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Make Do and Mend: Recent Repair Projects

I’ve been working and plugging away at a number of repair projects, and while I’ve been posting them to Instagram, I thought I’d highlight a few here.  We’ve got one crochet piece and one knit piece.

The knit piece features a stocking that was hung over the fireplace with care – but was hung a little too close to the flames!

a christmas stocking with a hole burned through it

a christmas stocking with a hole burned through it

Not only did the warmth of the fire burn through the stocking, but it melted one of the stocking stuffers to the fabric, causing the bottle to leak all over the fibers.  It was a mess!

A side note: this is a really good reason to use wool when making anything that will get anywhere near heat – wool does not melt or burn like acrylic or cotton.

repaired christmas stocking ready to go back to its owners

repaired christmas stocking ready to go back to its owners

This stocking needed an overhaul – I pulled things out at the ankle and re-knit the foot.  I’m pretty pleases with the color matching – not perfect, but pretty close!


 

The other project I wrapped up was a crochet afghan that had developed a hole.  It was a nice diversion, since the last few repairs I’ve done of crochet afghans have been plain single crochet.

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The first step was isolating the crochet stitches that were in danger of unraveling.  Because this pattern is a gathered stitch, things are a little more tricky – there isn’t a one-to-one ratio of stitches.

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Then there’s the process of re-crocheting the area. I had a choice here: I didn’t have any of the blanket yarn I could harvest, so I could either use a closely matching yarn (which is tough to find with cream colored things), or I could crochet the piece in a slightly tighter gauge so I would have enough yarn to do the repairs (and weave in ends).

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This is a strategy that works well over a small area – in this case, this one pinwheel (marked by the teal thread). Over larger areas this would cause the area to pucker.


And that is most of what I’ve been working on!  What projects have you gotten off the needles/hook?

Mastering the Master Hand Knitter Program

IMG_20170517_154215159_HDRI’ve been considering doing the Master Knitter program for a while now.  Rather halfheartedly, because I wasn’t really sure where I would find the time, and I wasn’t sure of the benefit the designation would give me.  However, after Unwind, Mr. Turtle decided it was time to give me the push and sign me up for the Master Hand Knitter program.  Then I’d be committed.  The theory being, is that even at 30 years of age (with a child now!) I’m often still perceived as being younger and thus less experienced. (Ageism, anyone?)  The Master Hand Knitter certification would be a way for me to have outside validation that I know my stuff – and hopefully open more doors for teaching and other opportunities.

So I’ve been working on the swatches and reports for the first level, and it’s an interesting process.  Let me be clear before I write the next part: I have the utmost respect for the TKGA Master Hand Knitter Program.

Saying that, I’m finding doing the swatches and the work utterly boring and frustrating and counter-intuitive to my personality. Hint: I’m not that great a rule-following, and I tend to think I know better than the directions.

Part of this may improve with time as I get to the more difficult levels.  But part of me wishes that there was a way to “test out” of the lower levels – these swatches of garter stitch, stockinette, and basic lace are driving me BONKERS.  I understand that you need to follow the directions exactly – so that they can tell that you can follow directions, so that you can demonstrate that you can do various skills like yarn-overs and decreases without twisting stitches.

The whole thing is terribly tedious.

Then, I need to write reports about various techniques, citing sources and answering questions.  I need to be able to write directions on how to do the various skills to demonstrate that I can explain things clearly.

And the whole time I feel like this work is pulling me away from things I would rather do with my leisure or work time.  I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize – that big shiny pin and the proof that I’m able to do this work.  But… I’m finding it hard.  Part of it is I’m not entirely convinced that the time I spend on the Master Hand Knitter Certification will actually have any affect on my marketability.  And part of it is I feel like my accomplishments should be able to speak for themselves, instead of doing what feels like busywork.

But!  Continuing education is a good thing.  And who knows, maybe I’ll get my ego checked a little bit, and find things that I need to improve on.

Anyone else looked at or done the Master Hand Knitters Program?  What were your thoughts?

Coming to Fruition

Shamrocks and St. Patrick's dayNearly a year ago, in preparation for Little Turtle’s arrival, I made a dress.  Based off of my Rosemary and Bay pattern, this version was for my own child,much anticipated at that point.  I made the dress with a Shamrock and a bit of a St. Patrick’s day flair, since part of my family is Boston Irish, and I love the green shamrock motif.  It seemed lucky to make a dress for my future daughter with a shamrock on it.  Last week I got to put her in it, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the fit.

First of all, it’s taken me nearly 10 months to realize if I kept the sticker on the paper, I could get Rebecca to hold it in a way that looks like she is holding up a sign… doh!

But let me get back to the dress!

I’ve written about this dress before, HERE.  But I didn’t share the details.  The greenish yarn is from Mountain Colors, and is their Twizzle.  I’d originally gotten enough to make myself a vest, but then decided instead to use it to make a slouchy hat (which Michael then washed and accidentally felted so…).  This is made from some of the scraps.  The yoke, hem and waistband area ll made in Mountain Colors Twizzle.  The body is knit in cream, and is from Willow.  It’s Willow Yarns Attire Light.  This yarn had some faults in it, so there were more ends to weave in than usual.

When I made the dress, I accidentally reversed the directions halfway through, so the “seam” is smack dab in the middle of the dress, underneath the shamrock.  I’m not too pleased with it, but I’m not going to rip it all out so… I doubt anyone really notices when it is on Rebecca.

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Classes with Tinking Turtle

Golly, we’ve got a lot going on at the Turtle-Wrangling Ranch!  It must be spring, as my class schedule is picking up as I teach at Fiber Festivals and local venues.  Check out some of the highlights:


wp-1489607241853.jpegDances With Wool is located southwest of Richmond, VA in Midlothian.  I’ve got a bunch of classes I’ll be teaching there in the next few weeks:

  • Ravelry 101 (March 18) – Learn how to use the ever popular Ravelry website!
  • Stripes Three Ways (March 18) – We’ll cover three different types of colorwork, with a fun little twist!
  • Finishing Essentials (March 18) – This class is a must-take if you’re looking to learn to put a crochet or knit object together.

wp-1489607231169.pngFibre Space is one of my all-time favorite stores to teach in (partially because I love all the places to eat lunch in Alexandria… shhh!).

  • Padded Crochet (March 19) – I don’t teach this skill or this class often, so take it while it’s available!
  • Bind Offs (March 19) – We had such a great response to our Cast-Ons class, this one covers finishing your projects with intentional bind offs!

wp-1489607224330.jpegNext weekend I’ll be in North Carolina for the Carolina Fiber Fest. This’ll be my second time teaching at this fiber festival, and it’s at a new location!  I’ll be teaching:

  • Duct Tape Dress Forms – The first time I’ll be teaching it since my maternity leave – it was too hard on my body while pregnant.
  • Hairpin Lace Scarf in a Day – this crochet technique is great for quick projects!
  • Stripes Three Ways – This class is popular, and you’ll see why – it teaches some great colorwork techniques.

 

Unique Sweater Pillows Tutorial

Lately I’ve been able to dig my teeth into some interesting projects like the hobbyhorse blanket I repaired a couple of weeks ago. Today I wanted to share with you another project I’m working on.  I was approached by a client interested in having six sweaters turned into pillows.  A dear friend of hers had passed away, and she wanted to take her friend’s distinctive sweaters and turn them into pieces she could treasure.

I’ve worked a few times with commercial made sweaters; although more often I’m taking them apart for teaching purposes or using them to practice techniques I’d like to teach.  While this isn’t a tutorial per-se, it’s an outline of my process and some tips and tricks I’ve discovered after working on other smaller projects similar to this.

Stabilizer ironed onto the back of the sweater pieces

Stabilizer ironed onto the back of the sweater pieces

My first step was taking the sweaters apart.  All but one was chain-stitched together, which made disassembling them pretty easy once I got the hidden stitching undone. The last one was sewn together, which was a bit more of a pain to take apart. At least it was done in mattress stitch!

Next I ironed on stabilizer.  The stabilizer gave the knit fabric more woven qualities, which was needed for several reasons:

  1. It made sewing into the fabric infinitely easier.
  2. For colorwork or stranded knitting sweaters, it prevented unraveling.
  3. The stabilizer prevented the fabric from distorting by keeping lines straight and preventing stretching.
  4. For sweaters with button bands or zippers, it prevented them from accidentally opening.  It would allow some of the sweaters button bands to not be sewn, preserving some of the sweater-like qualities.
  5. It allowed the finished pillow to be sturdier.

On the very last piece of sweater I was just shy of covering the entire sweater.  Since I would be trimming most of the edges away, I pieced together a few extra scraps of stabilizer I had to finish it off (you can see this above).

Figuring out the size of the pillow, and making sure all the lines are straight

Figuring out the size of the pillow, and making sure all the lines are straight

After the stabilizer was on, I began to look at each sweater, determining the notable features of the sweater – what made it distinct?  How could I choose a shape that complimented the look of the piece?  Would the pillow look better as a square or rectangular pillow?

Cutting the pieces using a quilter's template and a fresh blade on my roller cutter

Cutting the pieces using a quilter’s template and a fresh blade on my roller cutter

This tall ice-skating Santa would have gotten cut off as a square pillow. I also loved the beading on the edge of this sweater and the beaded snowflakes.  I had to fudge cutting this pillow out to make sure that I caught all the elements that made it interesting.

I cut pieces to preserve the button bands, then had to make sure the button bands were in the center of the pillow

I cut pieces to preserve the button bands, then had to make sure the button bands were in the center of the pillow

I thought it was important to keep the qualities of the sweater above that made it interesting – button bands and ribbing at the edge. This pillow had a really thick button band that was nearly impossible to sew through, needing a lot of hand stitching.

After cutting out all the pieces and making sure I’d gotten them to the correct size, it was time to pin them together.  For most of the pillows I was able to use my sewing machine to sew at least three of the sides.  For two of them I was also able to machine sew part of a fourth side, saving on a lot of time.

A stack of sewed pillows, awaiting stuffing

A stack of sewn pillows, awaiting stuffing

The top pillow above, with the blues and greens, ended up being a favorite. I love the buttons on the button band!

 

Mattress stitch is almost always a perfect solution to having two fabrics come together invisibly

Mattress stitch is almost always a perfect solution to having two fabrics come together invisibly

Next I began hand-sewing the final edge of the pillows. I used #10 crochet thread instead of normal sewing thread. This was becasue I was having to yank at the pillows to get them to look the way I wanted them. This was doubly true when sewing through the button bands, and getting three layers of very thick knit fabric to come together.  Even still, sometimes I wasn’t careful and had the thread break.  Not fun!

Mattress stitch (aka ladder stitch) was my stitch of choice.

Pillow made out of old sweater, button band showing

Pillow made out of old sweater, button band showing

The pillows are coming together now! I wasn’t always able to get the ribbing to come together evenly on the bottom.  It’s a nitpicky detail, and probably something only I could notice. It couldn’t always be helped though. I love here how I could keep the button band unsewn, so it looks like the button band on a normal sweater, with that dimensionality! The thick stabilizer unerneath will prevent stuffing from escaping.

 

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Some close shots of the lovely beadwork on the bottom of the Santa sweater. I just had to keep a detail like this. I’m already wondering how to replicate this in a handknit design.

This has been a fun project and a unique way to honor a passed friend. In the next few days I’ll wrap up with the final touches – removing lint, straightening edges and getting ready to send these pieces back to my client.

Reweaving a Lace Knit Blanket, Part 2

Today I resume notes on my recent repair, a lace hobbyhorse blanket.  This is the second of the series detailing my thoughts as I worked through this reweaving and repair project.  You can see the first part here.

 

Base of the Hobby horse, stitches on locking stitch marker.

Base of the hobby horse, stitches on locking stitch marker.

When I last left off I’d gotten the piece reworked up to the lacework, and fixed a couple of runs that were below the hobbyhorse.  I’m ready to start working my way up the lace horse.

To review, this is what a whole hobbyhorse looks like (below). You’ll see I’m using stitch markers to visually mark my place – the green stitch marker represented the first line of stitches in a column that were whole and unraveled.

Reference hobbyhorse

Reference hobbyhorse

I got my stitches on a pair of needles and began “knitting” my way up the rows, following and mimicking the other lace horse.  I used a trick I often use with children and beginning knitters – the knitting needles are two different colors so I could easily remember which were right side rows and which were “wrong side” rows.  By that I mean the rows I was working with the lace (which would have been the right side of the pattern) and the rows I was just plain knitting (which would have been the wrong side, or the purl side).

Double pointed needles made it easy to not have to slip the stitches back and forth.

reknitting and reweaving the foot of the lace knit hobbyhorse

Reknitting and reweaving the foot of the lace knit hobbyhorse

At this point I was to the top of the horse’s foot and  began to notice a problem I hadn’t been sure about until that point.  I thought there was a jog in the line of decreases and yarnovers to the left, but I wasn’t quite sure.  As I began working the pattern up the leg of the horse, it became apparent that a couple of mistakes had been made by the origional knitter when knitting the horse.

Note: you’ll also notice that as I was making these repairs I wasn’t paying attention to gauge too much – both because I could go back and “adjust” areas, and also because this repair had a time budget – it was more important to get the repair to a place where it wouldn’t come unraveled.

reknitting and reweaving the leg of the lace knit hobbyhorse

Reknitting and reweaving the leg of the lace knit hobbyhorse

There were three apparent mistakes, but two of them affected the repair – circled below.  You can see the jog in the line of stitches on the bottom circle, and another jog at the line of stitches in the horse’s neck.  The third mistake, the one which may have led to the run in the first place, is right at the top of the dropped stitches.  The mysterious part of all of this was the fact that there wasn’t any broken yarn – the run must have resulted in a dropped stitch that couldn’t get fixed.

At this point I was also starting to suspect that there might have been an extra pair of stitches in the original pattern.  Looking at the horse I began to wonder if perhaps there was a fourth mistake that was lost when the stitches dropped down?  I’d been noticing that even accounting for differences in gauge, the stitches were really loose. This hypothetical fourth mistake would account for an extra row of stitches, and thus the extra yarn hanging out in each row.  I started to suspect that the drop might have resulted from the original knitter trying to fix those mistake; and perhaps losing a stitch in the process?

comparing how the hobbyhorse is supposed to look, vs the horse with the run in it

Comparing how the hobbyhorse is supposed to look, vs the horse with the run in it

By now I worked my way back to where the drop happened. I had to strategize how I was going to finish this repair off.  I had two different choices I could follow:

1.) Cut the yarn to reweave the affected area and then weave in those ends.

2.) Use additional yarn to sew the gap closed.

I discarded the first option for a couple of reasons: time and cost was a factor for this client. I also wouldn’t have much ends to work with when weaving things back together.  Since this is a child’s blanket, I wanted a sturdier option.

Instead, I went with option two.  I found some embroidery floss in as close of color as I could get, and cinched in the stitches.  I then sewed through the area several times, weaving in the ends afterward.

Getting ready to sew the run and hole in the hobbyhorse closed

Getting ready to sew the run and hole in the hobbyhorse closed

To get the stitches looking more even, and to test to make sure everything was locked in tight I decided to go with an unconventional approach for blocking. I wet the blanket, maneuvered the stitches so they looked as even as I could get them in a reasonable amount of time, and threw it in the dryer (since the yarn was dryer safe). This fluffed up the yarn, locked the stitches into place, and helped everything even out.

 

And there you have it!  This piece went off to its owner last week, back into the loving arms of a boy that will have it for years to come.

Getting Cocky on a Sweater

Remember how yesterday I said I had everything left but the seaming?  Well, dear stitchers, that’s what I get for being over-confident.

Yesterday, oh yesterday, the future was looking bright.  I had a sweater nearly done, a window in which to finish it, and a baby that would look adorable in said sweater.  Turns out, not so much.

You see, the problem starts with the sleeves.  I’d worked on the sleeves over the weekend, when I was teaching at Fibre Space.  I’d mentioned before how I was winging it, a little, on the sweater?  I mean, I’d worked out some rough numbers, and I knew basically how a sweater was supposed to look and fit.  I figured I could go from there.

Since I had a limited amount of yarn left (I was rather committed to only using one skein, since I’d technically “stolen” it out of my business inventory), I decided to knit the sleeves two at a time.  That way, I wouldn’t have to remember the shaping decisions I made when I went to work the second sleeve.  Also, that way if I ran out of yarn, and the sleeves ended up a little short, I could just claim they were meant to be three-quarter sleeves.  Not a big deal.IMG_20170128_195444[1]

My first downfall would have probably been leaving the rough numbers and calculations I made at home.  My second downfall was deciding I’d just eyeball things.

And my third downfall was ignoring my little niggling feeling in the back of my mind when I looked at the sleeves two-thirds of the way through, and wondered if they would be wide enough.  Instead, I allowed myself to feel smug when I finished the sleeves with only a few yards left to go.  “Just enough to seam,” I thought.

I think you know where this is going.  The sleeves?  They’re really, really small.  See those sleeves?  Yes, they’re curling up, but even when they’re spread out, they’re still small.

Still, I was in enough denial (it’s the yarn fumes, I swear), that I managed to seam one of the sleeves together, and pin it to the body of the sweater.  And then, just to verify, I shoved my child’s arm down the sleeve to truly see if there was any hope of salvaging things.IMG_20170130_094404459[1]

If you can’t tell, that’s my child, with her arm out, rather puzzled as to why she can’t bend it.  Hint: the reason is the stitches are so stretched out in order to get her arm thru the sleeve that she can’t bend her arm.

So the sweater, is in timeout where I decide if I want to unravel and re-knit the sleeves or raid the business for another skein to finish things off.

And to look at my numbers to see where I went wrong.  Wish me luck.

Little Turtle’s Sweater

Kimono SweaterA while back I made a sweater for Rebecca that fit for all of two minutes, and I’ve been wanting to make another since then.

A spare skein of Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller in Flannel Pajamas and a size 6 needle, and I was on my way.  Stacey Trock had made her daughter a sweater using a kimono type sweater pattern, and I remember how she loved it because it only had two fastenings.  I looked around at a couple of different styles, decided I really didn’t like anything (mostly because a lot of them tie up, and Rebecca would untie things as quick as fastened them).  So I played around with the numbers and started knitting.

You know when everything in knitting goes well?  It’s a simple pattern, minimal shaping, and the yarn is a joy to work with?  Well, this is that sort of project.  I love Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller base, I love the colors, and I like anticipating how cute this sweater is going to look on Rebecca.  I’ve got great needles to work on (nice a pointy, how I like them), and it’s nice to be working on something that well, isn’t for work.   A little bit of a break, you could say.  I’m going to have this done this week, and Rebecca will be able to wear it for the rest of the season, and it’s going to be wonderful.

I’ve got the body done, and I’ve got the sleeves done too.  All that remains is the final bit of seaming.  I can’t wait to have Little Turtle in the sweater, ready to wear.  As it is, it makes a cute vest.

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I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

PPS: also, appreciate this photo, above.  It’s really hard to get a picture of my daughter when she wants to wiggle.

Stitch Adventure Sale at Dances with Wool

jennifer+Raymond+teachingI’ve talked a little bit about my new partnership with Dances With Wool, a yarn store just outside of Richmond, VA.  I’m super excited to be able to teach at this wonderful, vibrant new store.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to teach weekly classes, and to develop many of the relationships that I loved when I taught at Woolwinders.

This week we’re running a sale on a particular type of class – our inaugural Stitch Adventure class.  What is Stitch Adventure?  It’s a class that gives you the benefits of a private lesson – flexibility and ability to cover a variety of topics, with the community aspect of a class.

Stitch Adventure classes can be a great way to tackle a new project that you need a little help on.  If you want to be held accountable to finishing a project up, we can do that.  And if you need help picking a project and finding the right yarn, the instructor is right there for you.  Each class you can bring in a new project – it doesn’t matter if it is knitting or crochet, since I can help you with both!

Right now the Stitch Adventure class is discounted 25% off – so sign up before we start on February 1st.  The class with run Wednesdays, Feb 1, 8, 15, 22  7-8 PM.

I’ll see you there!

News about Upcoming Classes & a Sale

Hairpin lace against a table

Fibre Space Classes

This weekend on Saturday the 28th I’ll be at Fibre Space in Old Town Alexandria, VA to be teaching two different classes:

Ooops: Fixing Mistakes: If the sight of a dropped stitch, a mixed up cable, or a problem in your lace sends you scrambling for the LYS, this class if for you. Learn to fix your mistakes!

Hairpin Lace Scarf: This highlights a fun riff on Hairpin Lace by making a quick project that will teach you the basics of this stunning technique!

I also am trying out something a little new: I’m scheduling a few Private Lessons for students that miss the one-on-one attention or would like to discuss a topic outside of my normal class offerings!  I’d love to meet with you then!

 


Dances With Wool Classes

I’ve also been fostering a new relationship with Dances With Wool, in Midlothian, VA, just outside of Richmond.  I’ve got a number of classes coming up with them.sugar+maple+hat

Sugar Maple Hat is a great class for learning how to work in the round, working cables, and reading a knitting pattern with cables.  The class will run February 1, 8th and 15th.

If you want to learn how to work  socks, this next class is for you.  Toe-up socks: Time Traveler covers how to cast on for a toe-up sock, how to work a riverbed heel, a primer on intermediate lace (just enough to keep your interest!), and a folded over brim.  Classes are spaced out so that students have the time to work on the pattern before getting to the next place.  Dates are February 22, March 8th and March 22!

I’ve also got a new sort of class that I’m running at DWW, called Stitch Adventure.  Got a project that you want to work but want a bit of handholding along the way?  Need help on choosing yarns or tackling a new skill?  Want to be held accountable to get those projects done?  This is the type of class for you! And this week, we’re running a sale of the class – 25% off.  Signup here!

 


Classes at the Ashland Library

And now, finally one last opportunity I want to call your way.  If you live in Ashland, VA, I’ll be teaching a Beginning Knitting and Beginning Crochet class this month.  Volunteering and making needlework accessible to everyone is an important cornerstone of my personal values.  At the same time, I don’t often give my instruction away for free, as it’s one of my primary methods of income.  Still, sometimes I feel it is important to give back to my community.

Thus, I’ll be teaching two different events at the Ashland Library this month:

Beginning Knitting Workshop
Wednesday, February 1, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Jennifer Raymond, owner of Tinking Turtle Designs will show you how to get started with your first knitting project. No experience necessary. Supplies provided. Call or visit the library to sign up.

Beginning Crochet Workshop
Wednesday, February 15, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Jennifer Raymond, owner of Tinking Turtle Designs will show you how to get started with your first crochet project. No experience necessary. Supplies provided. Call or visit the library to sign up.