Saturday, February 13, 2010

Joan-Sock Sunday!

I used to knit all the time. Norwegian sweaters were my favorite to knit - all the fancy snowflake patterns and bright colors. Challenging and fun!

Once I took up quilting, it seems there's never enough time to work on the bigger knitted projects with all the charts and graphs to follow.

Socks are hot! About ten years ago, the yarn manufacturers started making self-striping yarns in sport weight colors and durable wool-blends. Perfect for socks. So I set out to find a simple pattern that mimicked a commercial sock - a long rib at the ankle, and seams at the heal, not bulky flaps. At the time, I couldn't find one (now that type of pattern is fairly common), so I made it up. And started knitting. . . . and knitting. . . and knitting . . . socks!

I always have at least a half-dozen socks in progress. They are portable too! Since the pattern is so straightforward, you can pick it up anywhere and not worry about details in a complex pattern.

Then I started giving my socks away to friends and family. And folks asked me how I made them, could they have the pattern. . . I don't use a pattern, really. So I started teaching sock classes. Social and laid back, once a month on a Sunday.

Here's a couple of fun new items from Knitcellaneous, a mini sock blocker key chain and dog tags with a quick review of the Kitchener stitch.

Lotsa fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New to me!

When I first tried it, I didn't like hand applique very much.

Needle turn. All that basting. My blocks had puckers and distortions. And never laid flat. Never.

Maybe I wasn't ready for hand applique. It's so mysterious.

So I tried machine applique. That's okay, but . . . sometimes you want something that doesn't require a sewing machine.

Then I found the 'starch method' to do hand applique. Loved it. Pieces were nice and flat. BUT, there's quite a lot of prep work with freezer paper and liquid starch. Then you have to rinse the block so the starch doesn't attract critters from three adjoining counties.

I recently found my 'new' favorite applique method. It's not really 'new' - but it's new to me! It's described in Vintage Journey by Jo Morton. Jo references Jeana Kimball who calls it the "template-free" method of hand applique.

I won't go into too many specifics here, get the book for all the dirty details.

Basically, start on the back of the base fabric with an outline of the applique. With heavy thread and a bigger needle, secure the applique piece to the front with a running stitch along the drawn outlines. I used YLI cotton hand quilting thread (one of my favorites!), a size 7 sharp, and I kept my stitches really small. Now, I'm not so keen on basting, but I do love running stitches!

With the applique secured, let the block set a while. Later, work on the front with a smaller needle and your favorite matching applique thread (I like YLI Soft Touch). Pull out the running stitches, a little at a time, and turn under the allowance. You'll find that the heavy needle and thread have created enough perforation in the fabric to allow the fabric to turn under neatly.

Here's a couple of my blocks from Moda's Greenpiece block of the month pattern. The butterfly applique is done, the block just needs cornerstones. The bird block is in progress, if you look closely, you can see the running stitches on the wing.

 This applique stuff isn't so mysterious, after all!