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First Foray into Quilting

Almost a year ago, I decided I needed some cute accent pillows for my bed and I had been eyeing this book called, Pretty Little Pillows (Pretty Little Series).  All the pillows are really cute and look like they take minimal time.  I’ve sewed plenty of pillows in the past, so these looked a little more involved, but by no means intimidating for a beginner sewer.  I found a pillow in there that involves Cathedral Window Quilting, because my first quilting experience wasn’t going to be hard enough with just squares, I had to make it complicated. And that sentence just written sums up most things in my life that I do.  Jump into the hardest project first, not the easiest and somehow pull it off.

A year ago, this is where I was at with it.

Here’s where I am at now.

I like this so much that now I am thinking that I should make King sized pillow shams with this entire scheme…and I need 2 of them, because I just can’t help but make this project bigger.  I really like how it came along.  It is completely hand sewn, no machine here since I was going for an invisible stitch look.  Part of me wants two big shams and part of me wants to put a fork in it and only sew 1 more small pillow.  Decisions, decisions.  These were not very difficult to throw together.  It looks more complicated than it is.  It is just time consuming, but if you are already knitting, you probably aren’t shying away from lengthy craft projects.

The only reason it’s taken me so long to sew them is because I also juggle work, school, wifely duties and mommy duties.  This small pillow is really a short project and of the combined time I spent on it so far, I’ve probably only been working on it 3 evenings while watching TV.

Five Tips for Knitting a Swatch

I have compiled a list of things I have learned from knitting swatches over the years.  In knitwear, swatches are imperative!  In knitting toys or blankets, it isn’t as imperative unless you are knitting to certain dimension requirements.  I’m going to discuss why swatches are so important for knitting garments and what they tell you about the fiber you are using.

Tip 1: Only buy 1 skein of your desired yarn.

Never buy more than 1 ball of yarn for a project until you are certain that this is the yarn that will work best with your pattern and lifestyle.  The reason why is very simple, if you buy all the yarn for a project and then after knitting a swatch, find out it won’t work for your project, you could be out $60 – $200 with a pile of yarn and no project for it.  I’ve done this so many times and this is how you feed the stash.  If you are a minimalist or you just don’t believe in wasting money, only buy that one skein.  If it isn’t a match made in heaven, chances are that you aren’t out more than $20 and the upside is that there are plenty of one skein projects out there to repurpose the yarn with and since you already knitted a swatch, you will know if that yarn will be suitable for a future project.

Photo of one skein
This is all you need, just one skein of an irresistible yarn…how all good things start!

Tip 2:  Pattern in the round, means a swatch in the round.

If the project you are working on is knitted flat, then knit your swatch flat.  If your project is knitted in the round, knit your swatch in the round.  I cannot tell you how many times I did not swatch in the round for a project that was supposed to be knitted in the round.  Every time I failed to swatch in the round, I ended up with a garment that fit poorly.  The reason why you want to swatch in the manner that you are knitting the project in is because your tension is different for a purl stitch versus a knit stitch.  Knit stitches tend to have a higher tension than purl stitches do.  When you are knitting plain stockinette in the round your stitches will all be tighter than flat stockinette, resulting in a smaller garment, when you are purling reverse stockinette in the round, your stitches will all be looser than flat reverse  stockinette, which means a larger garment.  Ysolda has an ingenious way to swatch in the round and this is the way that I swatch in the round.

Photo of a swatch knit in the round.
This is my first “In the Round” swatch, before I found out you could just carry the yarn behind and almost knit like you were knitting flat. This swatch allowed me to try the stitch pattern and the edgings I would use in a sweater I knit.

Continue reading Five Tips for Knitting a Swatch

Spiral Doily Done!

Pattern: Doily With Spiral found on Yarnover.net
Yarn: 2 and a half balls of Royale Fashion Crochet Thread in Sage, 100% mercerized cotton
Gauge: 24 sts, 32 rows = 4 inches
Needles: US 4 16″, 24″ circulars, five US 4 double pointed needles, E-4 crochet hook
Modifications: None

This pattern gave me very little hastle to knit. At first I had read the pattern wrong on a couple of rows after the spiral part was done and had to rip back pretty far back to correct it. But then I realized what I did wrong, and it was my mistake not the patterns. Anyhow, its a great addition to our furniture in our living room. I chose to knit this doily because it looked a lot different from most doilies I saw and kind of reminded me of seashells because of the spiral pattern. Hence it would fit right in at home, since we have so many seashell things in our apartment…went with the theme. I plan to knit a couple more of these to go on the other end tables and a little table in our apartment.