Friday 28 February 2014

Last Stop of the Book Tour Uncommonly Corduroy

Earlier this month Stephanie from Loft Creations had her first book published, and for nine days we have been visiting blogs showing some projects included in this book. The last stop of the blog Book Tour Uncommonly Corduroy is right here.  You are most welcome!

The tour began naturally at Stephanie's own Loft Creations, and we have visited her pattern testers she calls Supremes. If you missed a post, here are the stops once more:
February 19  --  Stephanie at  Loft Creations
February 20 -- Martingale at Stitch This
February 21 --  Candace at  Squash House Quilts
February 22 -- Carrie at A Passion for Applique
February 23 --  Mary at Mary on Lake Pulaski
February 24 --  Char at  Cloth Stitched 
February 25 --  Mary at Needled Mom
February 26 -- Linda at The Quilted Pineapple  (Linda will be sharing up close and personal details about quilting on corduroy)
February 27 -- Margaret at A Sampler of Stitches 
February 28 -- Ulla at Kotkarankki  - that's right here.

My modest contribution to the book was testing a bag pattern. As a hobby quilter with English as a foreign language I must make an ideal tester: if I can understand the instructions, anyone can. The pattern was named Ethel and MJ, bags for twin aunties. Here is Stephanie's own version, one bag for each auntie. Polka dots are for the designer, I guess. You must get the book to find out why one flower is red and the other is pink!

Image from Uncommonly Corduroy by Stephanie Dunphy, Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photo by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

I made just one bag:
Instead of corduroy, I used some upholstery fabric rests for the sides and cotton/linen curtains from my childhood home for the centre and the handles. Recycled heavy corduroy pants would also work fine for a bag project like this where all the pieces are large. I have not yet seen and touched  this lovely 21-wale corduroy Stephanie used for her quilts and bags, but if it is anything like the "baby corduroy" I have used for making a dress for my little daughter years ago, you will love using it. Naturally your normal quilting cottons are also a good choice, the firm stabilizer between the layers will guarantee for good looks.

The bag has an inside pocket for keys or a train ticket. The lining and pocket are made with quilting cotton. As usual, the instructions are easy to follow and the parts go together like a dream.
Two matching buttons, one for closing the bag and one for the flower. A funny coincidence: these buttons were a gift from Stephanie many years ago and now they found a perfect place on the bag made after her pattern. 
The book is full of great projects, guaranteed Loft Creations quality. I hope the Supremes' versions seen together with Stephanie's originals on this tour will help you see how they would look in your own fabrics. Use up your stash! There are bags in various sizes for every taste, beautiful quilts, wall hangings and even a scarf. The books offers useful hints for bag making at the beginning of the book, and a chapter about sewing with corduroy. Every project comes with a little story. I think my first project from the book will be one of the other bags.
The publisher Martingale has given 10 eBooks to give away on this blog book tour. Now you have a last chance to win your own free eBook copy of Uncommonly Corduroy by leaving a comment here on this post. Please make sure you are not a "noreply-comment" so I can e-mail you about the win. I will draw the winner on Tuesday the 4th of March. If you want more chances to win, you can go back to the other blogs of this tour listed above and see if their draw is still open. If you prefer a hard copy, you can get it directly from Martingale here, or from Amazon here, or you can buy a signed copy from Stephanie, the link is on her right sidebar.


Tuesday 25 February 2014

New knitting finishes and a new way to make a pompom

I had some leftover yarns from knitting mittens and socks for two little girls, so I wanted to knit matching hats for them. I bought some pink yarn to make the purple hat prettier, and naturally little girls' hats will be lovelier if they have a pompom. I tested a new (to me anyway) way to make a big pompom. I have always cut two circles of cardboard and used a needle to wind the yarn through the centre hole and around the circle. For the newest pompom before this I used a plastic pompom maker that works just like the old cardboard version but is reusable and comes in three sizes. This time I needed a big pompom, and the new trick promised just that. First, you need an empty kitchen roll core cut in half or two toilet roll cores. No needle needed, just start winding your yarn around both rolls like this. It goes really fast!

When you think there is enough yarn for the pompom, cut your yarn. Take a longish piece of strong yarn and tie it between the roll cores around the pompom yarn. I made a slip knot.

Take your good big scissors and cut at opposite sides of the roll core pair through all layers of yarn.

Tighten the slip knot really tight and tie the ends of that yarn twice around the centre of the pompom and make a knot or two. Hold these long tails  and trim the pompom. Use the tails to fasten the pompom where you want it.

Here are the hats finished. The yellow hat has "my grandmother's mitten pattern", and for the purple hat I used a star pattern my mother once used for my hat. It was pink with white stars, and a wonderful white pompom that wasn't so heavy that it would pull your head back.

My mother was the little girls' great grandmother, and I hope these hats will bring the knitted love tradition of our family to the newest generation. My mother used to call her knitting "time bent to curves", referring to the form the yarn takes, but I'd like to add love to the time.

Saturday 22 February 2014

February's baby socks

Last month I took the challenge  to help the pensioners' club in Järvenpää to reach their goal to gift every new baby in town with a pair of Train Socks. My plan is to knit a pair every month. I thought I knew the pattern by heart after my red pair in January. Well, the number of stitches and the number of rows is right all the way from top to toe, but this time I made knit 1, purl 1 for the parts that should have been knit 2, purl 2.  Better luck next time, and I don't think the baby will mind.
I may have told you that we keep a record of the bird species we see in or from our garden. This is about the 5th year, and the total number of species is 54, most of them quite common yard birds coming to feed on the feeder or to nest in our birdhouses. Some we have seen only once, but most of them are regular visitors. We offer them sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts, a bundle of oats (you can see the lower part of that bundle in the top right corner here), a special mixture of bird seeds and a "sausage" made of tallow and seeds. This year we have had a great titmouse invasion, they come in large numbers, ten or twenty at a time, but until today we have not seen one single willow tit since December. We don't understand where they have gone, because blue tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits keep coming just like every year. I keep hoping they simply find their food in the forest where they live because there is so little snow.

Have you noticed the blog book tour that is going on, showing projects from Stephanie's new book Uncommonly Corduroy? At every stop you have a chance to win your own eBook copy with 17 project patterns: quilts, bags and more. My turn to show the project I tested will be on Friday the 28th, and that will end the blog book tour. You will find the schedule on Stephanie's blog.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

First quilt finish of the year

This winter has not felt like a real winter because of the lack of snow. Maybe that's why I have been knitting winter things like socks and mittens instead of sewing quilts. Anyway, I started sewing some scraps together in January:

and today the String Beans quilt is finally finished. This is one of Stephanie's patterns, easy to follow and accurate as always.
I needed to adjust my borders to the width of my backing and batting. Stephanie's original quilt was a lap size 52" x 62". As I made this quilt for the local nursing home, I wanted it to be comfortable for someone who likes a nap on the bed, keeping warm from neck to toe. I added 11 beans, one row for the width and another for the length. The backing is bright red flannel. I think it is shining through in this picture. I'm so glad it didn't stain the white when I washed the finished quilt this morning! Of course I had prewashed the backing separately before using it.
The binding is the same pink fabric as I used for the sashings, something from my sister's stash she generously dumped in my boxes. All the other fabrics are from my stash, recycled shirts or rest bits from old projects, and the white background comes from the edge parts of old sheets. I like to follow the tradition of making patchwork of used fabric and adding leftover scraps for spicing so nothing is wasted.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Tulips, mittens and socks again

Our internet line was cut off from the beginning of the month until today. It was strange not to be able to look up facts, or pay the bills, and most of all to read all the blogs.
Instead of sitting by the computer for hours on end, I had time to knit

and to knit some more, to fill the bucket at the Flying Mitten as you know it, or officially Lentävä Lapanen. In the link you can see a story about their own new yarn they are launching on Valentine's Day. The yarn is from Finnish sheep and the colours are designed by Taina Schildt of the Flying Mitten.

These are the last socks and mittens I brought there today, and I was happy to see how the small beginning had grown to at least two dozen pairs of socks and mittens for the Finnish Red Cross.