Thursday, 20 September 2007

I seem to be turning into a knitter...

Watching me as I obsessively knit little hats in aid of Age Concern the other night (see pic to left of blog), my dh remarked that suddenly I seemed to be a Knitter - not a quilter, or a dollshouser or anything else. I think it might have been the insane chortling and the chanting of 'isn't it cute!' as I waved little pom-pommed mini hats around in front of his face.

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.


swooze said...

Love the sock! It came out so pretty. What a disappointment on your tablerunner swap. Oh well...can't win them all I suppose.

Congrats on the commission of your bag.

I can't wait to see the picture quilts!

Kathy Wagner said...

I would love to see the outcome of the split picture challenges. What a fascinating idea!

Nicole and Phil said...

I am starting my first socks at the moment, nothing as fancy as yours though...this is what I aspire to be able to do!
But for the time being, I am still getting used to using 4 needles and trying to work that heel!

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