Work in progress: baby blanket update

The center of the baby blanket is done! As you know, I’ve used some special yarn: hand-dyed and handspun in Devon. This means there’s not much of it, though, so I wasn’t able to make an entire blanket out of it. P1090723

But isn’t what I have so far pretty? I used the Indian Cross Stitch. It seems like the ideal solution to wanting some openness and yet having yarn that doesn’t really suit a lace pattern (I tried several, and none looked right).

P1090725P1090727P1090728

And I love the colors so much! They are soft & perfect for a baby without being wishy washy.

The next step is to block this, and ideally condition it to make the wool even softer. Does anyone have recommendations for something to soften it?

Now the big challenge is picking out a border. I’ll be knitting it in an undyed yarn, and it should be a really nice contrast. The hard part is picking out the pattern! I borrowed a book of edgings from work and have narrowed it down to about 6 choices, but I’m really struggling now. I really wanted to ask your opinions, but I had to return it on my last day (I’m on maternity leave now!!) and forgot to take pictures – though I did remember to photocopy the instructions, never fear. I couldn’t find pictures of most of them online. I guess I will just have to cope with the stress of decision-making this time, and you will have to be surprised. Though if you do have any favorite stitch patterns, I’d love to hear them.

FO: Maile baby cardigan

P1090510Finally, I’ve accomplished something knitting-related this year! This week I finished the Maile cardigan from What to Knit When You’re Expecting. This isn’t for me, but for a friend who had a baby in June. I knit it using Rico Baby Dream DK, which is one of the most gloriously soft & smooshy yarns I’ve had the pleasure to knit with. Technically this cardigan’s meant to be in 4-ply, but I had this yarn on hand & it turned out just fine, if possibly a little bigger than intended. The buttons are vintage cloth-covered ones that I had in my stash already.

P1090514

This was a pretty straightforward knit, but I’m not sure I’d knit it again. I prefer top-down cardigans; this one had slightly odd construction. To her credit, the author does acknowledge that it’s a difficult sleeve join & offers tips (i.e. the magic loop method) to help. It was still a faff, though, and resulted in some awkward seaming.

p1090517.jpg

The best thing about this knit was that it was my first knit using my set of interchangeable Hiya Hiya super sharp needles. And they were delightful! It was also a novelty to have spare cables, which meant I could just slip sections onto a spare cable & reuse the same size needles, rather than needing either spare needles or scrap yarn (which is useful, but I do find transferring the stitches back onto a needle annoying because I am terribly lazy).P1090511

Yarn along & a couple of presents

On the knitting front, the saga of the blue willow jumper continues. I really love the way this looks, but I’m really regretting not taking the time to work out how to knit it in the round. Purling colourwork is a pain. I am definitely going to take the time to work out how to knit the sleeves in the round, though.

P1050865.JPG

On the train this morning, I finished reading The Guest Cat. While I admire the elegance of Japanese prose, and love how descriptive it is, I must admit most Japanese books aren’t really for me. There’s just something that doesn’t click with me. I really enjoyed reading The Guest Cat, though, and found it very moving. It’s slow-moving, eloquent, and emotional. It was a slow and enjoyable book, but I am not sure yet whether it’s memorable. I would still recommend it if someone is in the mood for beautiful reflective writing.

P1040878.JPG

P1040877.JPG

I think I mentioned before that I was thinking of making a sampler for my friend who was getting married. As you can see, I did! When I asked what the theme for her wedding was, she said pink & glitter (which is very her). This was my interpretation. I would’ve liked to do something prettier, but I have to admit I was quite last minute. I have a long way to go to improve my written embroidery, too. But I liked all the French knots on the outside, and it did look nice when framed. I was also very impressed with my heart, especially given that  I didn’t use a template. Nice and symmetrical! I really hope they liked it. My embroidery still isn’t great, so I always get anxious when I give it as a gift.

P1050857.JPG

My next present is going to be a set of soft blocks for my friend’s newborn, using some scrap fabric from my stash.

Linking up with the Yarn Along. What are you up to this week?

Vintage pledge: first item done!

P1020096

A couple of weeks ago, I finally managed to complete my first item for the vintage pledge! I am really pleased with it (though I am less pleased with the fact that it isn’t Simplicity 5728, which is still underway). My vintage pledge isn’t just about vintage patterns; I said I would sew 3 items using either vintage patterns or vintage fabric. This playmat/baby blanket uses vintage fabric from 1982 and has a back made from fleece.

P1010842

I spotted this fabric while I was browsing eBay one night. I put it in my watch list and tried to forget about it, as it seemed quite expensive. Alas, that plan didn’t work; I was still thinking about it when a good friend had her first baby. As the fabric’s very whimsical & had actually made me think of said friend straightaway, I decided to go for it. What a good decision!

P1020097

The print was on a bigger scale than I’d anticipated, so the idea of making it a playmat came to me when it arrived. The playmat is 120 cm square and used most of the fabric.

I followed Purl Bee’s instructions for a playmat. Some medium-weight batting was cut to size, then the fleece was laid on top of that, then the vintage fabric went facedown on that. It was quite straightforward, really. I was really nervous about sewing the batting, but that was mostly okay. To minimise the chance of my machine accidentally eating the batting, I put the fabric on the bottom and the batting on the top. It only caught on my foot a couple of times.

P1020094

Once I had sewn the majority of it, I turned it right side out and handsewed the rest. I am pretty chuffed with my handsewing on this! I think the fleece did a brilliant job of hiding the thread. đŸ™‚

P1020066

Instead of leaving it as just a plain mat, I made a strap with Velcro sewn on so it could be rolled up like a sleeping bag. This bit really wasn’t perfect; I found it really hard to judge where to put the Velcro, and it ended up being too tight. It still works, though, which is the most important thing.

P1020099

Ta-dah! The one thing I haven’t taken a picture of is the baby’s name embroidered on the fleece. Little touches make all the difference for gifts, don’t they?