Friday, June 28, 2013

Differences Between Plant & Animal Fibers and Questions For You!

As I ponder which fiber to write about next and how not to repeat information that has been repeated a thousand times in a thousand other blogs and articles, I'm wondering: What do you want to know? What is useful to you?  What is interesting to you? Which fiber would you like me to discuss next?  I'm very interested in making my posts about what YOU want!

I started with the plant based fibers because, in my perception, knitters in general tend to have the least experience with and knowledge about them.  Crocheters tend to understand a bit more about how cotton works since most crochet threads are made of cotton.  Sewists are usually very familiar with plant fibers since most commonly available fabrics and the easiest to learn with are cotton or cotton blends.

Protein fibers seem to be what knitters are most familiar with, since most yarns that have been available over the centuries for knitting have been some type of sheep's wool. Where sheep were not native or traditionally raised, other fur bearing animal fibers have been used instead.  Many of these lesser known fibers have been making their way into the yarn shops over the past couple of decades.  Today we have quite the selection of protein fibers available to us: wools from many different breeds of sheep, alpaca, llama, yak, mohair, angora, cashmere, bison, qiviut, possum, mink, dog, cat, camel, guanaco, vacuna, and of course silk! And, I'm sure there are some I missed!  So you see my dilemma?  What do I start with and how in depth should I go? I would love to hear from you!  Tell me your interests, questions, "I've always wondered....?"

The various protein fibers have a few things in common.  First let me say that when I say 'protein fibers' in this context, I mean naturally occurring fibers from animal sources.  I mention this because there are also man-made protein fibers sourced from food production wastes like soy and milk.  These fibers are made in a similar fashion as rayon and have properties that are more rayon-like than natural animal fibers.

As I mentioned in last weeks post 'Blooming Plant Fibers' Friday June 21st, animal based fibers, except for silk, all have scales.  These microscopic, overlapping scales help the fibers hang together, give the fibers some elasticity, and they allow air space within each fiber strand which helps to hold in warmth.  Just the thing an animal that lives in a cold climate needs to stay toasty warm!  And why humans learned to use these fibers to also stay warm.  Each fiber has different sized scales-- smaller scales refract the light and gives the fiber softer sheen, larger scales allow a more brilliant sheen.  So the finest merino wool has a soft, almost matte like sheen and adult mohair has an awesome shiny luster and takes dye vibrantly.

The other thing that most animal fibers (except silk) have is 'crimp'.  Crimp refers to the natural wave the fibers have.  In general, and especially with sheep's wool, the finer the diameter of a strand of fiber, the more crimps per inch it also has.  So, the finest merino wools have many crimps per inch and the coarsest have the fewest, like adult mohair.  More crimps give more springy-ness and elasticity to a yarn (of course how the yarn is constructed also contributes, more about that in a future post), fewer crimps give more drape and less stretch.

Another area that protein fibers differ from plant fibers is the pH range that is damaging to the fibers.  Plant fibers are generally tolerant of alkaline conditions, this is why we can use common household bleach on cottons and linens without a severe amount of damage, but they do not tolerate acids as well. Protein fibers tolerate acids much better but are damaged by alkali.  Household bleach is alkaline.  For those of you wondering, this is why it's very difficult to find bright white wool for that wedding shawl you want to make.  Again silk is the exception to these generalities.  The pH tolerance of fibers is important to know when dying fibers, as there are different types of dyes used on the different types of fibers.  In general you use what is called a fiber reactive dye, alkali (soda ash) and a cold process on plant fibers.  On animal fibers you use an acid dye, vinegar, and a heating process. Silk can be dyed with either type of dye.  Then there is a third type of dye called a Union dye that also works on both types of fibers but does do slight damage to animal fibers.  The Union dye that you will most likely be familiar with is Rite Dye.

Next I'll be discussing whichever fiber you help me choose so let me hear from you!  Either leave a comment or email me at askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.

Terry


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting Ready for the Royal Baby Quilt SAL!

Hi everyone!

The Royal Baby Quilt Sew-A-Long (SAL) is almost here and we are getting excited! We hope you are too! Gus finished writing up the design and we are putting the finishing touches on the diagrams and everything for you. It's going to be a blast. This is the first Sew-A-Long we've ever hosted and we are hoping to knock your socks off!



Here are some things that you'll need to know before you get started next week. We've put the info together FAQ style, so here goes!

1) How will the SAL work?

Each Wednesday starting July 3rd, right here on the Jimmy Beans Wool Blog we will post directions for a square. There are four different types of squares used in this project and each week for 4 weeks you will get a new set of instructions. You will be making 4 squares each week. They are pretty simple, beginner level squares, so doing 4 per week should be just fine. The last couple of weeks will cover piecing together, quilting and binding your quilt.

2) What fabric do I use for the quilt?

Well, you are in luck! We've put together Royal Baby quilt kits which use gorgeous Kaffe Fassett's Shot Cottons with all of the pre-cut pieces of fabric you need to make your quilt including the backing, binding, and applique fabrics. The only thing you'll need to get other than the kit is your thread and batting. Easy peasy!

3) What if I want to use my own fabric?

Each week, the instructions will include the measurements you need for each square so you can use those instructions to create the squares out of your own fabrics if you prefer. The kits are all pre-cut to simplify things, but if you are a bit more experienced with quilting, using your own fabric should be a breeze.

4) Will the instructions be written?

Yes, the instructions are written and accompanied by pictures and diagrams. We will also be providing a PDF of the instructions to make each version easily printable (assuming blogger cooperates with us.) We will be available here for questions via the comments portion of the blog and also by e-mail to help with anything you need.

5) How long will the SAL last for?

The SAL will last for 6 weeks. The first 4 weeks are the quilt square instruction and the last two weeks will cover piecing, quilting, and finishing. If the pace is too quick for you, that's fine! No rush to finish in that time frame. You are more than welcome to work at your own pace and just refer back to our posts as needed. We will still be available via e-mail  or phone if you have questions.

6) What if I get really far behind and can't find the posts on the blog anymore?

Sure, it can be hard to navigate the blog once a post is no longer on the main page. We will using the tag "Royal Baby SAL" in all of the posts, so if you search the blog for posts, all of the SAL posts will come right up for you. Also, once the SAL wraps up we will be adding the quilt pattern and all instructions to the Jimmy Beans Wool Free Patterns page. You can have access to the pattern forever once it's added which should be by the end of August.

7) What items do I need at home to successfully sew my quilt?

You will need a sewing machine (and know how to use it), an iron and ironing board, scissors, a rotary cutter and board (not essential but VERY useful), thread, and batting for your quilt. Also, any other tools that you like to have on hand. The above items are just the basics.

Of course, if you have any questions that we missed in here, please either leave a comment on this blog post, or send us an e-mail at fabric (at) jimmybeanswool.com.

We look forward to getting started next Wednesday, July 3rd with our first quilt square!

Happy sewing!
Kristen


Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Ready for Some Royal Baby Knitting and Crocheting!

Hi everyone!

We are one week away from the start of our Royal Baby Blanket KAL/CAL and Heather and I are getting excited! We've been working away like crazy on the squares, and are really excited to reveal the first ones to you next week!





I thought I would use this week's blog post to give you some preparatory info and general FAQ's about the KAL/CAL in case you missed it on Ravelry. If you are just joining us, make sure to read through this post for all of the info so that you are prepared for next week! Also, it's not too late to join! Just in time to order your yarn so you'll receive it by next Monday (assuming you are in the US.) So welcome everyone to the Royal Baby KAL/CAL. Here are the FAQ's I've been getting on the Ravelry group:


1) How do I "join" the KAL/CAL?


There is no official "sign up" with our KAL/CAL's. We keep it pretty informal around here. We don't clog up your inbox with excessive e-mails or require you sign anything to say your are in. If you are knitting with us, you are in. Feel free to create a "project" on Ravelry and link it to the Royal Baby Blanket KAL pattern page. This will make it easy to share your progress updates with other in the JBW group. Feel free to save the yarn photo we've posted for the picture and use that for your "pre KAL/CAL" project photo. Be sure at least read through the KAL/CAL threads on the JBW Ravelry group. This is the community we use for the KAL/CAL and will help you feel like you are actively participating with the group, even if you don't chime in.


2) Do I have to use the Royal Baby yarn?


No, purchasing the Royal Baby yarn is not required for this project. However, now is the time to decide on the yarn you will use so that you can order it in time if needed. Whether or not you are using the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Royal Baby yarn, you'll still need a worsted weight for this project and about 1,350 yards just for the squares. That equals 6 skeins of the Lorna's Laces or 7 skeins if you'd like to add a border. That part is optional.


3) What is the gauge for this project?


The gauge for this project may vary from square to square, but the gauge we are aiming for to start is as follows:


-Knitted gauge: 20 sts = 4" in stockinette stitch on US 7 needles.


-Crocheted gauge is 16 sts = 4" in half-double crochet on a US H-8 crochet hook.


You'll want to count on using the gauge swatch yarn for the blanket so don't bother with blocking your swatch too much. Just make sure to have some other sizes of hooks and needles on hand in case your gauge varies with each different stitch type. I would say as long as you have a size smaller and a size larger, you should be fine. The gauge for each swatch will be provided with each week's directions.


4) When and where will the instructions be posted each week?


The instructions for both the knit and crochet squares will be posted each Monday morning, between 6am-8am PST, starting July 1st (that's next week!) right here on the Jimmy Beans Wool Blog.


5) How will I know what the square is supposed to look like when I'm done knitting/crocheting it?


This KAL/CAL is not set up as a complete mystery KAL/CAL like most where you have no idea what you are making. We will post a picture of each square with the directions for each one so that you can see what that set of directions are supposed to look when you are finished. I think this will help to quell any confusion that often comes with Mystery KALs and CALs.


6) Do I have to be able to knit AND Crochet to participate?


No, if you prefer to knit the whole thing or crochet the whole thing, that is totally fine. Each week we will release one crochet square and one knit square pattern. If you prefer one craft over the other, simply make two of the square of your choice. You'll still have the 12 squares needed in the end to make your blanket.


7) How can I get help with my project if I have questions?


If you haven't already, be sure to join the Jimmy Beans Wool Ravelry Group. In the group, there will be a new thread for each clue where you can ask questions. If you are too shy to post in the group or are worried your question will be missed, you can e-mail Heather and I directly depending on which square you are referring to. For knitting square questions, e-mail Kristen (at) jimmybeanswool.com and for crochet square questions, e-mail Heather (at) jimmybeanswool.com. Be sure to remove the "(at)" and put in the @ symbol. I change it for blog posts to keep spambots away. :)


You can also send a private message to JimmyBeansWool on Ravelry and the correct person will answer you, or leave a comment on the blog post itself. Either way, we are available to answer any and all questions. If your question comes to us over the weekend, you'll receive a response the following Monday since Heather and I both work Mon-Fri during JBW's business hours.


Even if you don't plan on commenting on Ravelry, I encourage all of you to at least read through the posts in the JBW Group on Ravelry before asking your questions as a lot of people do post the same questions and often the answer is already on there. If you aren't a member of Ravelry--it's free to join and even if you only use it for this KAL, it's worth it. It's definitely not required though, so no pressure. :)


8) If I plan on doing a contrasting border with my Royal Baby Yarn, what colors should I pick and how much extra yarn do I need?


This is entirely up to you depending on what yarn you choose. If you are knitting with the Royal Baby colors, here is a key of all of the colors in the two Royal Baby yarns:



Sugar and Spice: Dusk, Dobson, Fjord, and Mirth.

Snips and Snails: Chino, Dobson, Douglas Fir, and Pewter.

If you are using both colors, I would recommend either Dobson or Pewter to tie it altogether. One extra skein (beyond the 6 skeins needed for the squares) should be enough for a border.

*Please note: adding a border is completely optional and is not officially part of the KAL. Heather and I may provide some guidance and suggestions for a border for those who have decided to add one, but we've not included it as part of the pattern. I've simply provided this information for those who approached me with questions about complementary colors wanting to add a border on their own. I hope this helps, please feel free to send any questions for clarification my way.


So, I think I've covered most of the questions I've been getting about the KAL/CAL. If I missed something or this sparks more questions for you, feel free to e-mail us at the addresses specified above, leave a comment on this post, or in the Ravelry group on the Royal Baby KAL/CAL Announcement Thread. Either way, Heather and I look forward to knitting and crocheting with you all starting next Monday!

Hope you all have a great week!
Kristen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blooming Plant Fiber!

I started my Fiber Feature series by talking about the plant based fibers since we're moving into the warmer months of the year and fewer people are familiar with these yarns.  Now that I've covered the most common plant based fibers and briefly discussed synthetic fibers I will be moving on to the various protein fibers.  But before I do, I want to talk a little about working with plant based fibers.

Cellulose based fibers (and many synthetics) all have a fundamental structural difference from protein based fibers that can be disconcerting to many knitters the first time they work with them.  The surfaces of plant fibers are smooth, unlike animal fibers that have scales. The microscopic scales of animal fibers help the fibers hang together better, give the fibers elasticity, plus they allow air space within the fiber which helps to hold in warmth. Without scales the fibers move past each other easily, making the yarn slippery and the fibers are more densely packed together, not allowing air and therefore heat to be trapped.  These factors give plant fibers their wonderful drape and coolness next to the skin.

Without scales that contribute to protein fiber's elasticity, plant fibers have less elasticity, as a result they are less forgiving of irregularities in tension.  This has caused all kinds of frustration for knitters and I've seen some even give up before they've finished a project because they don't like how their project looks.  Please don't do that!  Here's the thing, once you've finished your project and wash it, a wonderful thing happens!  Blooming!!!

During the process of making yarns various treatments are used to make the spinning process more efficient and consistent.  These treatments cause the plant fibers to pack together more densely and smooth out what little elasticity the fibers have.  We use similar treatments when we iron like sizing and starch.  Once you wash the fiber it "blooms" or plumps up in diameter and does shorten some in length.  Blooming smooths out minor irregularities in knitting tension, softens the fibers, and changes the gauge.  I always strongly encourage anyone I'm helping to always wash or at least thoroughly steam their gauge swatch, particularly when working with plant fibers.  Then they will know what to expect and not knit the wrong gauge thinking the yarn is thinner that it really is.  Trust me!  With most cellulose based yarns washing will make a huge difference in how your garment looks, usually for the better.

So don't get frustrated, just have patience.  If you really want to see how your project will look wash that swatch in the same manner you will be washing the finished item. Sewers have known this for decades, when working with cottons always wash them before you start (unless you want the effect of shrinking).  Somehow this hasn't translated to knitters, after all we are making fabric!

I hope you find this useful!  Please don't hesitate to ask questions or send suggestion to me at askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com

Terry


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sew Original Quilt & Creative Expo

We are going to the Sew Original Quilt & Creative Expo tomorrow!! We have been invited for a second year to this very, very fun event at the Grand Sierra Resort here in Reno and hope you will stop by our Stitch Red booth and say hi!!






We will have the Sew Red trunk show with us and some other fun Stitch Red goodies as well!! We will have the Piece of My Heart Pincushion kit, as well as some Knit Red books for those of you who knit as well as quilt!


The pieces from the book are worth the trip alone, but we will (Jeanne and Gus) will be there and can't wait to meet you all!!






Sew, I am off to get things together (hence the short and sweet post.) I hope to see you tomorrow!!

As always, happy knitting, crocheting, and sewing!!

Jeanne



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finding Inspiration for Summer Projects and Beyond! (And last week's giveaway winner.)

Lately I've been seeing inspiration everywhere, especially out in our warehouse full of yarny goodness. But without patterns to inspire us, that yarn would sit untouched indefinitely and we certainly can't have that! Here is what has been inspiring me lately in the way of patterns (all from Ravelry with links provided below), and some yarn suggestions to accompany them:

1) With so many babies being born (all of my friends seem to be at that time of their lives) little fun baby and kid items are on my mind. I love this stack-able Army of Caterpillars from Fancy Tiger Crafts (an adorable LYS in Denver--if you live there, you should check them out!) and could see them knit out of Cascade 220 Superwash for washable durability. So cute!

Army of Caterpillars from Fancy Tiger Crafts
2) Bold stripes are super fun, but scalloped bold stripes are even better! I am a fan of Amy Miller's designs and I could see myself wearing Betsey, a lovely cold-weather wrap, knit in Tosh Merino or Tosh Pashmina Worsted this next winter. It's so bright and fun!

Betsey by Amy Miller

3) Shawls always tend to inspire me, so when I saw this unique take on bias knitting, I had to include it in this list. Freesia, by Annie Lee Designs (also known as Jumper Cables Knitting) is a simple design with a little unique twist for some added interest. This is just the kind of shawl knitting I love--mindless, but not too mindless. This design would be amazing in one of the stunning colors of Wolf Creek Wools Alpaca Sport (one of my favorite yarns!) or Lorna's Laces Sportmate (another favorite.)

Freesia by JumperCablesKnitting
4) Geology and knitting? What more could a science geek ask for?!?! I am a self proclaimed science nerd and I loved geological sciences in college. Later in life I found myself teaching the basic earth science principals to kids in an outdoor school setting and I rekindled my love for geology. I love how this shawl is inspired by the different layers of strata and has a variety of patterning in each section keeping it interesting to knit the whole way. What a lovely design! I would (admittedly) probably go with my old standby, Tosh Merino Light, to knit this shawl, but I am intrigued by some newer yarns we have in stock, particularly All For Love of Yarn's Opulence and Manos del Uruguay's Fino.

Geology Shawl by verybusymonkey

5) Lewis by Jaime A Besel, is a gorgeous summer piece with a bohemian feel. It's a summer to fall sweater that can be layered over tanks on cool summer evenings or worn all day long as the days grow a little cooler. The bamboo and wool blend yarn (the original pattern calls for Arucania Itata which is now discontinued) gives the garment a nice structured drape. I really love the shirttail hem. If I were to cast on, I would use either Classic Elite Vail, Frog Tree Pediboo, or Cascade Heritage Silk.

Lewis by Jaime A Besel
6) Lastly, I know it's too early to start thinking about winter knits, by I saw this finished sweater on Lori from Yarn Pop at VK Live in Seattle and I've been thinking about it ever since. This cozy sweater by Heidi Kirrmaier is knit in a DK weight tweed--warm enough to wear as an extra layer on a cold day, but not too warm to wear inside all day long. I may have to cast on this fall for some selfish knitting--perhaps in Rowan Felted Tweed or Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool... or if you live in warmer climes, you could easily get away with knitting this sweater in a cotton blend like Classic Elite Canyon or Rowan Creative Linen which would add a little more lightness and drape.

Snowbird by Heidi Kirrmaier

Lastly, I'm sorry this is a day late, I've been having blogger technical difficulties, but we need to announce the Kristin Omdahl The Finer Edge giveaway winner! The winner is:

Commenter #18: Carol said...

"I would most likely start with Pompeii Mobius."

Carol, please e-mail me at kristen (at) jimmybeanswool.com to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and thanks to Interweave Press for preview copy of the book!

I hope you all have a fabulous week!
Kristen

PS. Have you ever wanted to work in the needle arts industry or for Jimmy Beans Wool? We have a current job opening for a Project Manager position! It's full time and located on-site here in Reno, NV. To read more and find out how to apply, check out our Ravelry group listing here:

http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/jimmy-beans-wool/2608203/1-25#5

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fiber Feature - Synthetics

 

When most experienced knitters hear the word "synthetic", the first thought is harsh, squeaky, cheap yarn. The very thought of synthetic yarn often elicits a crinkled up nose, a cringe and possibly a shudder!

Not so fast!!!

Yes, many of us are a bit snobbish about synthetic, but really we shouldn't be: they do have their appropriate uses and there are some really pretty and very soft choices!

There are four main categories of synthetic yarns: nylon, acrylic, spandex, and polyester.  I have learned quite a bit in just researching for this blog post.  As I mentioned last time I love science stuff and synthetics are incredibly diverse and made from many different chemicals.  I've learned that all synthetic and man-made yarns are made of polymers.

What is a polymer, you ask?

Let us again return to high school science! Remember that molecules are groups of atoms that have unique properties. For instance, a water molecule is two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. You may also remember that there are different kinds of bonds that molecules can form and one type is a chemical bond. Molecules that can form chemical bonds are called monomers.  Long chains of monomers chemically bonded together are polymers.  Polymers are both naturally occurring and are synthesized.  An example of a naturally occurring polymer is protein which is made from long chains of amino acids.  Since around the late 1800's scientists have learned that by imitating naturally occurring polymers with man-made molecules they can create useful substances.  Thus rayons and synthetic fibers were born.

Synthetic fibers can be made to imitate the drape, function, and feel of many natural fibers.

Here is a brief overview for each of the four main types of synthetics:

Nylon became popular during WWII to replace the silk that was no longer available for parachutes because of Japan's involvement in the war.  Before that it had been first used in toothbrushes and women's stockings. It is most often but not always made from petrochemicals.  It can also be called polymid, polyamide or polyamid.  Nylon is exceptionally strong, elastic, resists abrasion (which is why it's included in sock yarns), has a nice sheen, is resilient and doesn't absorb a lot of moisture.  Of all the synthetics, I think it pills the least.

Polyester is very similar to nylon.  It is lightweight and very strong, very durable so it is resistant to most chemicals, stretching, shrinking, wrinkling, mildew and abrasion. It doesn't absorb water so it drys quickly which makes it great for outdoor and exercise clothing.

Acrylic, of all the synthetic fibers most resembles wool in loft, elasticity, texture and hand.  It is light weight and easy to wash, is moth proof and resistant to damage from the sun or chemicals.

Spandex, also known by the brand name Lycra, is much like nylon or polyester but has tremendous elasticity.  It's able to expand up to 600% and spring back, maintaining its original shape for a long time.  It is often blended with non-elastic fibers like cotton to help garments, like jeans, maintain their shape and fit.

There are many different variations on how each of these main types of synthetic are made, what chemicals, spinning and dying process are used and each with its own unique name.

The main thing all synthetics have in common are low cost, strength, resistance to abrasion, ease of care, little need for ironing, low affinity for moisture which causes a tendency to conduct static electricity and attract microscopic dirt, and they all will melt or pull away from heat. They can be dyed in many vibrant colors.  Most acrylics and polyesters tend to be non-allergenic or at the very least non-irritating.

A quick word about microfibers.  These are are synthetic fibers that are made very, very thin - about 1/20th the diameter of silk!  This gives fabric made from them incredible softness, the ability to wick moisture away from skin and dry quickly making it perfect for work out clothing.  It also is used for cleaning cloths because it takes advantage of synthetics' natural affinity for dust and dirt.  Some kinds of microfibers are also split (much like a cucumber or a radish that has been scored down its length) which allows the microfibers to soak up liquids and hold onto them.

We stock many different synthetic blend yarns and some 100% synthetics as well.  Some of our most popular are Universal Classic Shades line, the Plymouth Encore line including Coffee Beenz & Jelli Beenz, the Berroco Vintage line, Berroco Comfort line, Cascade Pacific & Cherub lines and the Red Heart Boutique lines.  Most of these are great for knitting easy care, machine wash, gentle tumble dry garments.

Check out our searches for all the yarns that contain acrylic, nylon, polymide, and polyester.  You'll see that most of our fun novelty yarns contain synthetic fibers because they can be made to do pretty much what we want them to do.

Here, feel this....that's really soft and yummy and the color is so pretty, what is it?  It's acrylic!

As always, I hope this is useful information.  If you found this helpful or I've left something out, please let me know.  askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.

Terry

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Royal Baby Sew-A-Long Info!!


Sew, here we are waiting for that Royal bundle of joy that is due in July, and what better way to celebrate than make a Royal quilt for that special baby in your life! Some of you already know Gus our resident quilt expert, and we hope you will jump in on this fun SAL (sew a long) and get to know him better! When we asked him if he would like to do a JBW exclusive design for us he didn't hesitate for one second...YES was his answer!!


You can grab your quilt kit here which includes all of the fabric you need (minus the batting) to complete the quilt; including the backing and binding yardage!!  We do encourage more advanced quilters to join us, as there are a lot of ways to add your own style to this unique piece...so this project has a little something for everyone!


Of course how can things ever go wrong when using Kaffe Fasset's Shot Cottons and Woven fabrics??

We are thrilled with the results and know you will enjoy following along beginning Wednesday, July 3rd right here on the Jimmy Beans Wool Blog...we will be revealing step by step detailed instructions for you to work with each week for 6 weeks. The final week will be instructions for the finishing work on this beautiful creation!! Gus will be helping me as I help you (thank goodness :) to work through each step and hopefully learn new techniques as you go! The quilt is an adventurous beginner piece, and we know that you can do it!!

I, for one, am all a twitter and can't wait to get going!! I look forward to getting to know all of you here on the blog, where you will be able to post comments and questions as we move forward. Of course the Royal baby is due sometime in the middle of July, so we will be chatting about the Royals here as well! IF you don't quilt, but DO knit or crochet, we have you covered! Our very own Kristen and Heather will be hosting a KAL/CAL with their very own version of the Royal Baby blanket here on the blog and on Ravelry as well, so come on let's get stitching!!

As always, happy knitting, crocheting and sewing/quilting!!

Jeanne

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Finer Edge by Kristin Omdahl *GIVEAWAY*

Kristin Omdahl is a crochet genius and we are always excited to see a new book from her. The latest, The FinerEdge: Crocheted Trims, Borders, & Motifs is another lovely addition to her repertoire. The book contains written and charted instructions for a myriad of patterns, enough to keep you busy for a good long while. Not only that, but it has both patterns for full garments AND stand alone motifs and trims that you could apply to anything making this book both a reference and a pattern book. This belongs in ANY crocheters library.


We think The Finer Edge speaks for itself so here are some of our favorite designs from the book:

Palmira Shawl

Pompeii Mobius

Petra Wrap Skirt

Birka Car Coat


Luxor Blanket

Memphis Bag

Anni Belt/Scarf
Impressed yet? We certainly are! In fact, we know you are going to love this book so much we just HAD to share it with you! We have a copy of The Finer Edge to giveaway to one reader. Please leave us a comment to let us know what design from the book that you’d knit first. Or, tell us (and link to) your favorite design of Kristin’s. We randomly draw a winner and announce it on the blog on Monday, June 17th. Good luck, and thanks for entering!

Happy crocheting!

Kristen  :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Robots and babies...oh my!! (And the winner of the Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses Giveaway)

The robots are here and boy are we having fun with them!!! Rebekah Ginda is the designer of this fun and whimsical line of fabrics from Birch Fabrics and I just had to dive right in when the collection arrived! I am in super simple project mode these days and the Robotic Patchwork print is right up my alley!! I grabbed a yard of this one, 1 yard of The Lab and 1/2 yard of Zoom in teal and off I went to make a baby quilt! The attractive thing is the way a faux stitch in the ditch fit with the fabric and please keep in mind that I have a couple of smallish quilts in various stages of completion, but this is my FIRST (yep you heard that right) completed quilt!

The things I want to share with you about what I learned from this project you more experienced quilters might say "Gee that's sew simple," but if you are at my level you are probably looking for all the tips you can get. So here you go:

What I learned:

Getting started
1. DON'T trim your quilt until everything is quilted...I learned this the hard way and my quilt was going to be 36 X 36, but I lost a little bit due to my over exuberance at this point.

2. DON'T try to pin your quilt together on your ironing board...you WILL be disappointed! My thinking on this was it is a small piece, nope, use a large flat surface!!

Spraying, folding and smoothing
3.  DO Ask Gus (who is our quilting expert) before you do something new, ha ha!! NO seriously I should have asked him first, but he saved my quilt for me by showing me how to use the 505 Spray and Fix...thanks Gus!! We laid the backing down and clipped it to the sides of the table AND used painters tape to tape down the rest in a nice smooth way. Then we sprayed (lightly) the back and smoothed down the batting; working half of the quilt at a time. Then did the same thing with the top, smoothing as we went! Then we went to step 4.

4. DO listen to Gus's tip when using the Dritz Curved Safety Pins...don't close them! Now on a side note here this was a little fiddly for my tastes (the pins wanted to catch on each other as I quilted), BUT the idea here is NOT to pull on the fabric once it's pinned and it worked very well. I will keep you posted if I learn anything new in this department! Pinning began in one corner and we worked our way out from there...phew all was well again!
Step 5 pinning

5. DO start quilting from the center of the quilt out. I sewed one line of stitching, and then turned and went the other way from the center again. One line was quilted, so then I flipped the piece and did the same thing sewing along the line of the faux squares and it went like a dream. I rolled the sides to help with the bulk, and am very happy with the results!

6. I trimmed the quilt square and bound it...woot, woot!! Now Penne (Bethany's little one) has a new blankie!! Isn't she cute?

I hope I inspired you to look at things in a simple fashion and am always interested in your tips and suggestions!

As always, happy knitting, crocheting and sewing!!

Jeanne

PS. The winner of the Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses giveaway (thanks to random.org) is:  Anonymous

Commenter # 9- Monica Martinez - who said...

How cute are these dresses! Can't wait to see what other designs are in this book! If I won this giveaway I would make a dress for my 2yr old daughter and my 8yr old niece. I might even make myself a cute little summer dress for 4th of July! The ideas are endless. ^_^
Congrats Monica! Please e-mail your mailing address to kristen (at) jimmybeanswool.com to claim your prize!