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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hat and bag for one-year-old

To complete the present for the one-year-old birthday party, I made a hat. I figured it was about that time of the year, here in Australia, when a boy needs a knitted hat.

As his dad is a marine scientist, I found a 'fishbowl' hat in 101 Designer one-skein wonders. It is knitted as a tube with a knitted 'lid' inserted to close off the top- to give the notion of the rim of a bowl.

I used a ball of what I think is a wool/alpaca mix (not sure where that label went). The fish are pretty subtle in the wool, but will be sufficiently visible on the head.

To finish off the present, I made a bag in blue denim - those with good memories might recognise the leg of my jeans left over from the denim bags made last Christmas. The appliqued Holden rally car was from the One Stop Fabric Shop . I used elastic rather than a drawstring in the top in the hope Ed might open it himself.

Banana, bear, fish, car - I haven't exactly achieved a theme!

Maybe next time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bananas in Pyjamas

A recent invitation to a birthday party for a one-year-old sent me back to my knitting books - ones that I haven't looked at for a while. I initially thought I'd use the occasion to try out the knitted Meerkats, but decided a one-year-old might be more attracted to something from the book of knitted toys from ABC programs.

I made quite a lot from this book a few years ago, but had never made the Banana in Pyjamas - so it was a no-brainer. The book is out of print, but a few copies appear on eBay and Abebooks.

The Banana (B1) is knitted in two pieces - front and back,  You knit the trousers first, knitting sideways, then cast off and rejoin the yellow at the waist edge. A very simple and clever design.

You add a little bit at the top for a stalk and embroider the face. The pattern suggests button eyes, but I wanted to reduce the danger to a one-year-old from buttons.

The feet are crocheted in. Even I, who does not read a crochet pattern, managed this!

The coat is knitted in one piece from side to side, with rectangular sleeves inserted and a roll collar added. It is very, very simple and clear.

Veronica and Niamh helped me stuff him, and I did, in the end, add buttons to the coat.

I then made the teddy bear that belongs to the Banana, and made, for good measure, a sleeping bag for the teddy.

This was a fun present to make. There is a hat for the one-year-old and a bag to hold the gift - coming in the next  post.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I was inspired by a book reviewed in Stitch Magazine to embroider, in a small way, a hoodie for my grandson.

The book has a wonderful project for covering a hoodie in embroidery. I got my copy of the book from The Book Depository and I find it very inspiring. The patterns on the hoodie in the book were adult but I had never thought of embroidering a hoodie before and thought I could adapt it to meet a boy's sporting interest.

I didn't have a lot of time to complete this project in time for Fionn's birthday, so thought I would embroider the logos of two soccer teams he follows in relatively discrete places on a hoodie. If he likes the idea, I can add the logos of his AFL and SANFL teams - or any other motifs he wants to display.

The current logo for Adelaide United Football Club is a shield with streaks in club colours curving around the shape of a ball with stars.

I outlined the shield in double chain stitch and did the streaks in stem stitch. The letters are satin stitch. The stars worked very well using Mary Corbett's star stitch - a stitch to which I am becoming addicted.

Because the hoodie was blue, I needed to fill in the background of the shield in white - the hardest bit. I used fine cotton-a-broder and split stitch. The result is quite neat.

The second logo was more challenging and interesting - Liverpool Football Club, followed by Fionn and his Dad.

I chose the figure from a couple of variations on the club website and transferred it to Solvi. I then outlined the figure with three strands of red using stem stitch, then removed the Solvi.

I filled in the figure with slightly lighter red and finally inserted white to preserve the spaces between wing feathers and the stitching on the ball.
I placed this one to one side of the hood and added the words of the club song and club initials.

If Fionn wants more added, there is plenty of room on the hoodie ( and a year of so growth in the size) - and I can tailor it to suit his need.

This has proved to be very easy to work and popular with the recipient. I can see lots of possibilities for the future.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A week of quilting

Last week was quilting. I had intended to post this in instalments, but the quilt developed its own momentum, and here is the account of the whole week.

On Monday I set off to Hettie's Patch with my hexagon patchwork bedcover neatly ironed, to get some wadding, backing and advice on creating my quilt.

I ended up with polyester/wool wadding and a slightly-marbled neutral cotton backing. I had intended to buy enough quilting clips to hold my (vast) edges together, but the staff at Hettie's Patch insisted that this was unnecessary, and that glueing was the way to go, so I ended up with a can of spray glue instead.

My feeling is that this was a mistake. Although I followed their instructions about laying out the fabric, folding back, spraying and smoothing, the size of the quilt, the fact that I had no table big enough and needed to use the floor, made for difficulty.

I know it would have been difficult anyway, but I think I'd have been better off with the clips - and/or safety pins.

I was determined to quilt this myself - but did find it difficult and daunting. On Tuesday I began in the centre, intent on stitching along the edge of the black hexagons. I managed three rows in the centre, then switched to stitching every second black row.
It wasn't the thickness that defeated me, but the weight pulling on the needle and the difficulty of manoeuvring the fabric along the angles of the hexagons.

It took me all Tuesday to quilt the hexagons. On Wednesday we had friends to lunch, so I got little quilting done, but re-did a section or so where the tension had been loose.
On Thursday, I straightened, readjusted and pinned the border sections. I  released the fabric from the glue to get it smooth and even. I then ruled a starting line using an old 2 metre-long window-opening rod and a chalk pencil. Once I had the starting line, I could quilt in straight rows around each side.

Originally, I had intended to quilt the edges by hand in red and purple perle thread.  I decided, however, that the edges would be better without colour and a lot quicker by machine.

At the end of Thursday I had something that resembled a quilt and only the edging left to do!

On Friday I cut into strips the fabric I had left from the purple hexie centres.  I attached these to each of the four sides on the inside of the quilt. Again, I had originally intended to hand stitch the edging down, but could see no real advantage. I also recall seeing an example of someone using a decorative stitch on a quilt border, so decided to give it a go.

I chose a stitch that seemed to complement the hexagons and was fairly simple. It worked well, although again, the weight of the quilt made it difficult to prevent the stitches distorting slightly as can be seen at the left hand end.

That left the task of checking all the stitching and cutting all the threads.

On Friday afternoon the finished quilt went on our bed. The hexagons have dimension and the weight has proved  perfect for our autumn nights.

As a final touch, this morning, after a visit to Spotlight to buy a permanent fabric marker, I added the label my friend Vivienne sent as part of my birthday present earlier this year. I have called the quilt Re-collections, to capture the sense of memories in the quilt as well as the use of fabric and ideas collected over many years.

Thanks to all my friends and family who have encouraged and supported me through what for me has been a large project with quite a few unknowns. I wouldn't have made it without you all.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Of needles, thread and hexagon finishes

I spent a several days away in Melbourne last week. My hexagons were a convenient travel project and I got most of the last two rows of hexagons for my quilt finished.

I stitched them on to the quilt when I got home.

I am now in the process of appliqueing the border to the hexagon panel.

I have been using a pack of Roxanne applique needles for most of the non-embroidery stitching on this project. I really like this natty little container of needles.

The needles, however, bent so quickly I began to think they were designed to bend and this was meant to make applique easier. I continued to use each needle with the curve until it became unwieldy.

I also suspect that some of the problems I had with thread breaking was caused, or exaccerbated, by roughness on the inside of the needle eye wearing away at the thread. I tried a number of threads in the course of stitching the hexagons. My least favourite was Mettler cotton thread, which tended to shred and break. I had better luck with Aurofil Cotton Mako, which didn't shred and only broke a few times in a 100 metre reel. I had similar success with Gutterman cotton, but resorted in the end to Gutterman polyester which didn't break or shred and only rarely developed knots.

Obviously, I used more black thread than any other colour. After the first few rows, for the most part, I used either black or white thread. The white thread I used was a reel I inherited from my grandmother when she died in 1980. It is Coats Trident mercerised No.40 cotton - quite thick but smooth. It never broke, rarely knotted and never shredded.  I am very pleased to have used half the reel so my grandmother, too, can be part of this project.