Doodle’s Afghan, Completed

Doodle's Afghan

And about time, too!

Doodle's Afghan

My sewing machine actually broke during the final stages of putting this together.  I found the one sewing machine repair guy in the whole city and took it in to get it fixed post-haste. It was a good thing I did, as the repair guy went on a two-month vacation the day after I picked it up.  Phew!

Doodle's Afghan

After I had everything in nice discrete blocks I had to start sewing them together, which meant that I started to get things with weird corners and strange protuberances — more of a challenge to sew, but I got it done.

Doodle's Afghan

It’s amazing how much smaller the finished top is when you take seam allowances into account.  This used to be the exact size of the box spring and now it’s shrunk significantly.  but it’s nice and thick and cozy.

Doodle's Afghan

The Pie and I decided that two sides of wool pieces would be a little bulky for this blanket, and that all the seams would mean the blanket wouldn’t lie flat.  Not to mention that it would probably be itchy against your skin.  So we went with just a cotton backing, just like we did with the wool patchwork quilts a few years ago, but without the flannel lining.  Because the blanket is large, we decided to do the back in three separate panels of different colours, just for visual interest.  The Pie did the colour picking. It’s definitely funny to watch us wander through fabric stores because we are both so out of our element.

Doodle's Afghan

Doodle's Afghan

Now you see this particular square, with its row of buttons?  Not only does that add a bit of visual interest, but it’s a strategic choice.  I can undo those buttons and then pull the blanket inside-out through it and do them back up.  That way when I sew the lining and backing onto the top piece I can just do all the sides at the same time, and not worry about seams showing later on.  I know.  You can say it.  I am a bit of a genius.

Doodle's Afghan

So I sewed the back onto the front, which took quite a bit of effort and some muscle, too.

Doodle's Afghan

Then I opened up that little buttoned up section and carefully pulled the whole thing through.

Doodle's Afghan

Button it back up and no one’s the wiser.

Doodle's Afghan

Phew. That is one hefty blanket.

Doodle's Afghan

I can’t wait to see if it will fit in my luggage, together with my bridesmaid dress and a million pairs of shoes. Because that’s all I’m bringing to Oregon.  I can’t see anything else fitting in my suitcase.

Doodle's Afghan

Doodle’s Afghan, Stage 3

Doodle's Afghan

Doodle’s wedding is coming up in just a few weeks (almost exactly a month from the date on which I am actually writing this post), so it’s crunch time in terms of getting her and the Cyclist’s afghan put together and sent off in the mail (I am not hefting a giant blanket all the way to Portland in my luggage).

Doodle's Afghan

We have our old box spring set up in my office, and, when our new mattress arrives (hopefully any day now), we will be adding the mattress on top and our guest room will be ready to go.  For now, however, it serves as a handy surface to work on that is safe from corgi incursions.  So here are all the piles of cut-out squares and rectangles, all in the basic order in which I want them to be.  The piece in the middle is my “keystone”, and has many of the colours of the rest of the blanket in one small square.

Doodle's Afghan

So we started at the keystone, laying things out so they spread from the middle out towards the edges.

Doodle's Afghan

Doodle's Afghan

The Pie did most of this layout on his own, because he’s better at Tetris than I am and his arms are longer.

Doodle's Afghan

Although the corgi did help a bit.  By keeping our pieces of wool warm until we needed them. Honestly, no matter how small a piece of fabric is, be it a sock or a giant duvet, this dog will find it and lie on it.

Doodle's Afghan

And here it is in all its glory, almost exactly the size of the bed itself.  It will of course be significantly smaller once we take the seam allowances into account.

Doodle's Afghan

So now all that remains is to sew it all together, which is what I’m working on now.

Doodle's Afghan

I’ve been removing the sections of it that form discrete blocks on their own — that is, in these sections there are no pieces sticking out, and they form their own squares or rectangles when put together.

Doodle's Afghan

I figure it will make it easier to sew the larger blocks to each other when it’s ready to go.

Doodle's Afghan

I used a zigzag stitch on the machine, just to ensure that if there were any gaps in the wool the thread would still catch on somewhere.

Doodle's Afghan

So that’s the back of one block.

Doodle's Afghan

And the front.

Doodle's Afghan

And then that block can be sewn to another block.

Doodle's Afghan

Like so.

Doodle's Afghan

And so on, and so forth.  The sewing is actually coming along really quickly, despite the challenges of sewing different thicknesses of fabric together.  I started yesterday (which is the 13th for me), and I’m over half done just sewing different blocks together.  I’m starting to run out of discrete oblongs and I’m going to have to venture into the more complex polygons at some point shortly.  Then it will be a simple matter of putting them all together.

Doodle's Afghan

I have plenty of pieces left over from the original cutting-out of shapes, and because this sewing is going so well, I think I will end up making the backing out of a random assortment of the same.  Stay tuned!

Progress Report on the Summer of Blankets

As you may know, the Pie and I are hitting up two weddings this summer.  In June, Doodle marries the Cyclist, and in July, my big brother Krystopf weds the indomitable Atlas.  Both are getting home-made blankets from yours truly as a wedding gift.

Progress Report

The Atlas blanket is coming along well, though it never ceases to amaze me how many times I can screw up a simple knit/purl design.  As much as I try, I doubt I will ever be a practised knitter, though I am getting better at going back and fixing my mistakes.  And fortunately this is something that I can bring with me when I’m traveling, and something I can do while I’m watching television at night.

Progress Report

With these two strips you can start to see the sort of “patchwork” effect that I was going for, with the alternating colours and alternating knit and purled sides.

Progress Report

The place where I bought this gorgeous wool, A Good Yarn, has closed the doors of its physical business and the owner has moved to Halifax to focus on the internet side of the show, so I had to order the next batch of skeins online.  Fortunately, Tanis Fiber Arts has a really comprehensive website and such beautiful colours.  The new skeins I ordered just came in yesterday.

Progress Report

In biodegradable packaging, no less!

Progress Report

If you are curious, this is the Yellow Label DK Weight, which is good for pretty much anything, and the colours I have used are Plum, Olive, Deep Sea, and Midnight, from left to right.  If I knew how to use them properly and/or could afford them, I would buy the whole stock.

Progress Report

Doodle’s afghan is also progressing.  That huge box of seamless sweaters has been reduced now to a blue recycling bag full of carefully cut out oblongs, and a green garbage bag full of scraps of wool.  I don’t know if I will be able to find a use for all the scraps, but I will try.  If you have any suggestions let me know.  I also have a small pile of cardboard cutting templates I need to find a place for.

Progress Report

I have learned that when cutting felted wool with a rotary cutter you end up with a tremendous amount of static-charged wool lint.  Which ends up everywhere.  And doesn’t go away.  I also learned that you can loosen the blade on your rotary cutter so it rolls more easily and you don’t have to press as hard.  Of course I didn’t discover that until near the end.

Progress Report

I may go in a slightly different direction with the afghan, now that it’s all cut out.  I will still do the colour progression on the “right” side as originally planned, but, depending on the number of oblongs I have, I might just randomly sew the rest of them together and have that go underneath, as a sort of double blanket, rather than sewing the wool blanket to a fabric backing.  We shall see.  As well, given the scale of this thing, I think it might be a better idea to sew the whole thing by machine instead of using the by-hand blanket stitch, which, while very secure, takes for-freaking-ever.  The question will be if my machine can handle it, as some of the wool is super thick.  I will keep you posted.

Progress Report

The Atlas Blanket

Happy Leap Day!

The Atlas Blanket

As I said last week, I’m working on two blankets for two weddings this summer.  This one is for my eldest brother Krystopf and Atlas, his wife-to-be.  Depending on how you look at it, it’s going to be both easier and more of a challenge than the one I’m making for Doodle.  Easier, because it just involves knitting, and more of a challenge because I really hate/suck at knitting.

But there you go.

I bought these beautiful hand-dyed, Canadian-made wools at A Good Yarn downtown.  I had jewel tones in mind for this blanket (Atlas likes purple and blue), and Tanis Fiber Arts had exactly what I was looking for.  They’re just gorgeous, and totally worth the price.

The Atlas Blanket

Now, those are skeins, which means that I had to wind them all into balls before I could start knitting.  There is an art to winding wool by hand, but I haven’t yet perfected it.  Mostly I swear a lot as I constantly drop my misshapen ball-in-progress and it goes skittering off across the floor.  Anyway, these ones aren’t bad.

The Atlas Blanket

When you’re knitting with balls of wool, it helps to put the ball in a bowl while you knit.  This keeps it in one place, and not rolling all over the place and getting tangled.  You can even get special bowls designed for knitting, but I haven’t yet reached the apex of ability that means I deserve such a thing.

The Atlas Blanket

I know my limitations when it comes to knitting, so I’m keeping this as simple as possible, and hoping that the simplicity ends up equalling elegance when I’m through.  So I’ve got four colours, and I’m just doing two columns of alternating colours.  This one is green and turquoise, and the other one will be purple and navy.  Then I will stitch the columns together to form the blanket. (FYI, those panels are each 30 stitches long and about 36 rows tall.)

The Atlas Blanket

And I will offset my knit sides and purled sides so that it forms a patchwork when I’m done.

The Atlas Blanket

I will of course need to figure out something to do around the edges.  I’m open to easy suggestions (please no i-cord or anything like that).

The Atlas Blanket
But that’s what I got so far!

Baby Boy Blue Blanket

Here is yet another project courtesy of the felted wool sweater.  It’s a present for the newest addition to Kª and Kº’s family.  We shall have to see what young Il Principe thinks of this.  Being an only child is pretty sweet.

Il Principe, in the flesh.

Here I took four sweaters, two gray, one navy, and one black.  These sweaters were of the softer, thinner natural fabrics, such as cashmere and merino.  They felt a bit differently than regular sheep’s wool, with less fuzz.  I cut those suckers up into tons of 3″ squares.

Then I laid them out into a pattern and, like in our other wool patchwork quilt, started sewing them together in long strips.

Because of the nature of the wool I had to do it all by hand, with a needle and thread, using the blanket stitch.

Then I sewed the strips together. 

It looks rather nice, don’t you think?

This is the back of it.  It’s kind of cool, too, but it will be hidden from view.This is the soft cotton I am going to use as the backing.  The blue and the gray match perfectly with the colours of the wool.

Then with great care I pinned the top to the backing.  

The backing is a grid pattern so I was careful to line things up properly. 

I folded over the edges of the cotton to guard against fraying.

Then, with great difficulty owing to the stretchiness of the wool, I machine-basted the two pieces together.  Next time I would probably do this by hand, just because of the way the wool bunched and stretched.

To bind it, I used blanket binding, which I folded in on itself to make smaller.  Shockingly, I had to actually PURCHASE the blanket binding from Fabricland.

It was a simple matter to fold it towards its own centre …

… and then iron a new crease.

My mother was kind enough to sew the binding onto the blanket for me, in exchange for my making of kumquat marmalade.  She has more patience for such things.

The corners are a bit tricky.  You can see here how Mum pins flush across the corner.

Then folds the fabric over the pin as a guide.

Then pins it in place before sewing it down.

Its pretty slick.

You can see at the end she just folded it under itself again before sewing it down.

Embellishments are always important when it comes to babies, but you have to be careful.  No buttons, or anything that babies can eat.  Colourful yarn is a good option.  I thought the orange would look great next to the gray and blue.

The yarn here also serves to anchor the top of the quilt to the bottom so it doesn’t shift around.

I threaded a tapestry needle with the yarn.

Poked it through and back out again.

Here it is back through.

And tied a double knot.

This is what it looks like on the back.

I did that at random points all through.

Here is the finished product.

All ready to be gifted away!

Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Here’s a great gift idea for avid picnic-ers that you know.  This was a Christmas gift for Doodle and her man.

I found a brand-new Scouts Canada campfire blanket at Value Village in the fall, and I immediately thought of Doodle, who, although she has lived in the United States for several years now, is a staunch Canadian, and, like my brother Ando, who is also an ex-pat Canuck, likes to surround herself with various items of Canadiana.

Normally the little Scouts cut holes in the centres of the blankets to wear them like ponchos, and often sew badges and other things onto the blanket itself. Then they sit around the campfire and tell dirty stories.

I’m not sure exactly what the blanket is made of, but I hope it’s flame-retardant.

Anyway, I purchased a measure of bright red vinyl to match the red thread on the blanket itself, and cut it to fit.  Because the blanket wasn’t an exact rectangle, I made a little mark on the vinyl to indicate where the Scouts Canada logo should go.

I used pinking shears to finish the edges of the vinyl.  Then I cut buttonholes at all the corners and along the sides.  I reinforced the buttonholes with red thread in a blanket stitch.

I then sewed on all the buttons, making sure that none of them matched each other.  I saved the big silver button to go under the Scouts Canada patch.

And there you have it, a simple picnic blanket.  Just unbutton it to wash it and you’re set!