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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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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.

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.

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.

Works in Progress.

The leaves are starting to change, the windows are open day and night, and it’s fall, fall fall!  It’s my favorite time of year.img_1557

Life has been busy in the Turtle Household.  Last month my sister, Rosemary, moved to Richmond.  She’s been settling into her apartment in Richmond, and it’s so wonderful to have another member of the family close by.  We’ve been getting together quite often, as she doesn’t know many other people right now.  It’s wonderful, as Auntie Rose is great with Little Turtle, and I’ve been able to take a bit of breathing room.

Last weekend I was over at Fibre Space, teaching a handful of classes.  It was my second time being away from Little Turtle for an entire day (the first being when I was hospitalized).  After teaching, Rosemary, my brother Matthew, and I got together for dinner, and it was a lovely hour getting to catch up all together.

Meanwhile, Little Turtle is growing so quickly, already able to sit up, with a little help from her boppy.  She loves sitting outside on the mat her grandmother sewed for her, looking at the trees and the cats and her mama knitting.  She’s quite vocal, frequently letting people know her thoughts with shrieking, humming, babbling and generally making noise.  She’s a smiley baby too, interested in the world and really not keen to view it on her stomach.

Little Turtle’s grandma has been furnishing her her with October and Halloween themed outfits, one of my favorites being this dress:

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But let’s be frank, you aren’t really checking here for adorable pictures of babies, right? *wink*

So what has Tinking Turtle been up to?  I’ve got a variety of designs that have released over the summer and into this fall – more on that next week.  I’ve got two crochet designs I’m working on, a tank top and a blanket.  I’ve also got a knitting project on the needles for a class I’ll be teaching later this fall.

This week my online class, All About Yarns is wrapping up.  I’m sad to see it finish.

Meanwhile, Watson has been helping with the guarding of yarn balls.

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And I’m hoping, rather futilely, to knit a wee sweater for Rebecca before she grows too big to fit into it.  That may be stretching things a bit.

What have you been up to?

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All the Handknits!

I’ve had a number of people asking me if I’ve knit a lot of things for Little Turtle, or if I was planning to.  Truth is, other than my Shamrock Dress, there hasn’t been much knitting on my behalf for the baby.

I’m fortunate, though, in that I have a community around me of crafty people who do knit and crochet, and have made our future child some lovely gifts.  I thought I’d share a few of them!

The first one has a bit of a story – I’m part of a stitching group that meets in Ashland every Monday night.  They’re a great group of ladies, and it’s always one of the highlights of my week getting to meet and catch up with them.  On Monday evening I walked into the room, running slightly late, to a big surprise.

There was cake and decorations, and , much to my unexpected joy, was a gift beyond words.  The ladies of the group had made Little Turtle a blanket – squares filled with elephants and bunnies, trains and boats, flowers and butterflies.  It was an amazing show of joy and anticipation and love.

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I’m finding that it is more than a little humbling to have someone craft for you.  When someone makes you a blanket or a community makes you an object, I know how much it means.  I know how much time goes into working on something, I know how much thought and work goes into each motion.  The person carries that item around with them for weeks, snatching time between other tasks, in the evening before bed or while waiting in the car.  There’s a message that you’re worth that time to them – you’re worth the effort of setting aside those minutes to make something for you.

I have another friend, who’ll I just call L (since I don’t have permission to use her full name), who I’ve known for the last 5 years.  We struggle with some of the same faults in our personalities – we can both sometimes have trouble with boundaries and we’ve struggled with our weight.  She’s a big spinner and knitter, and when we get together it’s like we’re both 5 years old again.  She also knit a blanket for Little Turtle.

Her blanket is different than the first blanket as night and day.  For one, this is made by one knitter’s hands.  It’s a wool and cashmere blend, as light as a feather and softer than my cats.  I’ve picked it up and held it to my face multiple times.  It’s knit in fine, fine yarn.  It’s also one of the reasons I tell people not to discount garter as being elegant.  Many people associate garter stitch as being more rustic, and perhaps even a little basic.  I can understand why as it’s often used in sturdy garments and in baby wear.

But here the lace is as fine as the yarn, subtle and stunning.  The yarn actually shares a name with L’s dog, Gracie.  The colors are subtle and more mature.  This blanket isn’t in a yarn that’s superwash, that’s meant to be thrown in the laundry when it has spit-up on it.  This is a christening blanket, that then becomes the nursing blanket you bring to church or synagog.  Later it may become a shawl or a treasured heirloom for the child.  Still, the message is the same: I thought of you and your child.  Here are my prayers and well wishes, my hope for the new life to come.

Again, so humbling.

The next two blankets are also from close friends.

This blanket was made by my workout buddy and altogether closest friend in the Richmond area, Krista.  It’s made as a nod to Little Turtle’s nickname before we decided on her real name.  Mr. Turtle and I called the babe Kiwi, after one of the fruits she was the size of in the first trimester, and somehow it stuck. (It may well also be because of how many kiwi’s I’ve eaten over the course of this pregnancy).  This is a rough-and-tumble blanket, made from a sturdy knit stitch with a fun little border.  It’s cotton, easily washable and it holds up to wear and tear.  This is the blanket for taking outside (grass stains will blend in!) and throwing into the car.  Krista, working with kids, knows the type of blanket needed for an active child, which is what I’m sure Little Turtle will be!

The last one is from my high-school friend Jess, who is also expecting a baby.  Her knit ripple blanket seems like the end of a perfect quintet – this is a blanket meant for snuggling under on cold winter day, the ripples and texture providing extra warmth.  Almost the same size as the blanket from my knitting group, it’s knitted in a worsted yarn, so is a little thicker and sturdier – the difference between spring and true winter.  I love the vibrant purples!

 

KAL: Starting Rosemary & Bay

Have you joined the KAL yet?  This month I’m running a KAL for Rosemary & Bay, one of my favorite self-published patterns.  I’ve extended the deadline to use a coupon to get Rosemary & Bay: enter “littleturtle” before the 12th, and get 40% off!

Rosemary and Bay

Rosemary and Bay

Let me tell you why I love this pattern.  Last week I cast on for the neckline, and it was just sailing by.  I loved watching the changes in colors, I loved seeing how the garter stitch was working up, and I was anticipating the divide for the armholes.  I love that this pattern has no seaming, so the work just sails by.  Which means, if you can’t tell by the picture, I’m in a bit of a pickle… I just kept going.

 

I have to admit I’ve went a bit beyond the neckline, which was my goal for this week.  If you’re just joining us, let’s set a goal of picking out yarn and getting the neckline done this week.  Don’t be afraid to stash dive… how neat would this baby look in rainbow colors?  Or even more than the two I’m using here?

Later this week I’ll have a tutorial about joining the neck, since if you haven’t done this particular pattern before, that can bit a bit tricky.

But let me tell you a bit more about this knit.  It’s sized for newborn to two years old (and frankly, if you want to push it to 3 years, grab an Aran weight yarn and go up a needle size or two).  Rosemary & Bay is well suited to a single color of yarn, but also looks so darn cute in multiple colors.  (I’m planning to add shamrocks to mine – just you wait and see).  It’s great in wool or cotton, and the garter stitch keeps most of the pattern from having too much purling.

Don’t believe me?  Vmay71, on Ravelry, says this about the pattern: “She got me started on Tuesday and done by Saturday. A clear pattern that knits up quickly. What more could you ask for? ”

So come join me!  We’re going to have a bunch of fun!

And pickup the pattern here to get 40% off!  You don’t even need a Ravelry account!