Monday, 23 October 2017

My First-Ever Pair of Fingerless Gloves

I'm a strong colours kinda gal.  I love pink in all its shades and hues but I especially adore hot pink. When I came across a yarn cake in shades of hot pink, melon, and orange a couple of weeks ago, I just had to have it.  I used that yarn cake to make a hat to go with my favourite purse and then, when the hat was done and I still had yarn left over, I decided a wanted to make a pair of fingerless gloves too.

I've never made fingerless gloves before so I did what I most often do when I want to craft something new: I looked on Pinterest.  I wanted a pattern that was written for worsted weight yarn, was knit in the round but had no fancy patterning or cabling, and had a proper, knitted tube in which to fit my thumb. I found a pattern from Midknight Knitter that exactly met my requirements.

I learned some things while knitting these gloves:

Lesson One - It's been a while since I've knitted in the round and I'd forgotten that my tension tends to be tighter when working on four needles than when knitting flat.  My knitting tends to be on the tight side so I knit my gauge swatch with needles one size up from those indicated in the pattern.  The gauge was right when knitted flat, but when I knit the actual glove in the round it turned out to be an unexpectedly tight fit.  I wouldn't want to use an even larger needle for this project because the knitting would then appear too open for my taste, but next time I make these gloves I'll add an extra couple of stitches when I first cast on.

Lesson Two - I wanted to finish the thumb on the glove in the same knit 1, purl 1 ribbing that makes the top and bottom of the glove instead of in stockinette stitch as called for in the pattern. Picking up the recommended number of stitches for the thumb on the first glove left holes in the finished glove that I had to repair with a needle and some scrap yarn.  When I made the second glove, I picked up 8 stitches instead of 4 and then knit 2 together, purled 2 together twice for the first row on that needle to make the total of 14 stitches over 3 needles called for in the pattern. 

Lesson Three - Now that I've learned the pattern of increases used to shape the thumb gusset I can apply it to any other glove pattern regardless of the yarn weight.  I'll simply work extra rows in the pattern of increases for finer yarn and fewer rows for heavier yarn.

I'll be making more of these gloves.  They were quick to knit and fun to make, and the simple pattern is infinitely adaptable.  I hope you give it a try too.

Friday, 1 September 2017

How To Draw An Undulating Grid

An undulating grid is an optical illusion created by manipulating perspective in drawing.  By using curving lines and making some parts of the grid larger and some smaller, some parts of the grid are made to appear closer and others further away.

Simple undulating grids were among the first optical illusions I learned to draw as a teenager.  I continue to use them in my work as backgrounds, as the basis for mazes, and as components of more intricate work.  I thought you might like to know how to make them too.

Begin by dividing your page into equally sized rectangles.  It doesn't matter what size or shape of rectangle you choose but it's important to remember that the smaller the size of the original rectangles, the smaller the finished grid will be, and that the smaller the finished grid, the more fine line and attention to detail it will require.  

For this example, I'm using 8.5 x 11 inch paper and I've divided it into 16 rectangles. (4 vertical rows, and 4 horizontal rows).

Beginning at the center, draw wavy lines that begin with a narrow curve and widen towards the dividing line of the next rectangle then narrow again towards the dividing line of the following rectangle. Continue this repetition to the bottom of the page, working to about half the width of each rectangle on either side of the center line.  You could get all mathematical and precise about this but freehand works just fine and gives a more organic feeling of movement to the finished grid.

Repeat the same arrangement of wavy lines around every second vertical line to either side of center.

Now, reverse the curved lines to wide, narrow, wide and fill in the remaining vertical spaces.  

(I've drawn mine in red so you can see more clearly what I mean.  If you're drawing it yourself you'll probably want to do all the lines the same colour.)

Now repeat the whole process horizontally.

And that's it:  You've drawn your undulating grid.  It looks pretty cool, doesn't it? You can either leave it just as it in or you can colour it. Either way, have fun with it.

  • I find it best to draw my grids in pencil first and then go over the lines in pen, erasing the pencil once the pen lines are finished.
  • Don't get all hung up on perfection.  You can see that my lines are wiggly and imperfectly spaced.  It doesn't matter.  The point is to have fun.
  • If there's a line you really don't like, remove it and redraw it.  If you're removing an ink line, you can use white out, but I don't love it because it gets all clumpy and is hard to draw over.  I find that a Sharpie paint pen works best for this.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Make a Simple Cushion Cover

When we sold the house before the place where I live now, my husband and I gave in to a home staging trend that was popular at that time. We succumbed to beige (well actually beige, taupe, cafe au lait, and paper bag brown; you know the group of colours to which I'm referring) in the hope that the neutral colours would appeal to the widest possible range                                                                                of prospective buyers. 

Our strategy worked and I'm grateful for that, but now I'm that I'm settled into my apartment I find that the warm neutrals we used for staging are not my cup of tea at all. I'm a bright colours kinda gal.

Because I'm on a limited income and don't like to waste things, I'm stuck with those staging accessories and linens whether I love them or not.  I've spent a lot of time in the past few years trying different approaches to my decor dilemma and I've finally arrived at a solution that works for me: I use home sewn quilts, throws, and cushion covers to cover up the beige-ness of those staging goods, and I change these new linens to suit the seasons.

I recently changed my living room textiles over to spring colours and thought that, since I was sewing new cushion covers, it might be fun to share instructions for this simple project with you.  

Here's one of the cushions I decided to recover, together with the fabric I used for the cushion cover's front. 

The first step in making a cushion cover is to measure the cushion you'll be covering.  Mine was square so I only needed to measure in one direction but if you were covering a rectangular cushion, you'd need to measure both the cushion's length and its width.
The next step is to calculate the sizes of the fabric pieces you'll need to cut.  

I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance and there is one seam sewn on each side of the fabric, so when cutting the fabric for the front of the cushion cover I added 1/2 inch to both the height and width of the cushion's measurements.  This cushion is 17 inches square so I cut the front piece to 17-1/2 inches by 17-1/2 inches.

The back pieces are a little more complicated.  

Start by dividing the cushion's length measurement by 2.  In the case of my cushion cover, this meant that the base measurement on which the back pieces were based was 17 inches wide by 8-1/2 inches tall.

Add 2 inches to the length of one piece for overlap.

Add 1 inch to the length of both pieces for the hem allowance.                                                                        
Add 1/4 inch to each side  of both pieces for seam allowances.

Add 1/4 inch to the bottom edge of each piece for a seam allowance.

For my cushion cover this yielded one piece that was 17-1/2 inches wide and 11-3/4 inches tall and another that was 17-1/2 inches wide and 9-3/4 inches tall.  I've broken down my calculations in the diagrams below.

Once you've done the math and cut your pieces, the hardest part of the whole project is behind you.  :)

I like to make my patterned fabric stretch over as many projects as possible so I used my print fabric for the front piece of my cushion cover and some plain cotton broadcloth for the back pieces.  

Start by hemming both of the back pieces.  Fold 1/2 inch one of the wide edges over to the wrong side of the fabric and press it. Fold over  another 1/2 inch, press the edge, and pin it in place. Top stitch closely beside the open edge of the hem.
With right sides facing together pin the shorter of the two back pieces to the front piece of the cushion cover.  The hem of the back piece should align with the horizontal center of the the front piece.
With the wrong side out and the hem of the second back piece overlapping the first back piece, pin the second back piece of the cushion cover in place.  There should be 2 inches of fabric overlapping at the middle of the cover.
Stitch around all four sides of the fabric.  I like to finish my seams with zig zag stitch.  
Clip at a 45 degree angle from the fabric's edge just above the corners, close to the stitch line.
Turn the cover right side out and use a narrow object to push the corners out so they're nice and pointy. (There are tools specially designed for this but I just use a large plastic knitting needle.)
And that's it.  You're done!  Press the finished cushion cover, tuck your cushion inside, and display your work proudly.  

This post has been linked to the May Day edition of The Hearth and Soul Link Party.  There are lots of wonderful ideas there.  Stop in and take a look.  :)