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Well, it really is a little sweater! But first the “blob.”

See the indent in the lower right? That is the front neck and it gets rotated up.

Here’s the back view.

Surprisingly, one error in marking increases and decreases fixed all the problems in the first try.

In the previous post I’d mentioned changing color on the wrong side so I got the divided line where it would show on the right side. And I wondered if I could make it look intentional. I think I did.

And here it is, all ends woven in and shoulder seams sewn. This design is for a baby with strong taste, who doesn’t want to dress like a baby.

The Complete Surprise book does more than clarify instructions. There are photographs explaining stitches and charts to help with design. It is so thoroughly explained that the end result is no longer much of a surprise. And if you like line-by-line instructions, they are there too.

It offers variations in size and feature. It explains the geometry and sizing. So I think I’ll make me one.

Let’s see. I am to cast on the desired width + 6 times the arm width times gauge. I guess I can’t avoid knitting a swatch.


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Another Beginning

So the T Quilt doesn’t have a deadline after all. (Plans had changed when I wasn’t paying attention. ) There is no rush for the baby quilt. What better time than now to start something new?

Stretching Art and Tradition is coming up early next year. This year’s entry is being held to show next year, but we have also been given a theme for next year: When One Door Closes. (Wonder where that came from. )

This time the size requirement has changed to 24 inches by 36. A little easier than the old 18 x 36. So I started thinking. As you will remember, I prefer more abstract design, and that makes following a theme sometimes challenging. Also I have some Japanese kimono silk that I’d like to use; working with silk would be the new technique.

The first idea I had was an overall 9-patch structure composed of 9 9-patch blocks, each adding one more light square (well, rectangle and an odd size at that).

The idea turned out to be more interesting conceptually than visually. So I shifted to a grid of 4-inch squares with a dark to light movement. First try

I plan all the light squares to be the silk with fabric manipulation for variety and the dark to be one shade of dark, varied textures (velvet, cotton, satin, corduroy) and maybe different close hues ( brown, purple, black).

Not sure I like the clump of four, though the idea was to have it reappear after being blocked. Again the visual interest may not equal the conceptual. So I tried again.

I’m liking it better but not committed to it. Stay tuned.


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Leaders/Enders Progress—and Scrap Happy

Another project I worked on during the virtual retreat was attaching 4-patch blocks to their alternate blocks for their last round as leaders/enders. These 2-inch squares have been leaders and enders for forever—at least 2 years, maybe 3. Of course their use had been interrupted by two other leader/ender projects: Star Kissed and Irish Star

After this step was finished at the retreat, it was time for them to graduate and become a project. So after a while, I laid them out and did a bit of rearranging so that fabrics that drew attention to themselves were somewhat spaced. Then sewed.

36 x 36

It won’t make it to this year’s Toy and Joy, but the fire fighters need the quilts (and quilts get delivered) all year. Usually a fire fighter representative picks a dramatically large batch up at the December meeting, but with Covid and virtual meetings quilts had to be dropped off early November. It will just not get to the guild’s total, and that’s not the end of the world. It will augment next year’s.

This top is made 100% from scraps. There were only threads remaining after I cut the 72 squares for the alternate blocks. If you like Scrappy projects, check out Kate’s blog and follow links that are there.


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T-for-Terry Top and Back

And the top is finished.

You can hardly tell that the final border is made of squares, and that was the plan. If there had been enough fabric it would have been a plain strip of the same batik that is in the center block.

I like the narrow brown border, but it didn’t solve the balance issue. And I see why not. The area between the two narrow borders functions visually as a unit. Even though that had been my intent, I’d not made the next step to think balance. Rather I’d used the 2, 3, 4 inch units to figure the next. (Interestingly, I’d treated the middle two as one, but I didn’t carry that concept through. ) So a 9-inch outer border might have worked, or a 6 if I had had enough fabric. And a use for a larger quilt. I was aiming for something near 40 x 60, and it is 46 x 64. ( Do I get extra credit for a palindrome measurement?)

Put on your sunglasses for the back. Are you ready?

The bright is the rest of the fabric in the alternating squares of the final border on the front. When I use only 2 fabrics on a back and have enough fabric, I like to use the “zipper” strip to join them. I think it looks more like I designed it than that I ran out of fabric. And it doesn’t add much construction time.

Tomorrow the quilt gets sandwiched.


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This was supposed to be the post that said, Top finished. But I laid the last border out and am not sure.

My first thought was that the problem was that the two last borders should not be the same size. If so, I can only learn not to do that again and just finish it up. My second thought was that the blending shades had gotten boring. Interestingly, it looks better in the photo than in real life. The photo has more value contrast.

I am thinking of a narrow brown border before the final one. We’ll see. ( I already have to fudge the length so adding a half-inch border wouldn’t be a problem. )

Meanwhile I am happy with the strip of one-inch squares.

The first layout for that border was a disappointment. I did my usual construction of apparent randomness, and it just looked messy and busy. Chaotic even. (Sorry, I didn’t document it. ) Then I got the idea of matching the previous row, tried it, and liked it. I matched all but the light pink; otherwise, too much pink in spots.

A note about color. Last summer in her color class on Academy of Quilting, Elizabeth Barton mentioned that using cool and warm variations of a color gave a piece added depth. The batik already had that feature, my pink scraps came in orangish and purplish. So I tried it and like it.

I’ll be working on the top tomorrow so I can consider using any early suggestions. Later suggestions will be mentally useful to consider. They just won’t make it to this quilt.

ETA audition of brown


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T-Quilt Progress

Most of my time at the virtual retreat was spent on the HSTs for the T-for-Terry quilt last worked on in May ( )

T-for Terry

Making and trimming HSTs is boring, so it is a good task for working while chatting. You can see the numbers weren’t right for the top and bottom. I tried to solve that with the center square. Looks kinda clunky. Then I got an idea.

A 1 x 2 flying-goose block to the rescue. (Once I’d thought of it, I wondered why it took so long—it seemed so obvious!)

For the remainder, Plan A was two more 4-inch borders, but the challenge is the measurements don’t divide by 4 evenly. Normally a 1-inch spacer would do the trick, but that is not the look I want. Pondering possibilities.


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Turkey in the Straw

Continue reading


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Back to Hats and Books

I followed up on Maribeth’s comment in the last post and ordered The Complete Surprise.

While I waited for it to arrive I turned the failed baby sweater into a hat.

And I finished reading Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody, an important introductory survey of systemic harm done to black people. Hill covers mostly the criminal justice system but also includes the lead in Flint,MI, water. (Longer review here).

The knitting book finally arrived.

I think I learned the problem. I’d placed markers before the three stitches to be decreased, causing one side to decrease the sleeve and the other side the body. The marker needed to go in the middle stitch, which would decrease more evenly. When I have used up more yarn scraps, I’ll buy the right size yarn and try again. It actually sounds like worsted would work, just making a sweater for a bigger baby, as I had hoped.

Meanwhile, the book starts with a scarf that uses all the same stitches as the baby surprise jacket. Why not play?

Even with markers placed correctly, it took a while to find the right spot for decreases and increases. I really hate counting stitches, so I worked on “reading” my knitting, just counting as a quick double check. I got pretty accurate on the decreases, not so trustworthy on the increases. I may have to make another scarf because it is easier to count 18 stitches than 130 or so.


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The Skeptics Win the First Round

So the Baby Surprise Jacket (begun here) didn’t turn out to be a pleasant surprise. But the “blob” is completed.

And though it doesn’t end up a usable jacket, the jacket potential is there.

I knew knitting when I couldn’t make gauge was risky. The pattern hadn’t indicated a row gauge, so I didn’t know if it would turn out proportionally larger. One way to see is to try.

And I was not surprised to see the sleeves end up different lengths. Early on I could see a possible problem: I was decreasing stitches in the left sleeve but the second decrease came in the area before the right sleeve. I looked for errata, but didn’t find any. I looked at posts on Ravelry but that issue wasn’t mentioned.

I reread the directions but couldn’t see any way to read it other than the way I had.

Pictures of finished jackets show short sleeves, so the left one is closer to correct. But it is too small at the shoulder. And the left front corner was nowhere near correct. So simply changing where I did the right decrease wasn’t going to solve it.

EZ’s directions are cryptic. Meg Swenson’s elaborations are also cryptic. There may be another book where they get clarified.

So next move is to buy the right size yarn and to explore other EZ books. But that won’t be this summer because the goal for this year is using up yarn scraps, not buying new yarn. So don’t hold your breath.


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A Hat and a New Plan

I tried another approach to hat design. This time I tried one stripe pattern that would go with two colors.

The blue yarn determined the distance before stripes began and size of stripes because it was in several small balls.

And the hat versions.

While I was knitting this one I remembered Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket. It has always fascinated me, and I saw one finished once in a knitting group. I found the book.

And it seemed I had enough yarn.

Well maybe not enough. I am almost halfway and have used more than half. Directions said 3 oz. Shetland wool. I assumed it was worsted, and I have 5oz. I went down to size 6 needles and still was one stitch short of gauge. There is no way I could knit any denser. I decided to give it a try.

The surprise is that after knitting a one piece blob, with a few folds and two seams it turns into a sweater. Like I said, I have seen a finished one that indeed looked like a sweater. I did not get to see the the folding process. We’ll see.


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