Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Friday, 14 December 2007
I enjoy the content of course, but as much as anything, it is delightful to listen to people who feel as passionately about their chosen pursuits as I do about mine. I don't really have that experience in my 'real' life. I don't have any close friends of my age who do any crafts at all, and although I have several older friends who do make things (the two I see regularly, who like to sew and dabble in dollshouses, are c. 65 and 85 years old respectively), it's not the same. So turning on the computer is like inviting a few talkative friends over to chat energetically with each other, while I sit quietly and work and enjoy listening. So here are a few of the online shows I listen to regularly:
Quilting- I don't know why, but there are virtually no quilting podcasts, which seems strange when there are hundreds of podcasts for knitters. Here are a couple I like.
Annie's Quilting Stash - A pattern designer and teacher, Annie seems to know a lot of people in the quilting world and does a lot of interviews and location visits. She is so enthusiastic about things, and asks some good interview questions. She also visits a lot of trade and quilting shows and reviews them.
Alex Anderson Quilt Connection - As the former host of Simply Quilts, Alex delivers a professional product, although she isn't podcasting as often now that she is co-hosting the online Quilt Show. A mixture of 'blog'-type catch-ups on her own life, and interviews with other notables in the quilting world.
Quilters News Network (QNN TV) - this isn't a podcast at all, but a site full of video-on-demand quilting shows. Recently they have moved to a subscription basis, but it is only $24 for a year so just a few dollars a month. This is well worth it to me, as we have no quilting programmes on TV here in the UK. So I really enjoy watching, or even just listening to, shows such as Quilt in a Day, Fons & Porter, Sewing with Nancy etc.
Knitting - the knitting world has just exploded with dozens, if not hundreds, of podcasts. Here are a few that I have tried and enjoyed:
Knit Picks Podcast - This podcast is so soothing and confidence-inspiring, like listening to a trusted newscaster who loves knitting. Professionally done and regularly published, combining a technical topic with book reviews, and with minimal 'advertising' despite the connection with the Knit Picks shop. I really like this one.
Lime 'n Violet - Although nominally about knitting, this fast-moving and possibly anarchic podcast is a conversation between two younger knitters which can veer wildly off the rails in many directions.
Stash & Burn - Again a conversation between two younger knitters, but calmer, and it makes me a bit jealous because I wish I had a friend like that who was as interested in craft things as I am. Jenny & Nicole have spent the year trying not to add to their yarn stash, with varying degrees of success. Much more on topic about knitting than Lime 'n Violet.
Sticks and String - A podcast by an Australian bloke who knits. Nuff said.
If you listen to a podcast that you think I might like - leave me a comment! My kitchen will thank you.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
After brooding over the work stuff for a few days (to the point where I had to make an emergency visit to the chiropractor today because my shoulder muscles were knotted so painfully), I have sent a formal note to my boss pointing out that retrospectively lowering my performance rating for 2007, when I was given no warning during the year, does not seem fair and reasonable, and asking for a response. This could be the opening correspondence of a formal grievance procedure, but it is likely not worth it as they will do what they want anyway. But at least I am not rolling over without a whimper.
I was actually off work today anyway as I had my consult with the plastic surgeon in the morning. He explained what he is going to have to do to remove the cancer on my nose, and it will be a day patient procedure with two weeks recommended off work (Yay!). We agreed to wait until after Christmas so it will likely be in January. It doesn't sound fun, apparently work on the nose is very tricky anyway, and my spot is rather large and the cancer may go down fairly deep into the tissues. He will cut some skin from near my ear to graft over the hole, and he said that the result might look a somewhat different contour from the other side of the nose. He also went into all the possible risks and bad things that could happen - yuk, let's hope I am lucky. Best case scenario is that after 2 to 3 months it will be fairly unobtrusive under makeup, so that would be good. Luckily, I am not very vain about my looks (but I am a little vain... aren't we all?).
Monday, 10 December 2007
I put the borders on the Baltimore Album top (made up from left over pre-printed blocks from the duvet cover I made a while ago). I was pleased that the border worked out as well as it did - since this twin-size top is rectangular, I thought I might have to get real creative to have the corners of the pre-print border stripe meet up properly, but as it turned out, they were ok. I will quilt this next time I have my quilting frame together, and probably offer it to an elderly house-bound woman that I visit each month - she might like it for her bed.
I also finished the Boogie knitted slipover. It isn't the best knitting job, but it is warm and cosy. I changed the neck to a V-neck (the pattern looks like it is a v-neck in the pattern photo, but actually it is a slit neck like a caftan) by decreasing up the sides of the cable.
I am currently working with some Kaffe Fasset stripe material that I bought a while ago - can you guess what I am going to make from it?
Thursday, 6 December 2007
Anyway, enough moaning about my minor health niggles. Now that it is getting colder here in the UK, I have put aside my sock to work on a sleeveless pullover to wear around the house. I had a bunch of RY Cashsoft DK that I got half-price when our local craft shop said they were going out of business (they didn't) and I am double stranding that to knit a bulky pattern called Boogie from Knitty.com. My new favourite thing to do is to curl up under a frayed-edge flannel quilt in the corner of our L-shaped sofa, with my knitting and preferably a nice drink, and watch something good on tv. I've got the back done, and am half-way up the front. This is the first time I have knit with double strands of anything, and I don't like it as much, the knitting looks a bit uneven but hopefully that will block out. But this is only to wear around the house, so it doesn't have to be perfect, just cosy.
I feel slightly ashamed of my hissy fit over the mystery quilt last week. Once I calmed down about it, I unpicked (in front of the tv) and resewed the borders. I think what had happened is that I had the left and right portions of that colourway, sewn onto the opposite border than where it belonged, if that makes any sense. Surprisingly (considering two of the fabrics have rosebuds on them) dh announced, after studying it on the wall for a while, that he quite likes it - he likes the graphic quality of it. So I guess when it gets quilted that he can have it. His old TV quilt (we all have at least one) was a Trip Round the World which is getting a bit worn out so maybe that can be his new tv quilt (and I will try hard not to tell him that he and his rosebuds look sweet together...).
I was surprised to get a 'letter' (a leaflet really, it wasn't personalised or dated) in today's post, from the Tom Bishop dollshouse show in Chicago in April. The leaflet announces that they have moved the show from the hotel where it normally is, due to renovations, to a completely different hotel, so we should all cancel our hotel arrangements and rebook at the new hotel. Luckily I was able to get a room at the new hotel, even though I probably got the leaflet later than American visitors, but it all seems rather casual and rather like shoving the inconvenience on down the line to us visitors. Makes me wonder if the traders (who must have made their advance plans as well) received any better treatment. I've just checked again and there isn't one word of apology in the letter, an interesting way of treating customers.
Christmas is coming, as I'm sure you all know. Last night was our town christmas celebration which was surprisingly well attended. We are basically a suburb of London, with a small neglected high street of shops (and several vacant), living in the shadow of the bigger town three miles down the road which has all the malls and restaurants etc. However, our town does put up a big christmas tree, and last night was 'Carols Around the Christmas Tree' put on by the Rotary Club, with a small amateur brass band from the Salvation Army. There must have been about 100 people there which is surprising, lots of families too, and Santa came too in a decorated convertible car. I went along (ds refused to come, at almost 13 years old he is too much above attending such tedious events with his embarassing mother) and sang a few carols. Then I checked out the Christmas fair, which was well attended but consisted almost entirely of local charities and good causes (churches, scouts, etc.) trying to make money, stall after stall of tombolas, raffles, throw the hoop over the wine bottle etc. I strolled around but tried not to make eye contact with any of the hopeful 'salespeople' all calling out "five tickets for a pound", although I did donate to the cancer charity that was being sponsored. I picked up a bag of cotton candy and brought it home to an appreciative dh, although of course I had to sample the goods on the way home.
Looking ahead to the holidays, I am wondering what my holiday sewing project is going to be. I always enjoy sewing on something festive to get into the christmas spirit. I have a pattern called 'Let it Snow' with lots of appliqued snowmen on it which I could work on, or there is the vintage log cabin which has all the strips cut out now. I suppose really I should be concentrating on finishing the dollshouse to get it off the dining table, but I think the family are all resigned to the fact now that it isn't going to happen. Luckily we don't have anyone coming over for christmas, and in fact my ambition is to do as little as possible on christmas day this year. I had a bit of an epiphany last year, after five hours in the kitchen, that I wasn't really enjoying myself, so this year I am aiming to misbehave... We will go down to the in-laws on Boxing Day.
Hope you are looking forward to a good holiday, and are feeling in control of whatever preparations you have in hand.
Friday, 30 November 2007
Sunday, 25 November 2007
First of all, I finished my other Ridged Feather pattern sock - and here is a pic with one of our cats, Colin, inspecting the handiwork. Being jet black, he doesn't photograph very well.
Second, Saturday was my sewing club day. I didn't get as much done as I had optimistically expected - by the time I make the announcements, hand out the instructions for our new group project (I've designed a sampler quilt in EQ6 to do as a block of the month), collected the dues (a share of the hall rental money) and made the first cup of tea (yes, I am a dogsbody), there is only about 90 minutes until lunch time. But I did get the borders on my vintage Lone Star. There is such a big difference between the poor waif that I bought from a dealer in Paducah, and its new incarnation with the star points adjusted, and reset into a blue background, and a border added.
I took my batik Easy Curves top for show & tell and because I thought I might get the borders on, and before I'd even finished it, it had sold. One of the other ladies wanted it for her granddaughter because she said it was all her favourite colours. I didn't have any special plans for it so I named a price which would cover the cost of the fabric (but still pretty pricey by low UK standards for buying handicraft). The lady blanched a bit, but agreed. I felt a bit guilty so I threw in some binding and backing as well. I sewed on the borders when I got home, and we dropped it round to her house this morning. She's going to do the quilting herself. I think this must be a record for the shortest time I've owned a quilt that I made, lol.
By coincidence, this was the same lady who was making my tablerunner from our earlier Brown Bag challenge (the one that had a deadline in September...) and she had finished it. It is an unusual block, and of course I love the fabrics that I gave her, so it will look nice on our table. It's nice to get it back finally and close off that chapter.
So I took the money she gave me on our outing to Eltham Palace, an English Heritage property on the other side of London. They were supposed to be having a craft fair, but we found out when we got there that it had been cancelled. We still went in and toured the house, a former Tudor palace which was converted in the 1920s into an Art Deco mansion for the wealthy Courtauld family, and had lunch in the tearoom, and a lovely walk in the autumn sunshine in the garden. On the way there and back, I started my new socks: the Cross Hatch Lace pattern from 'More Sensational Socks', using Lorna's Hand-Dyed Shepherd sock yarn in 'Wisteria' colourway that was part of my sock yarn haul from Alexander Palace show. The colours are just gorgeous, although they aren't striping like I thought, the sock is more blue on one side and more purple than the other. This picture shows my ribbing and the first repeat of the lace pattern.
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
I posted the Paducah quilt today, and received quite a shock when the post office told me that their fastest service (3 days) would cost over $110!!!! I am using the exact same packaging that my long-arm quilter paid $45 for two-day service US to UK. I gulped and asked what was the next cheapest (5 days for over $90) and then the next and final price which was $70 for 15 days. Obviously I went with the 15 days, grudgingly and asking plaintively why the Americans seem to be able to offer a better service for half the price. I just hope the quilt doesn't get all wrinkled in the box for that long, I thought it would only be in it for a few days.
Anyway, now that it is finally gone, I can turn my attention to some of the other deadlines awaiting me, and then I can actually do something for fun!
This is the knitting bag that my work colleague commissioned me to make as a xmas present for her mother after seeing my one. The instructions are in a previous post here. I made the frill deeper on this one which I think looks better.
I have also made twelve 144th scale coffee tables with flower arrangements on them, for a swap on Micro Minis. I am finding it harder to see things this size clearly without good daylight coming in the window, which is in short supply at this time of year - I think I am going to put an Ott light on my xmas prezzie list.
Then I could have some fun, and I made this batik handbag using a pattern I bought at Malvern back in May. The pattern is called 'Hannah's Bag' from http://www.patchworkcorner.co.uk/ and came with the handles. I have to say that it is not very well written, it is quite hard to figure out what they mean in a few places, and some measurements are not given so you have to guess, but the bag turned out pretty well. The drawstring closure means you can actually use it as a handbag rather than just a tote. The batiks are from a bunch I bought as remnants at Hancock's of Paducah in 2005. The handle came with the pattern. You can't see in this photo, but I free-motion quilted leaves in variegated thread across the pieces.
I also knit this tiny sweater christmas decoration, using some of my leftover sock yarn. It is from a book called 'Miniature Sweaters' by Betty Lampen which I bought in San Francisco at the Imagiknit knitting shop. ISBN-0-9634890-0-3. I adapted the instructions to knit it in the round but it was a bit fiddly so I think the next one I will just knit flat. It would be kind of neat to knit a little sweater from each sock yarn that I use.
On Saturday I went to the first UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day up in London, with Debbie Stoller of Stitch 'n Bitch fame as the main attraction. To my surprise, I actually got a place on her limited numbers workshop - the organisers said that attendance would be by lottery but on the day it was the first 30 people to sign up. She showed us how to do double sided knitting, using a scarf from her latest book 'Son of Stitch 'n Bitch' as a sample pattern, and she even picked me out of the crowd to stand up with her for a quick roleplay (I was 'Miss Red' for anyone who attended the same workshop!). So that was my unexpected brush with a famous person for this weekend. I found the technique difficult, you have to bring both yarns to the front for the purl, and move them to the back for the knit stitch, and the two-handed technique I settled upon at my Fair Isle workshop just wouldn't cut it. I had to revert to holding both yarns in my left hand and laboriously picking up the colour I needed. Debbie did what she called 'pit knitting' - she stuck one needle under her left armpit, leaving her left hand free to dance around the needle with both colours so fast that you almost couldn't see the stitches forming. And she was talking at the same time. Still, the woman next to me didn't know how to cast on, so I didn't feel I was the complete dunce of the class, lol. I didn't buy anything, although there were traders there, and I enjoyed knitting some more on my sock in the knitting lounge where the entertainment was going on.
Thursday, 8 November 2007
I put the last stitch in on the binding for the Paducah quilt today. (Thank god.) I've just got to sew the label on and do my best handwriting on the entry form, then I can post the whole thing back to the quilter and get back to my normal life. I don't have anywhere big enough to hang it up flat (and I do not dare let it touch any horizontal surfaces in this house) so I could only take a picture of it gathered on to my hanging stairwell display rod.
You can see Dinah Miller's quilting better in this pic. The design is by Beth Ferrier and was offered by her as a free internet pattern some years ago.
I made the label using EQ6, which turned out to be surprisingly easy once I stumbled across the video tutorial on how to make a quilt label (it wasn't going too well up to that point). I spent some time googling on garden quotations, and discovered that Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called 'The Glory of the Garden' so I have borrowed that title as the name for my quilt, because I thought it suited what I liked about the design: the colourful flowers both pieced and appliqued.
I also took a couple of pics of items referred to in recent posts. Here is the finished Ridged Feather sock from 'Sensational Socks'. The heel is quite neat because you put half the stitches on a holder, and cast them on again on a provisional cast-on, then knit the heels as a bulls-eye which is closed with kitchener stitch. Then you undo your provisional cast-on, and keep knitting along the foot of the sock. You choose the colour stripe carefully when you rejoin the self-striping yarn so that the pattern looks continuous rather than being interrupted for the heel.
This is the fair isle band I knit on Saturday on my knitting course. I have finished the two edges but it is a bit loose to be an ear warmer. I can either put elastic in it, or I was thinking it might make a neat handbag top if I knit a body in a co-ordinating colour. I went to an interesting lecture by Fiona Morris on felting knitting (at the Fleet Machine Knitting club on Tuesday) and she had made some lovely felted bags. The fair-isle band should felt as it is in Rowan wool and I could knit the body in my Rowan big wool.
I've also cast on for a new project, the 'Suzy' jacket-cardigan from Rowan using Rowan Big Wool in a nice navy colour. It is knit on 15mm huge needles which are awkward and tiring to use, but it is growing quickly. I was able to view several other 'Suzy' jackets on Ravelry, I hope mine will turn out well. Ravelry is such a great resource for knitters, I'm so glad I finally got through the waiting list and received an invitation.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Our tutor for the day was Linda Marveng, a lovely Norwegian lady who gave us a big pack of written material so that we didn't have to take notes during the day. There was free tea/coffee/biscuits but lunch was not provided - the talk at lunch- break amongst participants was that other courses (John Lewis, Rowan) provide lunch and more comfortable facilities, and probably represent better value for money overall.
We were each given two balls of Rowan Pure Wool DK and a set of Addi Turbo circular needles which were ours to keep. I am a fairly recent knitter so I didn't expect to do very well, but the first part of the course was on how to use the long-tail cast-on and how to knit continental style, both of which I already knew, so I was suddenly showing other people how to do things! Then we moved on to reading Fair Isle charts and how to hold the two yarn colours. I was able to try three different methods (both strands over left index finger, using a finger ring yarn guide, and one strand knit continental/ one strand knit English style in RH) and settled on holding a strand with each hand. Only I am knitting the RH strand continental method as well, not throwing it as the English knitters were all doing. I got on fairly well, I just had to be careful not to pull the RH yarn tighter than the LH yarn. I knit through one repeat of my pattern which is wide enough to turn into an ear-warmer band I think. Linda also showed us the Magic Loop method, knitting a steek then cutting it for a traditional jumper arm hole, and the three-needle bind-off.
I enjoyed the day a lot, Linda was lovely and everyone else on the course was nice as well, and we had some interesting conversations while we knit away. By the end of several hours on the almost-unpadded bench, my bum and back were killing me, so I was glad when we finished a little early and I was able to shoot off home for the Fireworks.
Tomorrow night (5th November) is Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night, so there were a lot of fireworks displays last night (Saturday). We went to one at the local primary school, and it was quite fun and a fairly good display about 15 minutes long. Dh & ds had a burger from the BBQ and then we had some sweets.
I am still plugging away on the binding for the Paducah entry, I've just turned the second corner so I am more than halfway now. I will be so glad when this is done. I am still trying to come up with an official quilt name for the entry form- dh suggested that my frequent label of 'that stupid quilt' would suffice but I'm not sure the Paducah jury would get it...
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
I am toiling away at applying the hanging sleeve and binding to my 'Year in the Garden' quilt, which is the queen-size quilt that my machine quilter wants to enter into Paducah. It is just horrible trying to do the absolute best job I can on the binding and sleeve, I feel like every quilt police constable in the world is hovering just behind my shoulder watching each stitch. So far I have got the sleeve on, and all appliqued down, and all of the binding is machine attached but not yet sewn down. It took a while to fiddle with the binding seam, because the on-point sashing ends in half-cornerstones, creating definite points that the binding seam MUST cross, yet in the nature of fabric (and my worksmanship) those points are not necessarily in a straight line. So a lot of fudging going on, but the end result isn't too bad apart from one point which for no apparent reason is a good 1/4 inch higher than its neighbours, so I gave up on that one. Still lots of handsewing to do though, and the machine quilter wants it back in about three weeks.
I finished my first sock in the Ridged Feather pattern and have cast on for the second one. I am going to the first UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day up in London this weekend, so I will take my sock along to look like a 'real' knitter. I also digressed this weekend back to my 'Learn to Knit' afghan pattern, and finished off a lace square and completed most of a diagonally knit garter stitch square. I've completed 18 squares now but I think there are 65 in the book. It is in Aran weight Debbie Bliss wool, on 5mm needles, which seems enormous after all the sock-knitting I have been doing on US No.1 dpns. We had a long car drive up to Nottingham so the bigger knitting was easier to do in the moving car. On the way back down we stopped into the Fabric Guild in Leicester, a great place for cheaper fabric and notions. I hardly bought any fabric, just 3 yards of a fun backing fabric (the one with all the people waving goodbye to the steamliner passengers) which was on sale. I did stock up on Gutermann cotton thread (£1 a 100m reel) and pins (my house and vacuum cleaner seem to eat all my pins) and got my m-i-l's birthday present (batting and backing and some notions).
After a bit of dithering, I paid up for a year of basic membership to Quilter's News Network streaming internet video. I've been watching it the last year because we don't get any craft television here in the UK, but it had gotten very repetitive with little new content. Now for members they have a big library of programmes like Quilt in a Day, Fons and Porter etc. that are video-on-demand. The picture is smaller but it's great being able to watch what you want. Anyway, the exchange rate for the US dollar is so good right now that it is only about £1 a month. I had previously subscribed to 'The Quilt Show' with Ricky Timms and Alex Anderson, which I think will run out in March 08. I don't really like it so far, but I know they are working to improve the content in response to viewer feedback, I will see how it goes.
Ooo! I just had my first trick-or-treater - a little ghoul whom I rewarded by offering him two candy bars. That only leaves 73 for my dh - no - 72 because I ate one when I got home (I bought three bags of 25 candy bars, ever the optimist)...
Friday, 26 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Thursday, 11 October 2007
The shopping area also featured large displays by some of the yarn companies, magazine publishers, embroidery companies etc., some with drop-in teaching areas. I headed straight for the shopping before and after my fashion show, and kept finding sock yarn which got cheaper at every stall. I started out at the top end with some Lorna's hand-dyed, then found the Cherry Tree Hill stand and got two more colours of Supersock Merino, then found another shop doing three balls of sock yarn for a special price, and finished up at a Scandinavian trader selling sock yarn for £1.60 a ball! I also got some more dpns, and some straight bamboo needles, and stocked back up on machine needles (Schmetz quilting) after breaking several when I was learning to use my frame. I also fell off the wagon and subscribed to a knitting magazine because they were doing the first three issues for £1 and I couldn't resist.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Saturday, 6 October 2007
This morning I took the charity quilts, bunnies and rag doll over to Peggy, who is 91 years old and who runs an annual coffee morning / quilt sale to raise funds for her local hospice. She used to be in my sewing group about 10 years ago and is still sewing away. What a marvel. She lives with her daughter now that she is a widow. She was very pleased and I got a thank you kiss on my cheek and was told how kind I am - isn't that sweet. I feel guilty because I wanted to make all those things anyway and it is convenient for me to have somewhere useful to give them to, but at least they are going to a good cause and Peggy was very pleased.
I'm almost finished my second cabled sock, I'm just knitting the top ribbing - will post a pic once it's done.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Thursday, 20 September 2007
I do seem to be on something of a knitting jag at the moment. I finished the first of my cable socks, and I am really pleased with how it looks. The fit is a bit tight, especially to get it on over the foot, so having consulted my 'Sensational Socks' book, I am going to make the heel flap a few rows higher (and thus the gusset a few stitches wider) which hopefully will give me a bit of slack. I am also going to try the no-cable-needle cable method on the second sock, which looks like it may also make a looser cross-over which should loosen the second sock slightly.
I continue to tweak my Freestyle quilting frame arrangement. I gave up on trying to get my own table level because no matter how much propping up I did, the sewing machine was still trying to coast downhill and backwards on its own. So I sent dh to Ikea to pick up two of the height-adjustable trestles like the ones in the instructional video (and he even put them together for me, what a sweetie!) and the frame is now resting on those. This had the added advantage that I could raise it up about 8 inches higher, so I could see the needle more clearly and no longer had to adopt the weird backward stooping posture. However, we quickly discovered that the weight of my machine was making the frame support rails sag by almost a half inch in the middle. It is impossible to see in the tiny pictures in the instructions whether or not the makers have boards between their trestles to support the rails. I have now propped up the centre of my rails with a stack of craft books (the first time many of them have been taken off the bookshelf in a long time). And at last I am level! If I let go of the machine carriage handles, the machine stays where it is! what a difference!
So now I feel like I can concentrate on learning to steer. On my current practice top, I am experimenting with edge-to-edge quilting. I traced off my chosen fairly simple pattern onto Golden Threads paper, and used a big needle to needle-punch six more copies of the pattern. I started out pinning these to the quilt and quickly discovered that I absolutely hated the technique. The paper isn't quite flat no matter how much you pin it, so the fullness gets pushed around by the presser foot and develops wrinkles, and it is sort of crunchy to stitch through. By the time you have stitched through one repeat, the paper sort of wrinkles up to adapt to the quilt contours, which means that when you pin down the next un-stitched sheet, it is now longer than the stitched sheet so that it is hard to line up the interlocking pattern correctly. and if the wrinkle gets high enough, the presser foot hooks into it and tears the paper. Aaarrghghgh!!!
After a few lengths of the GT paper, I felt there had to be a better way. Googling on the internet quickly revealed the pantograph system used on the Hinterburg system and others, where a stylus is attached to the back edge of the carriage to trace along a panto roll laid on the table. I have now temporarily improvised this system by taping a draughtsman's compass to my carriage and laying my panto roll along a board between the two trestles. Even this improvised system is working great, so I will have to adapt it into something more permanent.
I have received my first commission! A friend at work saw my knitting bag, and has asked me to make her one for her mother for Christmas.
On Saturday at my club meeting, we concluded both our brown bag swap and the applique split-picture swap (I was doing both). The mystery recipient of my autumn leaves table runner turned out to be someone unexpected, and I'm not sure she liked it. She said something pretty feeble like 'oh, that's nice', but when another tablerunner in similar colours was unveiled by someone else, she was raving enthusiastically 'OH, that's beautiful!' etc. so I guess she would have rather had that one. oh well. I glimpsed my own table runner which isn't finished yet so I don't have it back yet. I liked it because I like the fabrics I put in the bag. The applique split-picture swap has been really interesting - these are the pics where I made a slice of a black man's head, a slice of a Monet farmscape, and a slice of a Belgian street scene (as blogged previously). My picture is of a Venetian canal, and I haven't got all the three pieces back, but I've seen the third piece and it is quite amazing how much my three pieces look like they go together. I will make the fourth piece when I get the other three pieces and post a pic. The black man's portrait didn't fare so well - one contributor had used a fabric tremendously lighter than the others for the skin, and also made an over-large staring white eye. The Monet farmscape fabrics were all very good, but unfortunately the person who made the slice next to mine was wildly inaccurate and their piece doesn't line up at all with mine (we are talking more than a half inch out). At first when I saw it I had a sick feeling wondering if I had made the mistake, but we compared pattern pieces and it is definitely the next person's. The Belgian street scene is going to look good, apart from the boring low-contrast fabrics for the building and foreground provided by the owner of the picture. Hopefully I will get photographs of the finished scenes and be able to post them.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
- I need to smooth the top from the centre out to the edges each time I roll on, to try to fight the tendency of the quilt top to become hourglass-shaped (the quilting draws it in, yet the ends are pinned to full width on the rollers). The sideways tension is on the backing so it doesn't alleviate the tendency of the top to draw inwards.
- where the top has no excess to trim off, I should put the batting onto the backing first, then pin the quilt top through all three layers. The cd that came with the system shows the top being pinned to the backing, then folded back, and the batting being inserted between the two layers. Despite best endeavours, this left me a gap of up to 1/4" with no batting in it along the top edge.
- You can continuous-curve quilt around the seams of a block, by rolling on as needed (which is tedious but do-able). However (and my dh helpfully pointed out that this should be obvious), it is no good rolling forward to go around the whole block if the total distance quilted forward from original starting point exceeds a certain distance (about 10" on my frame) because once the three layers are quilted together, you can't roll back any further than about 10" because the top and bottom can no longer separate to go onto their respective rollers. I found this out by quilting all around one block, moving over to do the next block in the row and discovering I couldn't roll back far enough. Having driven helpful husband out of the room, I had to do part of the block and leave the rest to do later off the frame. I guess I should have done about half the first block, then gone along and done half the next block etc. etc., before rolling forward. But that is going to require some advance planning on how to quilt the seams, I hate advance planning.
On my next practice top, I am going to try some edge-to-edge quilting patterns. As there is no pantograph facility on this frame (and I would think that when someone writes that book I want to read, they will have a chapter on improvising pantograph systems), I will have to draw out the pattern onto Golden Threads paper.
What else have I been doing? I am still knitting on my Widdershins cable sock, I have turned the heel (which is just the most wonderful heel, you increase for the gusset, then knit a proper heel flap and decrease on either side to tie it back into the gusset - so no picking up stitches!) but when I tried to do the cable rib up the leg I found it was too tight. I ripped back and tried with bigger needles and less cross-overs, then it was too loose. So I have ripped back again, and am trying with original needles and less cross-overs. And I finally got my invitation to Ravelry, I was so excited, and spent about a half day setting up an account there. They only take pictures from Flickr, there is no direct upload option, so I had to create a knitting album on Flickr to get my pics into Ravelry. Oh, and it is getting a bit colder here now so I sat down one evening and knit a hat, the 'May' pattern from Rowan Big and Easy leaflet.
I've also finished two Miss Lydia Pickett kits from my monthly club that Judith of 'In Some Small Way' is running. This was the Day Bed and the Ladies' Writing Desk, which I think were the August & September kits. We have now moved onto the living room furniture so I have shifted my base colour from pale yellow to a sort of oatmeal colour (one of my dh's Citadel paints in a shade called 'Bleached Bone') which matches the provided artwork quite well. These kits went together well. The Day Bed was fairly easy. The front legs of the desk are built up of three layers and you need to sand the fronts off to round the leg so it looks more like a cabriole leg and less like a laser-cut structure. I found the artwork slightly puzzling as the interior pieces above and below the shelf do not completely fill up their allotted space, even though in the kit picture they appear to. The little extras with the ladies' desk are two little books and a folded vintage leaflet. I am quite pleased, as usual, with how both kits turned out.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
These are the pieces as delivered. The frame is strongly constructed from quality materials. In fact the metal runners are so strong that in the accompanying instruction video you can see the frame in use and only supported at either end by trestles. The wooden pieces are of high quality wood, all well finished and completely smooth, and a large amount of pre-assembly has been done prior to delivery.
Now that the frame is together, I can say that it is not complex and I should not have any trouble putting it together a second time in the future. However, I had extreme difficulty putting it together the first time, largely because of inadequate instructions. Assembly instructions are supplied in two forms: a work-in-progress video (your choice of cd or dvd) which has chapter captions but no sound, and shows the frame being assembled and then loaded with a quilt top; and a one-sheet printed set of assembly instructions with small photographs. I had three main problems: firstly, the frame as supplied to me is obviously a later evolution and is not the same as the prototype pictured on either the printed instructions or in the video. Secondly, there appears to be no way to pause or stop the video on cd, forcing me to let it run full length repeatedly as I tried to figure out the finer details of assembly. I don't know what format it is in, but there are no controls provided for pausing or navigation, no key on the keyboard would pause it or make controls pop up, and Windows Media Player would not recognise the video format. Thirdly, the assembly instructions suffer greatly from 'must get it all onto one page' syndrome - the photographs are tiny and cropped so severely as to be almost useless. There is no sheet identifying the various components, which makes some of the references on the assembly sheet cryptic. Consequently the assembly, which on the video takes about 10 minutes, actually took me about five hours to get right. (At least, I think I've got it right)
It is a lot of little things, all of which could be solved with some close-up photographs. For example, when adding on the pivoting end pieces, it was not clear on which side of the wood the large washer should be placed. I put it on the inside - and it became clear later that this put the end piece slightly out of parallel with the base frame (because the spiral arm does have the large washer on the outside). So when I tried to adjust the height, my end piece was binding on the spiral arm's large washer, and actually chipped a bit of the wood off the bottom of the end piece. Another example would be that the rods have a specific right way up, which is to have the black handle down and the white plastic nub upwards in the support grooves. But you can't tell this from any of the instructions - it was my dh who pointed out that one end of the rods was lower than the other end. I'm still not sure where the side tensioning clips should be fastened on the frame - in the tiny photo in the instructions it looks like they may be hooked over a piece of wood which I don't have on my frame. I have hooked them instead over the white plastic rod, but that puts them off centre which seems strange. There are two more single sheets of instructions: one on loading the quilt onto the frame, which strangely is in a different order from how it is done on the video; and one showing how to adjust the height of the frame for your machine bed. I puzzled over the last one for some time and I am still not sure that I have it right, but the machine seems to be quilting alright.
When loading my machine onto the carriage (a Janome 6500) it became clear that I had another problem. The platform is not big enough to take my machine square on - the motor hits up against the handle and one foot is half off the platform. If I put the machine right over to one side, I can get it on at a slight angle but then the spool rest is preventing the machine from coming fully to the front of its platform (thus reducing the possible throat area on the machine since the platform steering handle support is in front of the actual machine throat).
The biggest problem has been the most unexpected - there is no allowance made, or mention of, where to put your foot pedal. When I tried out the frame at the Malvern quilt show, they were using the frame on two trestles, so of course the foot pedal cord could fall down behind the frame and the pedal come to the front. This obviously doesn't work on a table, unless you were on a very narrow table or have a very long foot cord. I have had to resort to improvising by tying my pedal onto the handle, which quickly tired out my left hand. Thinking of some of the other home frames I have seen at shows, some of which have a wooden trigger on the handle to push down on the pedal, I have now come up with this wooden stick arrangement to put leverage on the pedal, but it is still pretty unsatisfactory and prone to slipping off. I might try to suspend the cord on the stick to see if the pedal will reach down to the floor at the front. I have also had trouble a couple of times with the power cord at the back of the machine flipping up on the back runner and obstructing the machine carriage.
So what is it like to actually use? I found the action to be slightly heavy at first but I am getting used to it now. The system allows free movement of the machine in all directions, as it should. The handles are quite comfortable - or they would be if I didn't have the problem with the foot pedal level to squeeze. On my machine, I feel like I do not have good visibility of the needle unless I stand well back from the frame, because of the bulk of the machine head, so I find I am adopting a strange posture of standing well back and hunching my neck down to be able to see the needle, which grows uncomfortable over time. I guess if I had the frame on adjustable trestles like in the video, I could raise it to a more comfortable height.
I am having a bit of trouble because my table is not entirely level, and if I let go of the machine it wants to roll to the back and to the left. I am trying to prop the frame up with magazines and things but haven't got it right so far. That is just a problem with my table, and not the fault of the frame.
I ordered the six-foot rollers, and for some reason the leaders (the fabric 'tails' on the rollers) are different widths - the one on the back roller is 64 and 3/8th and the other two are near to 66 inches. So I guess 64 and 3/8th will be my maximum working width. It doesn't say this in the instructions, but it seems clear that the quilt back needs to be longer and wider than the top. Longer so that the top can be pinned onto the back below where the back pins onto the leader (so that you don't have two rows of pins on top of each other) and wider because otherwise the machine bed bumps into the side tensioning clip and disrupts the quilting. I have had several accidents with the needle hitting the back roller which is another reason for there to be a good gap between where the backing pins onto the leader and where the top starts. Once you have hit the back roller a few times, the needle clamp gets loosened and then the needle waggles and breaks (ask me how I know...).
Now that I have got going and am starting to learn all the quirks as above, the meandering is going well. I can see that it would save a lot of time, if you know what you are doing, compared to conventionally safety-pinning the quilt and free-motioning the normal way. I am pleased with the quality of the machine, and with the fact that I will be able to disassemble and store it easily (unlike some of the other dedicated home frame systems). I just need to do lots and lots more practice.
This site is owned by
Want to join a