I got a phone call two days ago – did I happen to have three pairs of socks for sale (one for a man who wears size 9 shoes)? My answer was “Yes” and “No”.
A month ago I went through my stash of socks and put names on all but one pair – my Christmas gifts: one to the woman who cuts my hair, one pair for my massage therapist, one for the gal who does my nails… and a few pair as gifts for friends. So “Yes” I had socks in the stash but they were already allocated. And “No” I didn’t have any to fit a man’s size 9 foot.
So what do you do? These are for sale – same price as last year $50/pair. So I took the undesignated pair, removed the toes, added 10 rows to the foot, then reknit the toes – an evening’s work for each sock. That solved the problem of a pair large enough for a man.
I went through the designated socks – decided I probably had enough time to actually knit another one and a half pair of socks between now and Christmas – so she can have two of those; three pair of socks in all.
I’m set to deliver them today. The payment is a “payment forward” – she will send it directly to an endowment fund at our local children’s hospital to support their Child Life program. I’ve been building that endowment for almost 25 years with my annual contributions plus donations like this one. It’s not a huge endowment (although it keeps growing) but it does provide books and supplies for the children who participate in the program while they’re in hospital.
Here is the quilt top – finished – borders in place. Final size ~ 50″ x 70″ (I’ll measure it when it’s finished).
Quilt Top – Completed
It has taken a lot of fiddling, and looking at the photograph I can see spots where I could make more block swaps – but this is it. No more replacing blocks – I’ve done enough. I’m prepared to live with this outcome. Besides, the quilting will integrate the blocks; I will use some kind of variegated thread that both blends but contrasts with the fabrics.
Leftovers from remade blocks
I realized quite early on the bright blue blocks were going to be too bright so I remade almost all of them, substituting darker fabrics, particularly in the upper right quadrant. I haven’t counted them – I don’t want to know how much extra work I actually did. I’m happy with the reconstructed blocks, I was able to make enough to distribute throughout the panels surrounding the central panel.
I was keeping one eye on the Moda quilt pattern as I worked and that was a mistake – I thought it would make the process simpler (give me an idea about how many blocks to make, what pairings to set up) – it made it more difficult. Because I wasn’t using the suggested fabrics I had to reconsider and rework selections/pairings I’d made even after large sections were stitched. The quilt pattern uses large blocks in the outer regions – those elements turned out to be difficult to incorporate and keep the whole flat – I would have been better off to have constructed the quilt from 3 1/2″ blocks throughout. Next time I attempt something freeform like this, I will put the stimulus photo away and work from scratch basing decisions on the fabrics and the colour movement I want to achieve.
Now onto the back – I have absolutely no idea what to do with that. I think I’ll take the top to the fabric shop to see what I can find. I know, without looking, I have nothing in my stash that will suit the quilt top.
It’s a dull day today, hard to get a good photo without more daylight, but this image does give a sense of how this quilt is building out.
I added a row at the top and along the left side, a panel across the bottom and another (built from two smaller panels) to the right. Along the way, I found myself taking bits apart and changing out blocks to better the colour movement down and to the right.
The next section is a panel, constructed from segments of the background with just a few HST dotted here and there. This panel will extend the length of the whole by about a foot giving a good throw quilt size.
The final borders are constructed from background fabric – and I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough. With a bit of luck the yard I bought online the other day will arrive soon.
There it is. I’ve just finished assembling the central panel.
It took a careful, precise pairing of blocks in rows, making sure I pressed the seams in an appropriate direction so I could juxtapose the blocks when stitching the rows. Not a task for the disorganized. Fortunately I’d taken lots of photos of the arrangement on the floor so I could refer to them as I was painstakingly sewing these blocks together.
I’m happy with this layout – I got rid of a lot of the “squareness” in the pattern and what’s left will be dulled when I add the darker bordering elements which are all much darker.
I also managed to align the points pretty well (not perfectly – I can see a few small irregularities) – even another quilter would have to have an eagle eye to spot them.
So, tomorrow – since there is no aquafit (the pool is closed for the next 10 days – probably longer – COVID-19 precautions, right? We’re all working hard here in NS to keep the lid on the virus – we’re getting spread but so far it’s not escalating exponentially…). I have NOTHING else on my calendar. I’ll be able to get up and get to work on the next set of bordering panels.
[BTW: The pink bit in the lower right corner is a post-it note saying “Bottom Right” so I had a reference point to keep me oriented as I was assembling the panel (I built up the panel starting at the bottom rows simply because I could reach them more easily without having to worry about inadvertently shifting blocks).]
[BTW 2: Yesterday I bought some of the striped fabrics specified in the original quilt pattern – I’m thinking it might be interesting to try this quilt again as a “postage stamp” quilt ending up with 1 1/2″ blocks. That’ll be a challenge because the HST will be very small – same number of blocks, however. I think those striped fabrics were an interesting aspect of the original design and I want to see if I can make them work without following the pattern!]
I’m progressing – I haven’t begun sewing yet – I’ve spent the past three days walking around the panel arrayed on my floor, moving a block here, changing a block there.
This morning I removed 8 HST with the bright blue with dots and remade them using some Stonehenge fabric (in dark blue and teal tones) which I bought yesterday. Then I placed them into the array. They register as medium in colour supporting the “bright” centre of the panel.
The “squareness” of it is now more or less gone. I have the light moving toward the bottom left corner. The adjacent panels will continue that colour movement. I’m now ready to assemble these rows.
In the meantime I’ve begun laying out segments to fit around this piece which bring elements of the medium and darker blue shades into mostly background strips and blocks. I have sewn a portion of one of the side panels and lain out two others. These pieces become constructed, more and more, from the background Sparkle fabric, until finally the borders just use background (fingers crossed I actually have enough – I ordered another yard yesterday just in case because I have a suspicion I will need more than I have).
I finally have a handle on the ratio I’m working with. My quilt will turn out 78% of the original (that’s because I changed 4 1/2″ blocks to 3 1/2″). Knowing that ratio now lets me construct the panels elements and borders which I intend doing after I sew the main centre panel together.
I’d seen a photo of the Comet Quilt some time ago and thought it would be fun to try creating something like that – a light centre against a dark background. I went through my fabric stash and pulled out a pile of light batiks, a bunch of medium, and a few dark.
And then the fabric pile sat there while I worked on the three Skyline quilts. I was intending to work on a wall art piece next but the fabric pile started calling to me – I looked at the Moda pattern to get an idea of how I wanted to work on this. I wanted a throw size (~50″ x 70″) – quite a bit smaller than the pattern was describing. So I had a couple of choices – fewer blocks, or smaller ones. I decided to duplicate the 18 x 23 blocks using 3 1/2″ half-square triangles (finished size 3″).
This is where the whole process becomes quite complicated. I’m using a set of my own fabrics (not those in the pattern) so as I read through the pattern to guesstimate of how many HST I would need I realized I was not going to be able to manage any kind of match-up to the blocks in the pattern. I cut the same number of light blocks, medium blocks, dark blocks. I matched up some light/light light/medium, light dark, medium/dark, dark/dark combinations, marked the stitching lines, sewed the blocks, cut them apart into HST, pressed them, and trimmed them carefully to 3 1/2″.
Then I cleared a space on my studio floor and began laying them out:
I put the Moda instructions with photos aside and just played with the blocks trying to create the “startburst” for the quilt centre.
I’ve been taking photos, moving blocks around, taking more photos, moving more blocks. this is where I am at the moment – the central 11 x 11 block centre panel. I’m sure when I see this tomorrow morning in the daylight I’ll move blocks again.
In some ways this improvisation is easier than trying to follow the pattern layout! I can just make decisions based on the blocks I have and see how the panel turns out.
What’s obvious is that my “medium” colour tones are brighter than the fabrics used for the original. So my quilt, overall, will be brighter than the Moda original.
Once I’m satisfied with a layout for this panel, I will sew the blocks together, first into rows, then stitch the rows. I have to do that, because I will need to plan the outer panels based on the size this panel works out to be. The Moda pattern will give me an idea about how I will want to use my dark/background HST squares but I can’t cut my background fabric yet because I don’t know the size required for the remaining elements!
Finished this pair of socks last evening – socks for a friend’s daughter. Smaller than I usually make I hope they fit her. I like the rust coloured stripe that occurs both I the purple and the turquoise sections. That, and the darker blue elements give this yarn a nice lively look.
Wednesday past was a glorious day – Remembrance Day. My friend Mary Ann and I decided to spend the day visiting Mahone Bay (to have lunch, visit Have A Yarn Wool Shop (if it was open), and to pick up a piece of used furniture she had seen on Kijiji,).
The day started off with dense fog here in Halifax but by the time we reached Chester the sky was clearing and in Mahone Bay it was sunny and warm – like 20°C warm.
We had lunch outdoors at The Biscuit Eater – mild enough to be without jackets. Then visited Have A Yarn – and of course I came home with a couple of balls of Sisu solid yarns (to fill in missing shades from my stash). We picked up the old table Mary Ann wanted.
She has some interesting yarns but her collection of Kaffe Fassett/Free Spirit Fabrics (the most complete in the province) is to drool over. The fabric collection is small compared to the quantity of bolts you’d see at Avonport Discount Fabrics (the other must go to fabric spot in Nova Scotia) but this is just about the complete collection of Free Spirit fabrics.
The collection is a lovely quality of quilting cotton. The prints, both large and small scale) are compelling. I spent quite a long time looking through each shelf. It was so tempting to pick out bolts but I already have one drawer in my stash with Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs fabrics – I couldn’t make any decisions. In the end I did come home with a 21 piece fat quarter bundle to add to what I already have.
It’s one thing to go shopping with a quilt idea in my head – quite another to walk into a riot of colour like this and make any decisions! I had the same experience in New York in 2012 at the button warehouse we visited. I walked up and down the isles of buttons unable to pick out anything – what size? what colour? what quantity? Buttons are something you pick out after you have selected the fabrics and made decisions about what you’re making. A tailored shirt needs 11 small buttons, a wool jacket might look good with 5 large bright ones…. It’s the same with quilting fabric – do I want some fat quarters, half yards, full yard cuts? Or am I looking for a specific backing in which case I will need 2 metres. I just don’t know.
So I added some fat quarters to my collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics:
Now I just need to think about what to make with them…. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Completed these socks a couple of days ago. They turned out not badly. After I finished turning the heel turned I decided to continue with the single yarn until I was midway through the foot when I decided to add a couple of contrast rows to connect the foot to the leg.
I know the recipient will be happy to have them. They’ll keep her smallish feet warm!
I have a friend who’s picked up sock knitting again after many years. I was describing to her how I set up the casting on. I decided I might as well share that information:
Invisible join when casting on
for knitting in the round
There are lots of ways of casting on for knitting in the round – as I was checking out YouTubevideos I didn’t quickly find one that does it in the same way I do, so here is my method:
I use two needles held together in my right hand and cast on over both needles.
I cast on all the stitches (usually 64 stitches for a women’s sock) on both needles.
When I have the required number of stitches, I add one more stitch (you’ll see later why I do that).
Next I carefully pull one needle out of the stitches – now I have the required number of stitches (plus one) on a single needle that are somewhat loose and much easier to knit into for the first row.
Here’s how I set up to knit in the round – I use double pointed needles because I find them easier than having to continually slide stitches along on a circular needle (when you can find one short enough for sock knitting).
With 64 stitches, I slip 8 stitches onto the first dp needle;
I slip 16 stitches onto the second; I slip 16 stitches ontothe third, I slip 16 stitches onto the fourth – that leaves me 9 stitches on my last (original cast on) needle.
I bring the two end needles with the 9 stitches (on the right) and 8 stitches (on the left) together, making sure I don’t twist the casting on, knit the first stitch on the left hand needle,
slip what was the end stitch on the first needle (that is the extra stitch you added when casting on) over the first knit stitch – that secures the join.
Continue knitting – knit one more stitch (you’ve already knit the first stitch when making the join), purl 2, knit 2, purl 2…. What you’ve done is make the join in the middle of a needle – much easier to handle than trying to make the join between two needles.
[When you finish knitting that first needle you will have 8 unknit stitches (on the right) and 8 knit stitches (on the left) on one needle with the join in the centre.]
The nice thing about making that join in the centre is that it’s much easier to handle in the next couple of rows than trying to make that join between two needles.
If you happen to be working with a different number of stitches – I often start with 68 or 72, then I’m not going to have the same number of stitches on each needle – for 68 – I put 8 stitches on the first needle, 20 on the second, 16 on the third, 16 on the fourth, and I’m left with 9 on the last needle. For 72 stitches I distribute them 8, 20, 16, 20, 9. The reason for doing it this way is that those numbers are divisible by 4 which means I can K2 P2 and end up without knitting that pattern over two needles – the K2 P2 pattern fits on each needle.
Once I’ve finished the cuff, then I redistribute the stitches so that I have the same number on each needle – with 68 stitches I have 17 on each needle; with 72 stitches I end up with 18 on each needle. In both of those cases I knit ~25 rows, then decrease one stitch on each needle (and with 72 I decrease one stitch on each needle again at ~ row 40 of the leg) to end up with an ankle that has 64 stitches. When the leg is long enough (I generally knit 80 rows) I knit the heel flap, turn the heel, pick up the gusset stitches, begin knitting in the round again decreasing for the gusset, then knit the foot, rounding off the toe.
Here are a bunch of YouTube videos which show variations on the technique.
Only one casts her stitches on over double needles and then only on a single needle, many are knitting with circular needles, but you’ll see how the technique makes the join and be able to adapt it for yourself.