Saturday, 10 September 2011

Back to School

DS started back to school last week, so we have shifted back into our autumn routine.  The weather encourages the Autumn mindset, as it is grey and overcast and blustery - although alternating between cold enough for woolly hats and 20 degree humidity.  Bizarre.  I've also banished all my summer clothes to the underbed storage, and dug out my winter woollies, the official sign of a seasonal change.

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Another sign of seasonal change is that it's time to be knitting hats for The Big Knit for Innocent Drinks, which raises money for Age UK.  They put the hats on their smoothie drinks in supermarkets, then donate money from each bottle sold (c. £160,000) to the charity. I usually knit 3 or 4, and I've just made a start today with this Fuschia hat.

Just in time for it NOT to be summer, I finished Project Number Four from our quilting club UFO Challenge, which was a bright summery quilted knapsack.  This was adapted from a Susan Briscoe pattern in one of her books, and modelled after a similar bag that I saw a knitter carrying around at Knit Camp last summer.  It's got an external pocket on either side and two at the front, all with elasticated tops.It turned out fairly well, and I did wear it to work for my daily commute several days this week. It's relatively comfortable, although the straps aren't as padded as my usual knapsack so the day that I brought home some library books, the new straps felt a bit like they were cutting into me.  The main reason I stopped using it though is because it just isn't sufficiently ergonomic for the life of a commuter.  I need to be able to quickly get out my wallet to pay for things, my season ticket at the train station, or my phone when it rings.  I don't have time to un-button fiddly button loops or drawstrings, plus the useful outside pockets left said wallet and phone too much on show for my liking, considering all the warnings about pickpockets in major stations.  Still, on the whole, it was successful and would be fine as a knitting bag or for a daytrip that wasn't too a major city (I work in London).  I'm beginning to wonder if the best way to get a useful knapsack is just to buy a knapsack and slipcover it in patchwork.  This bag has eyelets around the top edge and a drawstring, and the inside has zippered pockets, pen pockets and a key ring.

I finished quilting my Kaffe Fassett Stars over England quilt.  It went relatively well, although it felt a bit weird being back in front of the machine to do free motion stippling, as I got so used to doing the pantos from the back of the frame. I just did a large scale stipple on it, as the quilting hardly shows (I used a red thread).  In fast, the quilting showed so little that I had trouble seeing where I had already stitched when I was doing the border, even though I have a side mounted lamp throwing the quilting into relief.
I loaded a practice sandwich on the frame and practiced a panto called 'Lily' which I am going to use on the next quilt, a vintage Lone Star which I reset into a new background with a new border. Usually a Lone Star has each diamond quilted individually and maybe a motif like a feather wreath quilted in the blank background squares.  But you can't do that on a short-arm quilting frame like mine, so I've decided to do the curvy panto instead as a compromise.  It's going to have a pieced backing which is another quilt top of reset mini-Lone Stars.  Hopefully all the seam allowances aren't going to be a problem.  I've ordered a new hopping foot from Cotton Patch in Birmingham which will take a few days to come, but may get over bumps in the fabric better than the original plastic-inset hopping foot on the Pfaff Grand Hobby Quilter.

I took my Machine Knit Doll into the local Shooting Star charity shop (supporting hospices for sick children) and they were very pleased to have it even though they said they aren't supposed to accept new hand knits, but they thought she was too cute to turn down.

I have to show you this neat little makeup bag I bought after seeing it featured in one of the knitting magazines.  It had sold out from the featured dealer, but I found it on another website which had free postage through so that worked out better.  It's one of the Needles & Pins line from Disaster Designs, and it looks just like an old sewing pattern envelope. It's even got buttons on the zipper pull.  It's too cute to use as a makeup bag, so I will probably use it for knit notions.

Commuter knitting this week has been the Summer Flies Shawl and I'm almost finished!  I am currently doing the Picot Bind off along the edge.  Since that involves casting on two new stitches before casting off five stitches, I shudder to think how many hundreds of stitches I am now dealing with (it was 395 before the bind off).  I've just knit what's in front of me, and going to an incredibly tedious parent's evening at DS's school helped get several inches done.  I'm now in the final stretch, so hopefully will be able to block it soon.

I wore the Liesl cardigan to work again, and this time I fastened it with a large brooch instead of the giant safetypin/shawl pin.  I think I am just going to do that, and not bother with buttons at all.  Once again, noone at work said anything, but I got some compliments on it at I-Knit on Thursday. I actually told my manager my thoughts on buttons, and she agreed it didn't need them, but she did not then go on to say  anything about how lovely it is.  Perhaps I look like a variegated coloured sausage in it, who knows...  I like it anyway.

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