July 2008

I’ve finished the collar and mattress-stitched the side seams, with minimal ripping out and resewing.

I don’t love the sewing of seams, which is weird since I spend so much time sewing quilt blocks together.  Because I want to avoid more seaming, I decided that I will pick up stitches around the armholes and knit the sleeves in the round, from shoulder to cuff.  Bonus:  Denis can try on the sweater before I bind off, so the sleeve length will be just right.  He’s a tall man with long arms, so I suspect that the 18 inches of standard length will not do.

I can only guess at this point, though, since he refused to try the sweater on last night.  I can’t understand why he doesn’t want to put on a thick, silky wool sweater in the middle of July, can you?

This morning I took some time to browse the aisles at Michael’s, and found an interesting sock yarn I hadn’t heard of before:

Patons Stretch Socks, a soft blend of cotton, wool, nylon and elastic.  This colourway is called “Sugar”.  Once I have finished with the sweater sleeves, I’ll knit myself a pair of toe-up socks with this.  For now, it will snuggle with the rest of the stash.


Finally, I stopped dithering about which quilt to start, and pieced this crazy patch yesterday.  It will become part of a small wallhanging.  There will be 12 crazy blocks, and an embroidered centre block, probably roses or some other floral design.

This quilt is going to be heavily embellished with beads, buttons and charms, so before I do any of the hand stitching, I’ll iron on some fusible interfacing on the back of the block.  This will help keep the finished quilt from sagging under the weight of the embellishments.  This block is more than 10 inches square right now, but will have a finished size of 9 inches.  I’m making the block larger because I tend to stitch at a tight tension, and I expect shrinkage.

There’s also progress on the knitting front:

I’m knitting an actual fitted garment!  This is Noro Silk Garden #244, and it will be a polo-style pullover for my husband.  I’ve finished the back, and have started the armhole shaping on the front.  Those of you who know my knitting habits, please sit down:  I knit a gauge swatch and washed it and measured it before I started the sweater. 

My dog just wants to know when Mum will get off the computer…it’s playtime!

I realize that you are not a quiltmaker, and so I am grateful that you have published a free quilt pattern to go with your latest fabric line.  I liked it enough to download it, and now that I’ve read through it, I’d like to make the quilt.

However, in reading the pattern from beginning to end, I think it could have used some proofreading by someone who makes quilts.  Since you’ve been generous enough to provide us with a free pattern, I would like to return the favour.  Here, free of charge, is a wee bit of advice on writing quilt patterns:

1.  Modern quilters don’t often use templates for piecing.  Especially when the pieces are just squares and rectangles.  Generally, we like to use a rotary cutter and ruler.  It was nice of you to provide full-size templates in your pattern.  Next time, if you could also include the dimensions of each template somewhere in the instructions, we’d be even happier.  It would save us having to measure the shapes on your pattern to figure out what size they are (while hoping that our printers faithfully printed the templates at the correct size).

2.  Most patterns that include templates will indicate whether seam allowances are included or whether they need to be added before cutting.  It’s generally agreed that for piecing, templates have the seam allowances included already, but there’s always some publisher who decides to be different, so it’s helpful to mention it.

3.  Contrary to your advice, it is not customary to cut the backing fabric the same size as the quilt top before quilting it.  Any experienced quilter will tell you to cut the batting and backing larger than the top.  You want some extra fabric around the edges, because you will begin quilting from the centre of the quilt, and the quilting process (especially machine quilting) will tend to draw in the backing and batting as you stitch.  You don’t want to get to the edges of the quilt and find that there’s no backing for the outer inch of it.

4.  In quilting, “sashing” and “borders” are not the same thing.  Strips of fabric that are sewn around the outside of the quilt top are borders.  Strips of fabric that separate blocks within the quilt are sashing.  It’s important to use these terms correctly, because experienced quilters may make certain assumptions when they see them.  If I’m dealing with sashing, for example, I don’t mind piecing a strip together from two pieces of fabric if I have to, because it’s not as noticeable.  However, I’m fanatical about my borders, and I want each side to be cut from one continuous piece of fabric.  That affects my choices about how much fabric to buy.  Please don’t tell me I’m going to be sewing sashing, when I’m really buying fabric for borders.