Knitting the Sweetie Pie Kit

This post has been transferred from my previous blog. If you're visiting here from MlleOiseau, I'm happy to welcome you to my new space!

I love to knit. It's another skill I picked up when I was young; I learned how to knit from my mom, who I have never seen knit a day in her life, but who remembered well enough to teach me. As an adult, I found that knitting was a great way to manage my anxiety. It forces my mind to focus on small, simple tasks (much like to do lists, which I love to keep) and the repetitive motion is similar to counting prayer beads (perhaps that’s why knitting prayer shawls is so popular).

I've knit simple, flat pieces like scarves. I've picked up knitting in the round, and can bang out hats almost without thinking. I've even dabbled with toe-up socks! But it finally became time to try knitting a complete garment. I knew I wanted to try top-down construction, and I only had yarn enough for something small and sweet. Luckily I stumbled upon the Sweetie-Pie-Kit on the Pickles blog.

But my-oh-my, what a project. It started off so simple, and as soon as I got to the Fisherman's Rib, it all went south. I finally followed everyone's recommendations and looked it up online... valuable advice to all of the other knitters out there! If you’re here looking for the corrections yourself, this is what I tried: when knitting this rib flat, it must definitely be “P1, K1 in stitch below” instead of “K1, K1 in the stitch below” for Row 1 (same for Row 2 but in the opposite order, of course). At the very least, it seemed to work for me and I took off at quite a comfortable speed.

Curious about my other changes? I also followed mychildrensmother's (Ravelry) recommendation and added 4 stitches in each underarm to meet the required number of stitches. I don't remember the cast-on method I used, but I'm unhappy with it. When I reknit this for the third time (I've already passed this point on my second version of this sweater, where I used the cable cast on) I’ll have to try something else.

My final change was to use the super stretchy bind-off by Jeny Staiman, but I only thought to do this after ripping out the standard bind-off I used the first time around. Binding off loosely as the pattern suggests just didn’t do it for me, and after all of my hard work on the Fisherman's Rib I really wanted that lower edge to maintain the horizontal stretch. Want another idea? You could also try the more decorative picot bind off, which is said to also be pretty stretchy.

The Fisherman's Rib is just different enough to hold my interest while I knit, while being simple enough to do while watching television (although I can only look up every so often, still). The rib is also exactly as advertised, stretchy and plush and very snuggly-warm. It's very satisfying to see the sleeves quickly pop into shape (perk of top-down construction) and knitting in the round minimizes the seaming to be done later. It’s so cute! It gets lots of "ooh's and aah's" while knitting, which every knitter can appreciate.

I've sprinkled photos throughout this post, but I haven't mentioned yet that I haven't blocked the piece. This is 100% acrylic yarn (Vanna's Choice and Vanna's Choice Baby) and while it desperately needs to be blocked, I’m so nervous that the yarn will melt and it'll be destroyed. So please be forgiving of my uneven stitches, and I promise to start knitting with natural fibers!

My First Quilt

This post has been transferred from my previous blog. If you're visiting here from MlleOiseau, I'm happy to welcome you to my new space!

As I was sorting through photos and thinking about what to write next, I found my mind wandering to the time when all of this began. I have so many friends who can't sew a stitch, and who seem to think my ability to turn a ball of yarn into a hat or a pile of fabric into a dress is some sort of magic. Like anything else, though, my modest sewing and knitting abilities come from study and practice, practice, practice!

I still remember my first sewing lessons, which took place at a neighbors house. She offered to teach all of the young girls in our neighborhood to sew, if we could provide our own sewing machine and a simple dress pattern. My mother obliged, and my first project was a denim sundress that I wore it with pride until it just wouldn't fit anymore. The rest is history!

The one thing I haven't accomplished yet, however, is to make a quilt. That all changed this year! Between asking for help from the women in my church (almost all of whom quilt, I found!) and researching patterns and tips online, and I successfully completed my first quilt. It was made for my fiance's step-sister, who just had her first son. He is a sweet, happy baby and I was more than happy to gift this to him!

The pattern is the Zig Zag Quilt from the Purl Bee. I made a few modifications, such as dropping the broad sashes between the zigzags. This quilt took fifteen fat quarters, five colours and three patterns of each (and there are enough 4 7/8" squares left over for two more quilts of this size). The finished quilt is tiny, but it should be just right to tuck into a diaper bag and throw over a car seat.

To be sure I would like it before I got all the way through piecing the front, I made this doodle. Hurrah for crayola crayons!

It also helped me know how many patches to make, and which colours had to pair with which. I wound up needing only sixteen blocks of each pairing (red/orange, orange/yellow, yellow/green and green/blue) which results in cutting the following 4 7/8" squares: eight red, sixteen orange, sixteen yellow, sixteen green and eight blue.

I had also planned to put a patch of each colour across the back. In the end, I dropped that idea for a clean white back that would show off the quilting I had planned:

Instead of quilting in the ditch, I echo quilted 1/4" inside of each zigzag seam, using thread the colour of the fabric. On the back of the quilt, this resulted in coloured zigzags that popped off of the white Kona cotton. I wish I had a photo that displayed it better, but this will have to do:

All in all, I'm glad I started with this project. It was simple and small, but received a number of compliments. If you haven't tried quilting yet, or if you're an experienced quilter looking for something fun that lets you play with colour and pattern, I definitely recommend this quilt!