December 15, 2014

Knitting: Teddy Bear pt. 2

I thought I might have enough yarn. I managed to get the body, two arms and one leg. I still have the other leg, two feet, two ears and a tail. I probably can squeeze out the second leg, but that's it. So, this teddy bear will be frogged at some point and the yarn will end up in some scrappy socks.

It's ok. I'll try the bear again. The pony beads worked out great in the bottom of the body and I'll use them again. They do make a noise as the bear is moved, but I'm not sure that is a bad thing. I'm also not sure they are less expensive then the poly pellets at least when ordered online. But, the beads are available at Walmart. I did try the beads in the arms and decided not to add them there. I might have added them to the feet, but I didn't get that far. A one pound bag of beads could be used in several bears.

Another option to contain the beads or poly pellets is to make cloth bags to hold them. This way they won't escape through the knitted fabric. I may do that on the next try.

The bear could really be made in any weight yarn. I do have some acrylic worsted weight yarn that I could use, but that just does not sound appealing. I do like the smaller size bear in the sock yarn weight. I'll have to keep my eyes open for sock yarn on clearance at the craft store...

December 11, 2014

Knitting: A Teddy Bear

Writing on the grading book is temporarily on hold again. I ran across two more books on grading and size development and I've been working my way through some pretty in depth information. The good news is that a lot of what I have written thus far is supported by academic experts. There are some interesting bits of information too, so I've got a list of possible blog topics for the future on grading and sizing.

In the mean time, I started working on a teddy bear with left overs from my last pair of socks. The pattern is Susan B. Anderson's Baby Bear made with sock yarn. In the picture above, I have the body done and I've started on the head. It will be tight with the left over yardage, but I think I will have just enough.

The pattern calls for poly pellets, which are weighted, slightly flat plastic beads. The beads give the toy weight so that it can sit up. I did not use these on my last knitted toy because I could not find them locally. I wish I had used them because the toy really could have used a bit of weight. My biggest concern with these is that they may work their way through the knitted fabric. If I were to use them, I would go down a needle size and knit a denser fabric. These beads are also a bit more expensive than other options.

My grandmother once made a stuffed toy for me and used dry beans. Dry beans work great, but it also means you cannot wash the toy. The mom of the intended recipient will probably want to wash the bear because I can see it being dragged everywhere. I tried the beans in the bear above and the body sits nicely, but I'll be replacing the beans with my third choice below.

Pony beads. These measure 9mm and are a little larger than the poly pellets. They are also cheap and would probably survive a spin in the washer. I'm not sure they are as heavy as the poly pellets or the beans. I ordered a large bag and will give it a try. I'll post another blog when the bear is finished.

December 01, 2014

Knitting: More vanilla socks

I have been super busy this Fall. I can't exactly explain what it is that I've been doing. At least I couldn't until I started a bullet journal. I've always been a listmaker but I've never been very good at looking at my lists after I created them. This system contains my brain, but is also helping me stay on task a little better. I'm one month in and I'm liking it so far. I've expanded at looking at youtube videos with planner walk throughs. I'm surprised in this day of digital that so many people are spending so much money on paper planners. I've tried digital setups and it has never worked for me. I am still in beta with this because I want to figure out a better project, business, and home planning system. Perhaps some combo of digital and paper with the bullet system. I do know I want to keep my planners smaller and more manageable than a filofax or Erin Condren. Is it possible to keep track of everything in a bullet journal? I don't know but I'll see if I can.

Besides wasting time at youtube and pinterest (lots of free printables!), I managed to knit up another pair of vanilla socks in record time. I really like this sock yarn by Premier Yarns - Serenity Sock. The yarn is affordable, available at chain stores, and super comfortable. The socks can be machine washed but will shrink in the dryer. This colorway is called Saffron. I would love to get this yarn in solids.

I managed to match the stripes on the sock until the toes, where each sock went it's own way. I tried the Fish Lips Kiss Heel twice on sock number 1 and did not like it. I still managed to get holes at the end of the short rows. I know many people love this heel but I found the instructions were a turn off. I switched to my regular heel flap which turned out great.

November 17, 2014

Book Review: BH&G Quilting pieces of the past

I've had quilting on the brain lately. I don't really have time for it right now, but I do have plans. Who doesn't when they have other more pressing projects? When I'm in the zone for some other crafty venture, I usually waste time on Pinterest or borrow books from the library. In this case I came home with Quilting Pieces of the Past (Better Homes & Gardens).

This book was published back in 2004, which doesn't seem all that long ago. The book traces the last 175 years of quilting with 54 quilting projects and full size pattern pieces in an attached insert in the back of the book. The book is divided up into distinct historical periods followed by quilts that are reproductions of that time or inspired by that time. Many of the quilts in the book are drawn from previously published Better Homes and Gardens quilting patterns.

The historical information is very interesting but not nearly as in depth as I would have liked. But it does contain full color pictures throughout with fabric swatches representing the color and style of fabric used in quilts for each time period. The biographical information on the early quilt designers was interesting. Each section contains a historical time period showing the major events of the day so that the reader can understand what influenced some of the quilt designs.

Some of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book poor reviews because many of the projects were not updated with contemporary styling or colors. This did not bother me so much because the quilts were meant to be reproductions of older quilts anyway. It would be easy to update the quilts with newer, fresher color schemes and fabrics. The instructions are where the book struggles a bit. Most of the instructions rely on traditional cutting and piecing techniques. This means that some of the quilt blocks are more difficult to put together because of inset seams. This is particular true with the Lemoyne star block, Bride's bouquet, and a few others. More modern techniques have broken down these blocks to make them easier to piece using strips and special rulers. Some of the quilt blocks are quite intricate and would require very precise cutting and sewing. Several of the quilts are applique quilts and the book contains no instructions on applique.

Despite those deficiencies, I still really liked the book. I loved reading the historical sections and seeing the quilts that came from each time period. I do like many of the quilts in the book and I could see myself making some of them one day. If nothing else, the book could be used as a source of inspiration. It would be easy to take some of the more traditional blocks and up date them. This book is not really for beginners because of several difficult to make quilts  and the sketchy instructions. Still, there are a few projects a beginner could probably attempt without too much difficulty.

Book Rating: 4 stars

November 05, 2014

Cutting dimensions for quilting pre-cuts

I've been spending too much time looking at quilting projects on Pinterest and YouTube lately. Perhaps an act of avoidance for other things. Quilters throw around terms like fat quarter and jelly roll, but it took me a bit of time to know what those things mean in terms of actual cutting dimensions. I trolled around Pinterest looking for a printable that explained those terms for me. I found lots of pretty full-color infographics, but I wanted a one page, black & white piece of paper to hang next to my cutting table. I couldn't find anything suitable, so I opened up Inkscape and made exactly what I wanted. I prettied it up with different fonts and a border.

Click on the image below for the full size. It should easily fit onto an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper.

I slipped it into a page protector and now it lives with my cutting tools next to my cutting table.

Spending all this time thinking about quilts and quilting means that I do have plans for projects.