Another long-term work in progress is done! This blanket has been sitting mostly finished for about 3 years, probably started for one of the nephews. It’s a simple square of polar fleece with the edge folded over and blanket stitched into place with baby yarn. It’s cute, soft, and warm. I don’t have a use for it now, and am putting it away in a box until needed.
This week I blocked all the granny squares that I have made so far. With what will be a total of 130 granny squares, I did not want to use my usual wet blocking method of drying yarn items pinned to a towel on my rug. Sizing, squaring, and pinning 130 granny squares individual sounds absolutely miserable and time consuming. And I don’t want to do it. Inspired by a multitude of pins on Pinterest, I decided to attempt to block multiple granny squares at a time.
The first thing I did was measure appropriately sized squares on a piece of wood and drill holes part way through the board at the corners.
I used a set of size 7 double pointed needles as vertical posts. Unfortunately, once I put the needles in the holes, they were very wobbly. I couldn’t drill the holes deep enough for the needles to be stable without them fall through the board and onto the floor. I attempted to make a smaller, lighter board for the top to add stability. It didn’t work; because some of the granny squares needed to be aggressively blocked, the needles would pull out of the bottom board. And then the top board broke, when I tried to use it to fix the stability issues. The other major issues I was having, was that the edges of the granny squares were warped because I was only blocking the corners.
At this point I was a bit frustrated and decided to take a break from working on blocking and think about how to fix the problems I was having. After consulting with the husband (who enjoys problem solving), we thought up a solution. I drilled the holes all the way through the board (adding a few more holes along the sides of the squares), glued a second board to the bottom of the first board, and drilled partway into the second board with a smaller drill bit.
This solution worked well.
I took advantage of the sun, and extremely dry air by putting the blocked squares outside to dry (benefits of living on the high plains). A stack of about 15 granny squares dried in a few hours, with me occasionally removing the top squares as they dried, and probably would have taken less time if I had checked on them more frequently.
Even with making blocking contraption and running into the issues that I did, I think that this method has taken me less time than pinning each square individually. It will continue to save me time as I make more granny squares. Currently all the squares that I have made are blocked and I am about half way through making granny squares. Eventually I will join the squares into a blanket. I’m thinking a black border would look nice with all the different colors.
I finished one of my unfinished objects. One of the doll dresses is done! I decided to use the doll dresses as an exercise to practice my hand sewing (plus lots of short seams on a machine annoy me). In addition to the dress, I made a petticoat and neckerchief to go with the dress. I think everything turned out fantastically, and I will continue to work my way through all the other patterns in the Past Crafts Patterns pattern book.
I really like the look of the whole ensemble. I have not added closures to the front of the dress yet. I thought I had one of my old American Girl dolls at my house, but I don’t. I will have to grab her next time I visit my parents. I don’t want to add closures to the front of the dress until I know that it will fit the doll.
The dress construction in fairly basic with a lined bodice, and gathered skirt. The sleeve ruffles were a bit annoying to do by hand. I think next time I will use a whip stitch instead of a backstitch to attach them.
The petticoat and neckerchief were easy and used up some of the masses of white cotton in my fabric stash.
The whole ensemble is adorable (in non-historically correct fabric), and I hope it fits when I can actually try it on a doll.
With all the knitting and crocheting that I have done lately, I feel like it’s time for an update on my yarn stash. In the first three months of the year, I have used about a third of my yarn, which puts me well on the way to using up all my yarn by the end of the year.
The tweedish teal and pink yarn were used for my slippers which have been keeping my toes toasty warm. The other yarns, plus the white yarn left over from making the white hat, were all used for granny squares. I’ve made about 20 more, which puts me at a total of 70 granny squares. Only 60 more to go! And then blanket assembly will begin.
The pink baby yarn (not pictured) has also been used for a project, but I still need to weave in ends and block before I make a blog post about it.
I have so much finishing and blocking to do. Seriously, so much. I also still need to weave in ends on the 20 new granny squares. And block all 70 of them. I have schemes to speed up the blocking process, that I am sure I will post about if they work.
I definitely think I will be able to use up all of my yarn by the end of the year; even with adding to my yarn.
On a mostly unrelated note, I am planning a project to knit myself reproduction 18th century stockings. I usually stay away from socks because most patterns I have seen involve trying on the socks and adjusting stitch counts as you go. In line with my usual streak of perfectionism, I can’t make socks that aren’t exactly the same and by the second sock, I can’t remember what I did for the first sock and quit out of frustration. This time, my husband is helping me write a computer program that writes a row by row knitting pattern based off custom measurements and gauge. I am so excited to finish and test the program. Hopefully it will solve my issues with socks. (Plus, I have no yarn suitable for socks, so I will get to buy, and use, some more! Yay!).
So, after a week away from blogging to take care of some grad school stuff, I did a thing I said I wasn’t going to. I bought more yarn. I was supposed to finish my stash before I did that. Ooops.
My husband and I spent a day in Denver and ended up in a local yarn store: Lamb Shoppe. And I fell in love with the Sueño by HiKoo yarn in dusty lilac. It is a dk weight wool/bamboo blend. And it’s so soft and pretty! Even better it is perfect for a project that has been in my Ravelry library forever. I’m using it for the Celtic Myths shawl by Asita Krebs. I think this yarn will show off the cable pattern wonderfully.
And clearly, I was excited and inspired. I bought three skeins and I couldn’t even wait to take a photo of the new yarn before I cast on. After, having the shawl on my needles for under a week… I am over half way done. Just a couple of more rows and I will start the border.
After frogging the shawl twice, because I missed a stitch and apparently, I can’t tink yarn overs, I discovered lifelines (used red string this time). They are the best thing I have learned lately. And I will be using them on every future project. I love having a section of my project that will be safe no matter how badly I mess up after the adding the lifeline.
I’m so excited for this yarn and this project. And I promise, I’m still working on using up my yarn stash. I’ve crocheted about 15 granny squares since my Yarn Stash post.
Does anyone else do this? I always seem to try to use yarn I already have and then I see a yarn that I absolutely need
This was a quick, spur of the moment project. My husband was complaining about the corners of our plastic reusable hot pack poking him. I can fix that! To solve the problem, I made a quick hot pack out of soft cotton flannel.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Talk to one. Don’t burn yourself. Be careful.
To make the hot pack, I used the same method as the steel wool pincushion from last week. I cut a long thing rectangle of soft cotton flannel (approximately 6in x 24in). I then folded fabric in half with the right sides together and iron. While ironing, I also folded the seam allowance on the short ends back and ironed the fold. I stitched the two long edges closed, trimmed the seams and corners, turned the hot pack right side out, and filled about 3/4 full with rice. I hand stitched the short edge closed. It takes about 1 min in the microwave to warm up the hot pack. The amount of time would depend on the rice and the microwave.
Personally, I prefer out plastic hot pack from the drug store, but the husband likes this one. Total, the project took me about 10 min. and I found the fabric in the remnant bin at the fabric store for less than a dollar.
During one of my recent sewing projects I noticed that my pin-chicken had some red spots on it. Some of my pins were starting to rust! This was unacceptable and I started googling for a solution (I didn’t want to buy new pins… for reasons). Google’s most common suggestion was to use a pincushion filled with emery powder (apparently that’s what the little strawberry attached to the tomato pincushions is for. Who knew?). I’m cheap. I don’t want to buy knew pins, I’m definitely not going to buy an expensive pincushion. On a couple of quilting forums, I found a couple of comments from people saying that they use steel wool. And guess what? I have some of that in the garage, left over from a different project. Perfect! I’ll test this idea.
I decided that instead of just running my pins through a piece of steel wool I would make a pin cushion for continued pin sharpening and de-rusting. To make the pin cushion I cut a rectangle of fabric, folded it in half, ironed it, and folded back the seam allowance on the top/short end. I chose checked fabric so that I didn’t have to measure anything.
Then I stitched the sides, trimmed the seam allowance and corners, and turned the pincushion right-side out. And then shoved a steel wool pad inside.
All that was left was to close the open end by hand (I like using a mattress/ladder stitch for things like this) and test the pincushion. In total the pincushion took maybe 15 minutes to make.
So… does it work? Yes, it does! Honestly, I am amazed. After sticking my pins into the pincushion a few times, they are all incredibly sharp and going into fabric incredibly easily. For the rust, most of them are fine now, but a couple had rust up against the bottom of the head where the pincushion couldn’t reach.
Invigorated by the success with my pins, I grabbed all my dull sewing needles and they are now all bright and sharp. The steel wool even took of the weird residue that builds up on my needles from my sweaty fingers (TMI?, sorry).
Had anyone else tried this magical concept?
In a fit of exultation, I decided that the rest of the world needed to share the amazingness of freshly sharpened pins, so I made a few more pincushions. They are listed on my Etsy shop if you would like one.