Saturday, 9 June 2012

Jubilee week

It feels a bit weird to be blogging again when I just blogged on Wednesday - it is contrary to my normal weekly rhythm.  But as we have been on holiday all week, all our normal schedules have drifted awry in a sea of crafts, sleeping in, staying up late, meals at odd times, and doing stuff around the house.  We will have to get sorted out so that we can go back to school / work on Monday.

So this was the Jubilee week, and I'm sure you all saw some of the great national celebrations on the long weekend just past.  Sunday was the spectacular Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the river, or at least it would have been spectacular if it hadn't started to rain.  By the end it was coming down cats and dogs, and while the television presenters were making lots of pronouncements on how continuing on regardless proved our national British resilience and stoicism, I was just watching the drowned rat opera singers and thinking that it really shows we are a nation that must be a bit bonkers.  I mean come on, surely they have rain coats and would it really be the end of the world if they were singing in plastic macs?  Or better still, singing downstairs where the orchestra stayed nice and dry?  And who keeps an 86-year-old standing in the rain for three hours?  Queen of the land and she can't be seen wrapped up in a nice warm coat?  The best bit of the four-hour extravaganza was watching Twitter at the same time, where there were many amusing comments on the frankly pathetic coverage by BBC announcers who made errors of fact and grammar in amongst the drivel.  That and watching the 20 artists on the Millennium Bridge who were supposed to be recording the flotilla for posterity, trying to hold down their canvases and paper as they frantically tried to paint for the camera in the driving rain and wind.

Meanwhile, I had set up my sewing machine in the livingroom and was working on a Teapot Quilt, using up a collection of teapot and china fabric that I put together about 15 years ago.  I had fussy cut loads of squares and used the same design as the Kaffe Fassett Potpourri Quilt, that I made in Hawaii, to put them together.  I really like the effect but then I seem to be on a kick of very scrappy busy quilts lately.  It needs a border but I didn't have anything suitable, so I have mail ordered a coupled of possibilities from in the States.

Monday night was the big Jubilee concert, and while it was very cool to see how they had converted the roundabout into a concert venue, and to see the projections on Buckingham Palace, the actual sound output was pretty dire.  It must have been better in person because lots of people in the audience were tweeting about how great it was.  But the television coverage didn't seem to be mixing the sound properly so all you could hear was the ancient singers bellowing tunelessly into their microphones.  The backing singers and music were not as loud, so many of the songs came across more as caterwauling especially if you knew a song well from a recording made when they were younger.  I just couldn't watch it, so I was clicking back and forth between the concert proceedings and a documentary that Prince Charles had recorded about his childhood memories of the Queen which was actually fairly interesting.

By now I am sounding like a big Jubilee partypooper - sorry about that.  I did enjoy watching the highlights of the Queen's procession through London to St. Paul's for the service there, and at least those crowds stayed dry until it started to rain once they were out on the balcony.  Do you think that balcony has an invisible roof?  The Royal Family didn't seem to be getting wet despite more driving rain.  The weather really has been pretty awful this week, apart from Wednesday and today (Saturday).

Anyway, we've had the rest of the week off which has been very nice.  Wednesday was when we went up to London (see previous post) but otherwise I have been pottering around the craft room and catching up on some gardening and minor household repairs.

I put the final stitch into the binding, and sewed on the label, of my DS's Seven Wonders of the World quilt which I started in 1999.  Luckily it was for him to take to college so I have actually finished it a year early, yay me! I've been knitting on my Eyelet Lace jumper and on my Japanese Stitch Sock.

I had promised myself I would do some machine knitting this week, when I had so much time to get it right.  Machine knitting is supposed to be so fast, but it always seems to take me forever.  This was no exception.

  • I chose a fairly simple set-in sleeve top hand knitting pattern, and matched it to some Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply in my stash.  The required tension was 28st and 36 rows. So I knit up five tension swatches starting from 6 and going up to 7-.  .  The Rowan 4-ply knit happily at all of these tensions on my Brother 881.  However, when I washed and blocked them, they nearly all measured 30st.
  • I tried again, knitting four more tension samples from 7.. up to 9.  Unbelievably they still all measured 30st.  The best fabric seemed to be at T9 which was 30 st and 38 rows.
  • I gritted my teeth and sat down and wrestled with math for two hours to write my own pattern for a set in sleeve jumper at a tension of 30 st, using the Ann Budd Handy Book of Sweater Patterns as a jumping off point.  She doesn't go that small with the tension, so I had to do lots of arithmetick which made my head hurt.
  • So the next day I spent all afternoon knitting the front and back of the jumper.  The reason it took so long is that I misread my own handwriting and knit the back 20 rows too short, so I had to rip it partway out, rehang it on the machine (which took me about 45 minutes to get right) and re-knit it.  The actual knitting went alright, I could remember how to do most of the basic stuff with the machine.
  • After letting the two pieces rest overnight, I washed and blocked them.  To my disgust, they were way too big.  Much too long for one thing, which turned out to be partly because I had miscalculated the length by forgetting to include the welt.  But mainly because when they dried and I re-measured the tension, the correct tension turned out to be 29st and 39 rows.  So basically I had spent a couple of days knitting two giant tension swatches.
  • Gritting my teeth, I sat down yesterday and spent another hour or so recalculating the pattern.  I cropped Ann Budd's suggested length and made sure I included the welt this time.  Luckily I think I have enough of this yarn to knit the jumper without having to unravel the first two pieces (although I will have to do that eventually).  Then I headed out to the knitting shed and knit the back, AGAIN, and this time when I blocked it has come out to the right size - yay!  I didn't want to knit the front until I had checked the back was right.
  • Meanwhile, a fast hand knitter like Knit24Seven could probably have finished the jumper by now.
The other thing I did this week was to try out the Trifold Wallet pattern from the Lisa Lam book 'A bag for all reasons'.  This is an impressively well produced book, with full size pattern sheets, coil binding, high production value illustrations, and came with a lot of positive reviews.  I was therefore fairly disappointed to find that the pattern instructions were flawed, or in many cases, ambiguous as to what you were meant to be doing.  Luckily I had gone into this project with the mindset that the first wallet would be a trial piece.  In case you were thinking of making this pattern, here is what I found out about it.
  • A pretty major flaw is that the wallet will not fold closed with a credit card in the two innermost slots, if you position the card slots according to the pattern.  In my next wallet, I will move these slots outwards so the cards will not block the fold line.
  • The instructions completely miss out the step where you attach the concertina coin pouch to the Notes slot.  I went ahead and sewed this down after attaching the flap, centering it and just sewing down the two folded edges according to how it is pictured in one of the photos.
  • The instructions miss out having any kind of closure for the coin flap, so there is nothing to stop your coins pouring out if you tilt the wallet.  I sewed velcro onto my flap as I was constructing it, and similarly to the concertina body as I sewed that.
  • I found that as the Notes Slots is not interfaced, it is poking up through the gaps between the stiff card slots, interfering with sliding the cards into the slots particularly for the end one where the seam allowance adds to the bulk.  In my next wallet, I will interface behind the card slots to stiffen this area.
  • The instructions for the card slots were a bit vague - the 4 3/8" measurement should be across the fold, and the interfacing should run perpendicular to this (so it is doubled when you fold the card slot).   When you trim the interfacing, discard the 1 1/4" piece she tells you to cut, it is the wider piece that is fused to the card slots.
  • According to the design of the wallet, the top edge of c. 1/4" plus protruding above the Notes Slot is not interfaced at all.  This leaves it floppy and inclined to fold down.  In my next wallet, I am going to take the heavy interfacing right up to the seam line.
  • The way the wallet is designed, the lining of the exterior floats free.  This means there is nothing to keep it flat and it wants to protrude upwards, or pleat itself.  In my next wallet, I am going to see if I can work out how to back it with fusible web so that I can press it flat after turning the wallet right-sides-out.
  • I found it almost impossible to evenly turn in the top edge of the wallet after turning it right-sides-out.  this is partly because of not being interfaced, but in my next wallet I will mark guidelines for where to fold the fabric so that I end up with an even line along the edge of the wallet top.
  • Being right handed, I would prefer to have the tab closure on the right side of the wallet so that I can press the stud closed with my right hand more easily.
  • As this is an American pattern, the notes slot is far too big for UK paper money.  I am going to look at whether I should make the wallet smaller by eliminating one set of card slots, or whether I should just seam the bills slot to be shorter.

If you are in the UK, I hope you enjoyed all the Jubilations and had a nice week - and stayed dry.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

I liked the boat with a sort of poly-tunnel on top the best - there was an orchestra sat up there!

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