is the sign of a practised quilter if her points are sharp, rather then having the tip cut off.

I was machining along, trying to get the point of the triangle under the tip of the needle, when I realised I had a guideline. I didn't need to look at where the needle was, all I needed to do was line up the point with the space in the sewing machine foot. It would then automatically be in the right place when it got to the needle.

The other WOW moment came when I found a reference to a quilt made out of "leader/enders". These sounded intriguing so I googled, and found myself here.

Basically when you use a sewing machine, you need about 6cm of top and bottom thread extra at the start. If you are making lots of patchwork pieces, this could waste lots of thread. So most people use chain peicing - after you sew one pair together, you don't cut the thread, but feed the next pair through with only a very small gap, and keep going like that. Eventually though, you sew together the last set of pieces you can logically sew, and you have to cut the threads, and waste those few centimeters.

Bonnie's idea is that when you get to the point where you have to stop, you get another pair, perhaps of scraps cut into squares, and sew them together as the last part of the chain. If you do as much sewing as she does, you get lots of bits sewn together almost without effort, and end up with lots of patchwork blocks ready to turn into another quilt top.

I haven't done any sewing since then, but I did have a rummage in my mum's scrap bag, and came home with several green bits that I can start this idea with. Not yet cut out though - I can't decide whether I ought to do "shaded four patches", or just simple half square triangles. Actually, now I write that out, I think I will do some of both.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kureyon makes up its' mind

Four balls of Kureyon wool by Noro

These four balls are all the yarn I've bought this year - in fact all I've bought since last October.

I wasn't sure what to make with them: they were got so I could find out whether I come into the category of people who love Kureyon, or who hate it. So I needed something to knit with them. A booga bag was a reasonable idea, but to some extent, I can't see the point in knitting something just to felt it. In addition, I have enough plain stocking stitch to keep me going for a very long time.

It began to get more urgent: the shop I got them is some way away, and I will be passing it in about 10 days time. If I want to get more I need to make a decision soon. That means starting to knit nowish.

I didn't want to do anything plain garter or stocking stitch, and some of the patterns based on mitred squares just look messy with Noro yarns. What could I do instead?

I searched for inspiration and found it in the picture here. Actually, it wasn't that picture, but it is the same scarf, using a different Noro yarn. Other pictures are here and here. Aren't they gorgeous?

They are all pictures of Karen Baumer's Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf and they really show the striping well.

So far it is going well. I cast on using 5.5mm needles, and I'm using 33 stitches.

For what it's worth, runner up patterns included Edgar and one from MagKnits.