Sunday, October 31, 2010

Beanie on the USM!

This past July, for my birthday, my Mum gave me money to finally buy a garter bar for my Ultimate Sweater Machine. Now, in case you're wondering, I don't actually make sweaters with my USM. Okay, so I have made a couple of tiny baby sweaters, but never an adult-sized one. I usually make hats and scarves, lots of hats and scarves!

You see, I really love, love, love, to buy yarn! (And fabric, but that's a different post!). So, basically, I have piles and boxes, and bags of yarn in my basement (not to worry, my basement is very dry and the yarn is quite safe there), that is just begging to be made into something.

I also love making things to give away. I often make things for the local food bank. They have a bin where they put the donated hats, scarves, mittens, and slippers, and the children can pick something from the bin when they visit. This thought makes me happy, that children are wearing the things I make.

So, to make a long story short, my USM helps me make lots of things faster. Do I know how to knit and crochet? YES! And I love making things by hand, too. But sometimes I just want to make a bunch of things quickly with all that yarn I have laying around. At times like that, I turn to my trusty USM. And now, I have the garter bar my Mum so nicely paid for, because she knew I really wanted it and would not likely buy it for myself. I'm embarassed to say that it has taken me months to take the garter bar out of the tube it came in and use it!

The above photo shows a few things. At the top, the top rows of a hat hang off the needles. The top row is my decrease row for the gathering at the top. After that come the 35 or so rows of straight knitting which go very quickly! The bottom 6 rows were done with the garter bar. The garter bar allows me to remove the knitting from the needles, turn it around, put it all back on the needles, and knit a purl row. If you do this a few times (or 6, like I've done), it makes a nice edge that won't curl, as just straight knitting would do.

This photo (above) shows the process to remove the knitting from the black plastic hem that holds the weights at the bottom of the knitting. I could start with a different type of cast-on that would allow me to remove the knitting without having to stitch by hand, but I don't like doing it that way.

And, finally, the finished beanie. I love how the top looks and this style looks perfectly sweet on little heads! Next, I will experiment with how to use the garter bar to do decreases that will allow the hat to lie flat against the head, and not be gathered like this.

This is the back seam of the hat - and my huge error! I was too busy learning to use the garter bar to notice that I had skipped 4 stitches at the beginning of a row. Oh well, the hat will still be warm, even with the mistake.

This project is also great for using up scraps from other projects - you can make great stripey patterns! I know I'm weird for thinking this, but I really can't wait for the snow, when I will find more time to hole up in my sewing room and make sure the USM gets used lots more!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Super Serger Cushions!

A few weeks ago, while browsing around my local quilt shop, I came across a brochure for a serger that was for sale. Well, I already have a serger but the brochure looked kind of cute so I peeked inside and found the sweetest little cushions!! They are super quick as they are made entirely with the serger.

I asked if I could take the brochure so I could make my own version of the cushions and the owner of the quilt shop asked if I would make her some samples. Of course, I didn't mind (it's not like I don't have the fabric!) and so these are my two, very different, samples:

These are so fun to make, I think I'll make lots more to scatter around, maybe even change them seasonally. I'm thinking my scrap pile of random squares is about to get a little smaller!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

To Quilt or Not to Quilt

Today, I took some of my favourite fabrics out of the fabric cupboards and pieced them together, whether they matched or not, and got this:

A runner that I am in love with!!! It looks fantastic on the long table in my centre hall and makes me smile every time I pass it. I may even feel motivated to dust the table every once in awhile to make the runner look better :)
The question is: Should I make it a quilted runner or should I just back the way it is? I'm thinking I may just back it so that it lays really flat. I have a few photo frames on it as well as my Baby Brother sewing machine (my Mum used to sew on it when she was a little girl), and my 1906 Singer sewing machine. So, really, I think it will be better if it lays flat, so the frames will stay standing up.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who Knew Litter Could Be So Cute?

I know, I promised to post this last week but I've been having trouble with my camera and so I am finally showing it to you now! I went on a little "small project" binge last week. You already saw the sweet beanie helper and now I present: The Car Litter Bag :)

I found this little guy in a book called "One Yard Wonders", the premise being that all the projects in the book can be made with one yard of fabric. Since I'm a quilter, and often buy fabric in 1/2 metre to 1 metre cuts, this book is perfect for me.
Truly, I have to give a big thank you to my friend, Shana, who was sent this book by accident after joining a book club. The lovely people at the book club told her to keep it and she gave it me!! I can always use another craft book ;)
Now that I have the "small project" bug out of my system for the time being, I am feeling like working on my larger projects again. It's true: Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.