February 2009

Poor neglected blog.  I’ve been busy with unbloggable projects lately, and there’s not much to show on the knitting front.  I have started the second sock from the Rockin’ Sock Club, and hope to have a completed pair to show next week.  I think I’ve managed a whole 3 rows of Clapotis.
But there’s always a little time to surf, and I saw a link to a fun quiz on Karen’s blog, so I took a minute to answer the questions.  My word:

Your Word is “Peace”

You see life as precious, and you wish everyone was safe, happy, and taken care of.Social justice, human rights, and peace for all nations are all important to you.While you can’t stop war, you try to be as calm and compassionate as possible in your everyday life.You promote harmony and cooperation. You’re always willing to meet someone a little more than halfway.  

What’s Your Word?

I have finally finished sewing on the outside fabric, and the bottom has been fabric-covered and stitched in place, too.  It doesn’t look much different from the last time, I must admit.



The strip of fabric hanging from the back of the box will be the hinge.  It will be sandwiched between the lid pieces in the same way that it is sewn into the sides of the box.  It will be awhile before the lid goes on, since it will be a crazy patchwork piece, with some applique and embroidery on it, and I haven’t made it yet.  That’s the plan, anyway.

I know that many boxmakers use glue and gummed paper to put their creations together, but I am such a loser with glue…it always either gets smeared outside the fabric, or it oozes out of corners and just isn’t pretty.  I’m much better with a needle and thread, so that’s the way I roll.  I do get inspiration from books about boxmaking, regardless of technique, and so I was very happy to get this, earlier this week:













A Japanese book, with examples of fabric boxes made with the gummed paper and glue technique.  I ordered this from YesAsia.com, and was very pleased with their service.  The prices are good, and shipping was fast.  I don’t know why Japanese boxmaking books seem to have French titles.  I have another one called “Le Coffret”.  This book also seems to have an article about shopping in Paris (it’s hard to tell, exactly, since I can’t read a word of Japanese).   The box projects are lovely, and easily converted to my sewing methods. 

Japanese craft books are really inspiring.  They’re also pretty easy to follow, if you know the basics of a particular craft.  They always have step-by-step photos, and there are often helpful illustrations included, too.  I wouldn’t try learning an entirely new craft from one, unless you read the language.  The photos are gorgeous and artistic, and if you’re tired of the focus on beginner projects that is such a feature of North American craft books, you will be impressed by the sophistication and complexity of Japanese books.  There are lots of sellers on Ebay who specialize in these books, and there are some good prices to be found there, too.

Now there’s a subject that can provoke a quilter!  We all have our individual opinions about whether one should wash fabric before using it to make a quilt.  Do I prewash?  It depends on the quilt, and I thought I would share my own take on the subject, since I will soon be starting this:












Vintage Valentine, a pattern from the Vintage Spool.  Yes, this is the block of the month program that I was so eagerly awaiting.  Why did it take so long to reach me?  The package envelope got torn in transit, and Canada Post placed it in a plastic bag before forwarding it to me.  This, apparently, takes a week to perform.  I feel better about my own productivity now.  I did NOT order this from the Vintage Spool, it was another online quilt shop that I’m still not going to name because of their indifferent customer service.  Anyway, we were supposed to be talking about washing fabric, so here are my guidelines:

1.  If the fabric is Indonesian batik, I always prewash.  Most of these fabrics are colourfast, but every once in awhile there’s a bad apple in the barrel.  Better to wash it and not worry.

2.  If I am going to do hand applique, I always prewash.  This is because I use a wash-away stabilizer under my applique pieces, which I will have to wash out at some point because it contains starch (which attracts some insects).  Prewashing the fabric allows it to shrink before I make the block.  Then once I wash the completed block, further shrinkage will be minimal, and the applique work won’t pucker.

3.  If I’m using a deep red or green fabric, I will pre-test a sample.  Swishing a small square of fabric in warm, soapy water and then drying it on a white paper towel will reveal any tendency to bleed colour.  If it’s colourfast, and I’m making a pieced quilt, I will use the unwashed fabric.

4.  For any pieced quilt with fabric I am sure is colourfast, I don’t bother prewashing.  I like an old-fashioned, aged look to my quilts, and I don’t prewash my cotton batting, either.  Once the quilt is finished, the whole thing gets washed, and the shrinkage of the fabric and batting gives the quilt an attractive texture.

I’m glad that I wrote this down.  Now I can purge it from my short term memory.  I’m pretty sure it was taking up the space I need so that I can remember where I put my keys.

Of course, I could not resist starting the Rockin’ Sock Club socks.  I was a little nervous about knitting with beads, but I’m getting the hang of it, and it hasn’t been as slow as I thought it would be.  This is working up to be a nice sock.


I resisted knitting the pattern as written, since I’m so fond of toe-up socks, but since I want to learn some new techniques, I decided to follow along.  I’m really glad  I did.  This pattern is elegant.  The tubular cast-on is so neat and extremely stretchy.  After I took this photo, I knit the heel flap, and was  impressed by the way the stitches transition from the beaded lattice design to the slip stitch heel pattern.  I’m generally no fan of flap-and-gusset heels, but I’m actually liking this one.  Poor Clapotis is taking a back seat this week, but I’m working the decrease rows now, so the end is near.

Something wonderful is happening at Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  You should check out the sock club blog to see how Tina sticks up for her customers.  Every sock club member who wasn’t happy with their yarn received an immediate replacement, no questions asked (my skein was fine).  And she’s reading the Riot Act to the mill where she gets her base yarn.  In the long run, I believe this kind of customer support pays off.  Sure, she’s spending a lot of money to replace that yarn, but those club members will remember and keep shopping with her.

Apparently, consumers in the US have sharply curtailed their spending in January (this according to a radio news show this morning).  People who sell hobby supplies are going to be selling less, and to fewer customers.  Vendors like Tina will win, I think.

Late last year, I purchased a quilt Block of the Month program from an online fabric shop, which will remain nameless.  When I contacted them this week, politely suggesting that my package might have been lost in the mail, I received a very curt reply.  In short, because they can’t make a lost package claim with USPS for 30 days after shipping, they’re not interested in hearing from me for another week.  I paid them a month ago, and I’ve been a good customer for more than a year, but that apparently counts for nothing.  So, guess where I won’t spend my money next time I want some fabric?

I’m constantly impressed  by the quality of some of the free quilt patterns I’ve found online.  Here are a couple of new or soon-to-be-starting block of the month quilt patterns that you can collect at no cost.

Beth Ferrier of Applewood Farms has a lovely pieced and appliqued quilt called “Now and Forever“.  The fabric requirements are listed now.  The first block is available on Valentine’s Day.  She keeps each block pattern online for a month, and then it is replaced by the next block, and so on.  If you miss downloading one of the parts, you can buy it later.  Usually, after the BOM has run its course, she makes the entire pattern available in book form at her online shop.  Check out her blog, too, it’s interesting.

Baltimore Bliss, from FatCat Patterns, is a 12-block applique quilt in the Baltimore Album style.  Very girly and pretty (right up my alley).  The first block is available now, and the free downloads are available for two months at a time before they disappear.  If you just can’t wait, you can order the PDF file for the entire pattern for a reasonable price.  If you’re patient, you can collect the patterns for free.  I’m frankly amazed that something this beautiful can be had for nothing.  Thank you, generous designers!

If you don’t want to see the latest contents of the Rockin’ Sock Club, look away.  I’m going to show the yarn.  This is the first time I’ve been a part of the club.  Last year, I was too late to register, and I hadn’t actually knit anything with STR yet.  It was a lot of money to spend on a year’s worth of unknown yarn.

Having knit a pair of socks with STR lightweight, I’ve slowly been converted.  I loved the colours from the start, but that tightly twisted merino took some getting used to.  I like its springiness, but it tends to coil back on itself as it’s pulled off the ball, and that can drive me nuts sometimes.  The socks I knit in Lemongrass were uncomfortable on first wearing, but I should have been patient.  With a little time, they have become soft and comfortable.  I like a warm pair of socks, and they’re great that way.  So now I am a club member.

In addition to the yarn, there is a lovely pattern by Sivia Harding–with beads!  I’ve never knit socks (0r anything else) with beads before, and there are some techniques in this sock pattern that I’ve never tried, so it will be a challenge.  There is a tiny skein of  “emergency sock yarn”, lots of info about the dyeing process for this yarn, and a nifty keychain and pin with the club logo.   The yarn is STR lightweight and the colour is amazing:


It’s called “My Blue Heaven” and it reminds me of the ocean (I was born on the east coast).  Am I the only one who smells yarn?  This skein has a bit of the vinegar scent that still lingers on it from the dyebath.  I like that.  It’s taking a lot of willpower to not cast on right now.  Any bets on how long I will last?

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