Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Two Done, One to Go!

My mom has put in requests for three aprons.  One was easy.  She had me copy a chef's style apron that fit her well.  I made the first one last year and completed another last month.  The next request was a challenge.  
When I saw her for her birthday in October, she had an ad for a smock type apron.  With the renewed popularity of aprons, you think it would be easy to find a pattern for a smock but googling didn't bring much success and none were in the pattern books for the major companies, either.

With the help of some internet friends, I located a vintage Kwik Sew pattern for a zip front smock.  It didn't have a yoke, gathers, or buttons; but with a picture of a pattern insert from another vintage pattern, I made adaptions to the Kwik Sew pattern and now my mom will have her smock.  

Next, but with no immediate pressure, will be an apron she can wear next fall and on Halloween when she answers the door to trick or treaters.  Mom used to dress up as a witch until she scared her one and only a few years ago in her old neighborhood.   Since she moved, her new location is very popular and she lamented she wished she at least had a special apron for the occasion.
The toddler apron is for the cutie who smiles at you up in the corner.  My daughter is giving him some small but real cooking utensils for Christmas.  I promised a chef's apron.  I need to complete a matching hand towel, next.  

If you like the embroidery design, you can find it at Embroidery Library.  This is from a set for the "fruits of the spirit."  They offer the design for both small and large hoops.  I reduced the design from the large pack to fit the pocket with no problems.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stay Calm!

Make your own poster:  Keep Calm-o-matic

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spiral Rib

I needed a spiral rib for socks with 30 stitches on each of 2 circular needles so I charted it in Excel.  Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

National Tie One On Day!

Get in the spirit of giving aprons!  Join in the fun, creating memories of special people, aromas, and occasions spent in the kitchen :  

Cranking Out Aprons, Litterally

In recent months, my husband and I have been blessed with some great hospitality provided by some very special hostesses.  To show our appreciation, I have been busy making aprons.  

With two fabrics and rick-rack, I was frequently changing thread to match.  I finally decided, with so many machines in the house, why not use two.  The one I chose was a hand crank model that was already in the sewing room and fit easily on the end of my small sewing table.  Also, it doesn't add to the tangle of cords running under or across the table.  I love sewing on a hand crank machine.  It is so relaxing.
Today, I finished another apron for our 4-H silent auction.  Both apron patterns appear in Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates.  I can't wait to get her latest apron book, Mother and Daughter Aprons.  Maybe I am dreaming there is a little girl in my future?  ;)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Binding Magic

I often get asked how I get my binding on potholders and placemats so even.  DH thinks when I make them, I am practicing voodoo.  ;)  The secret to my success is lots of pins!!  

I make my own 1/2 inch wide double fold binding from 2 inch wide bias strips and a Clover Bias Tape Maker.  I don't recommend any other brand of bias makers.  The Clover brand makes a better fold than any of the others I have tried.

Before applying the binding I zigzag the raw edges of the potholder or placemat together.  This gives a nice firm and secure edge with nothing that will get caught in the seam when attaching the binding.

After zigzagging the edges of the potholder or placemat, I open up one fold of the binding, pin to the back side, stretching slightly as I round the corner, and then sew in the crease of the fold.  Rounded corners are easier than square because you don't have to miter.  If you plan the overlap where the binding meets, for a spot where the fabric in the face block blends or matches with the binding, it won't be as noticeable.  Once the binding is attached to the back side, I fold it over the raw edges to the front for the final pass of stitching. 
View from the back side with one fold open:  Pins perpendicular to the edge are easier to pull out and can be spaced close to prevent puckers and pleats.

My binding is attached just like shown for the Retro Fun Quilted Mitts.  But, I pin like crazy and I generally choose to use either my Pfaff 7570 or Davis VF.  Both machines have an upper feed system that insures the multiple layers move between the presser foot and throat plate without puckers and folds.  You could choose to use a walking foot attachment, too, but some machines have multiple feed dogs to ensure even feeding.  You may not need to use a walking foot to avoid puckers.

It doesn't matter if you pin from the inside or the outside, just catch the binding and the top layer to prevent distortion.
Unless you really have the Midas Touch with a sewing machine, I recommend you zigzag topstitch the binding down on the last pass.  Thirty years ago in a quilted jacket class, a master seamstress told us that unless you hand stitch the binding down, it will never be perfect by machine.  Instead, if you must use a machine, zigzag; it will look "straighter" than if you tried to straight stitch it in place.  I have faithfully followed that advice because the binding is never exactly the same on the front and the back and straight stitching just accentuates all of the inconsistencies on the back side.  Additionally, if your machine likes invisible thread, you can use it to mask the faults.

Note:  If you like to hand stitch, just reverse the side you sew the binding on in the first pass.  Sew to the front and flip to the back, then use a hand blind-stitch to sew down the binding in place of zigzag.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Price of Socks

Don't under price your hand-styled socks!  Designer socks are bringing in big bucks!  Some look like something sold at any outdoor store

DH says mine are easily worth $200 and he is right, I knit so slowly, I have way too many hours in them but I knit in the evening when I was just hanging out on the internet and when I am riding in the car.  I have reclaimed time.  ;)

Oh, if you really want people to notice your socks, make sure you have shoes that show them off.  Comfort and style meet in the new Mary Jane fitness style shoes.  I chose the budget version from Kmart at 19.99.  ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Socks with a Picot Hem

Finished Picot Hem

These socks needed something a little different after being knit in ribbing.  The picot hem was the perfect finish.  I switched from K4P2 ribbing to stockinette for the width of the lavender stripe.  Then I repeated [K2tog,YO] for the folding row.  The next row was K, including the YO's.  Lastly, came K3P3 ribbing for the width of the lavender stripe, followed by a stretchy bindoff.  I tacked the hem over with a cross stitch needle (fine tapestry needle with a blunt tip) threaded with woolly nylon serger thread (one could split the fingering yarn into strands as an alternative).  Every inch, I stopped to stretch the hem so there would be enough slack in the woolly nylon to fit my leg.  I also kept the whip stitches short to prevent my fingers from snagging them when I put on the socks.  These socks are only a little over 5 inches long in the leg.  They stay up without additional support from elastic thread caught in the ribbing rows, an optional addition for longer socks on thin legs.

Picot Hem after the Socks Come off the Needles
Picot Hem Tacked in Place with Woolly Nylon Serger Thread

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Waffle Rib Socks are Done!

I actually finished these socks in time for show and tell on August 21.  My SIL and I had fun sharing our sock knitting progress.  I love her soft wool socks made from Knit Picks' Stroll yarn.  And guess what I just discovered at Knit PicksYarn suitable for dying!  Yes, I am itching to try dying my own sock yarn.  I'll be stocking up on Kool Aid and Wilton's food coloring gels.  Keep you all posted on the results.

Connecticut Yankee Block

Free Quilting Clipart
I just saw the Connecticut Yankee block.  I like the positive negative effect and the possibilities for a scrap quilt.  While the block can be pieced traditionally with templates, I thought you might like a foundation paper pieced version.  Click on the block to get the bmp sized for a 6.5 inch block, then right click and save.  Using 4, you will have a 12.5 inch block.  Or use the 4.5 inch block below for a 8.5 inch block.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Never too Much Fabric, Right?

I say I am not going to buy more fabric, but I have done it again.  A bag, not huge but not small, has been collecting since the first of May when we on vacation.  I can't stay away from the stuff but I have enough! 

Even if this video won't cure the addiction, it will bring a smile:

Too Much Knitting!

Last week I had to stop knitting for a few days due to tendonitis in my right wrist.  SIGH!!  Of course I was able to get some much needed work done but still I missed making progress on the new socks on my needles.  What to do???

I let my wrist take a break and then I started in with some exercises.  I had a few stretches that I was familiar with but ultimately, strengthening the muscles is beneficial.  Here are a few links to get your started with improving the strength and flexibility in your hands and the supporting muscles:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Waffle Rib Instead

The intended zigzag rib that I mentioned in my previous entry, was far too complicated.  The pattern had a repeat of 20 rounds!  And I thought the wiggly bubble texture was a challenge!  

I don't need any more mind benders with the reasons for 4-H judging classes needing my attention. The waffle rib is easy and brainless.  The version I came up with that works for this weight yarn is for multiples of 3; knit 2, purl 1 for four rounds, then purl the 5th round.  Repeat the 5 rounds.  The stretch is enough to work through the leg portion of the sock.  I need the give if I make my socks the standard 7 inches.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Real Socks!

This is the first pair of socks with real sock yarn.  The first two pair were from yarn labeled worsted weight.  I can't believe I actually managed to knit with fingering weight yarn.  It isn't as bad I as I once thought.

The textured design is actually a mistake.  I found a spiral rib that looked fun but it was written for straight needles.  When I wrote it for circs, I made a few errors and ended up with a wiggly bubbly effect that is very stretchy.  I liked it so much, I didn't tear it out and rewrite.  The only down side was trying to duplicate the pattern when I dropped stitches.  It was a real effort for my brain to think backwards through the pattern to pick the stitches up with a small crotchet hook. 

Wiggly Bubble Rib (multiples of 4)
Rnd 1: *Knit 2, Purl 2; rep from *
Rnd 2: *Purl 2, Knit 2; rep from *
Rnd 3: Knit 1, *Purl 2, Knit 2; rep from *, end Purl 2, Knit 1
Rnd 4: Rep rnd 3
Rnd 5: *Purl 2, Knit 2; rep from *
Rnd 6: Rep rnd 5
Rnd 7: Rep rnd 3
Rnd 8: Rep rnd 3

The next pair of socks will have a zigzag rib up the top of the foot and around the leg.  It is a cool pattern written for circs in Socks a la carte.  I can't wait to get my copy of the new version written for toe up socks, Socks a la carte 2.

Friday, June 25, 2010

10th Annual Quilt Camp

What an amazing week! And a wonderful group of family and volunteer helpers!

Want to host a quilting camp in your area? Click the link below for info on obtaining the complete curriculum on CD. The curriculum was written under the direction of Washington State 4-H staff and WSU AMDT faculty.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Purple Passion

The second pair of socks came off the needles on Wednesday night. They aren't perfect but they are very wearable, never-the-less, because the fit is great. I love the feel of the cotton blend yarn from Knit Picks. The socks are so soft and silky to the touch.

If I had them to do over, I would put in more lifelines. I forgot to put one in before I started the heel turn. I must have purled two stitches together because the slip stitch heel didn't line up in the sock underneath. Also, I wouldn't have changed the type of ribbing for the last inch of the cuff. The knit 4, purl 2 was stretchy enough and the density of the cotton keeps the socks up even though the second part of the cuff flares out due to the change in ribbing and the Aloha Cast-off. I will try the sewn bind-off, next time. Hopefully it will not flare the cuff of the sock.

Despite the fact that the yarn was labeled worsted weight, it easily knit up on US 2 needles, 7.5-8 stitches per inch, the gauge for DK weight. With sock yarn, I am going to have to move down to US 0 circulars. They are in the mail and since I have 4-H quilting camp next week, my attention is conveniently re-focused. ;) Guess I have to go back to knitting tawashis.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another Stretchy Bind-Off Technique

If you tried my little bag pattern, you may have used the Stretch Armstrong sewn bind-off technique. The above video shows a stretchy knit bind-off demonstrated by Cat Bordhi, a famous sock knitter and novelist. This one provides incredible stretch.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Going Stir Crazy/Sock Crazy

Since this month has been RAINY, I feel like my spring is slipping away and the heat of summer will break out in full force. I had to have a new distraction to brighten the gray days. Knitting socks has provided the perfect mental focus. I always thought they were way out of my league. All those little needles sticking out and tiny yarn tangling on the tips, how could that be fun?

This whole thing started with a question from my SIL on Mother's Day, "Have you ever knit socks?" My answer was, "No, because sock yarn is usually wool." But, I got to thinking with all the new fibers, surely knitters had more choices, like bamboo and cotton blends. So I went on a quest to find the best circular needles, the best sock method/book (no local yarn shops with classes), and sock yarn in blends less than 50% wool (I have allergies to wool fibers).

I posted an off topic question about circular needles on the treadle owners' list and it just sort of evolved from needles to books on knitting socks. One lady said the best book was The Crazy Toes and Heels Sock Book by Mary Ann Beattie. Her claim that I could knit socks with any yarn in my own gauge and two circular needles, no little needles sliding out and dropping tiny stitches; sold me. I joined the Yahoo help list and ordered the book.

Well, I must say, Mary Ann's method is easy. If you can knit and read instructions, socks are a moderate challenge with a worsted weight yarn. I now feel confident to try my second pair with finer yarn. And, yes, they will match this time. ;)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Digital Swatching

This tip came to me when I was knitting the swatch above for my next pair of socks. As a sock newbie, I wasn't totally sure how much yarn to buy and I didn't want to break my budget adding new yarns to the stash. Worrying that I may have purchased too little, I didn't want to waste yarn by cutting off my swatch, so I have it on a stitch holder, hooked to the sleeve of the yarn. If I run out of yarn, I can tear it out and use it without having to splice.

The picture of the swatch with the gauge will be added to my digital file on my projects. I am going to make a panoramic shot with a picture of the yarn sleeve, as well.

By the way, the yarn is Blackberry Comfy in worsted weight from Knit Picks. I am knitting on US 2 needles yielding a gauge of 6.5 - 7 stitches per inch. The yarn seems to be a bit finer than some worsted weight yarns and it is a bit less resilient because it is a cotton blend. Knitting on the US 2 needles makes it easy to get a good gauge for socks without knitting too tight on the needles. I just love the feel of the Comfy and it has a nice twist so it isn't spitting easily.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tribbles and Bits

You read right! It is Tribbles and bits and not dog food. I have been trying to use up my bits of scrap yarn. Tawashis (Japanese for scrubbie) caught my eye in a Threads blog newsletter. Their instructions were for crocheted tawashis. Since my knitting skills surpass my humble attempts to crochet, I googled for knitted versions. The Tribbles version appealed to me.

If you like the Tribbles, find the complete instructions here:


If you like to crochet, find that version for the Tribble here:


Now, if you take up using these fun little kitchen sponges, you might like to keep them free of germs. Research shows that zapping a wet cellulose sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes is most effective without using any chemical germ killers. Wet cotton and acrylic fibers can take the heat of the microwave but my sister-in-law tried a plastic sponge and it melted. She now uses only cellulose. Read the about the research here: