Peering into the padded room

Posted by on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Oh, how I meant to show you process photos of this project. But I dinna. Because. So, instead, I’ll give you peek into how messed up my process can be. If you don’t want to wade into the crazy, look at the pretty pictures and move along–no one will be the wiser.

In short, I watched some videos and read some articles on foundation paper piecing and was reminded that I found it torturous when I tried it in the past, but that the results could be so very beautiful. Coincidentally, I also decided to finally visit Jinny Beyer’s quilting shop, which is practically in my neighborhood, to theoretically pick up some Christmas presents. Lo and behold, I was able to get some beautiful handmade silk scarves for the women in my family and I picked up a foundation paper piecing kit for a tote. It was on sale, and the samples were gorgeous, and I am a sucker for blues and greens. It seemed like a great opportunity to stretch my skills and make something lovely, and that if I hated it I could donate it and never see it again.


At the beginning, the whole project set my teeth on edge. I felt like I was being hazed. Since it was a kit that involved small amounts of fabric, I was concerned that pre-washing the fabric would leave me with too little of some of the colors to complete the spectrum correctly. I am a pre-washer. It is a nigh-religious dedication. Telling me not to pre-wash fabrics is akin to telling me to stop brushing my teeth every day. Right, so I couldn’t pre-wash the fabrics, but I would live through it.

And, while I constantly piece on foundations, I piece on fabric foundations for stability and to make geometry behave itself. Foundation piecing on paper involves so much flipping and sewing blind and ignoring grain and and and . . . Oh, the humanity! These are things garment sewers don’t do. Grain is holy. Grain must be observed and obeyed at all times. But I would have to pretend to forget about the grain.

And the directions were . . . the construction directions themselves were fine, but the cutting chart and foundation pages were originally made for a different color way and rather lazily adapted for the blue colorway. Considering the price of the kit, even on sale, that truly annoyed me. But I cut, and I muddled through the piecing.

And then came the quilting phobia. I feel incapable of free-motion quilting because it’s too much like drawing and I can’t draw. My attempts to steel myself to quilt this in any interesting manner succumbed to my wussyness, and I stitched in the ditch (rather poorly).


But once I got passed my tantrums, I was smitten. The fabrics themselves are lovely. I wouldn’t necessarily have opted for some of these prints, but the quality of the cotton and the clarity and saturation of the dyes are beautiful. And the spectrum itself was selected by someone with real color theory skill. And the points! So fun! If I could wear the bag as a dress, I would. It’s big enough that I may move into it.

Once I was able to stop agonizing over the bag, I jumped into making up the wool-along afghan. I went through my blocked squares and noticed that I had nine squares that were roughly 10″ and the rest are in the 12″ range. Since those smaller squares also happened to be in some of the softer wools and looked nice near each other, I decided to make what’s essentially a central nine patch, border that with simple narrow lace, and then build out with the larger squares. Those lace bands will also allow me to incorporate the few fingering weight skeins I got for some of the breeds.

(For the curious, it’s BFL, CVM, BFL
Polwarth, Columbia/Targhee, Polwarth
Cormo/yak, BFL/Polwarth, Cormo/Yak with BFL embroidery
I dyed all of the blue squares in this portion of the afghan

And then–this is where I really lost it–I realized that I’d made a relatively complex knitting construction and design decision without a second thought, did some quick calculations, sketched up a plan, and went for it. All while I was recovering from an agonizing sewing project. That isn’t right, see, because I am a sewer who learned to knit a while ago. I’m not a knitter who is experimenting with sewing. Something has gone wrong in my brain, and I find it uncomfortable. I think I’ll blame the election. And possibly cut back on caffeine.

Filed in blather,embroidery,knitting,sewing | 4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Peering into the padded room”

  1. gayleon 26 Jan 2012 at 6:49 pm 1

    I’m not afraid to wade into the crazy – I’m usually in the neighborhood, so it’s no extra trouble…
    I think knitting is just so much more forgiving than sewing that it’s easy to just wing it. Fabric doesn’t have the stretch and resilience of knitting. Nor can you change things up midstream. Need an extra inch in knitting? Cast on a few more stitches, or work a couple of increases, or knit a couple more rows. Need an extra inch in sewing? Ya gotta measure and cut and re-measure and cut again (this time remembering to include the seam allowances) and, well, you know.
    And if you totally screw up the knitting? Just rip it out and start over. Would that fixing a sewing screw-up was that easy…

  2. NutmegOwlon 27 Jan 2012 at 7:15 pm 2

    And you wonder why sewing on a button makes me hyperventilate? A needle and thread? It’s as likely as my doing brain surgery, I tell you. Beause I can’t begin to wrap my head around anything you wrote until the wool showed up. All I know is, if I want it and it’s stitched, you get the call.

  3. bullwinkleon 30 Jan 2012 at 9:22 pm 3

    As if your paper piecing example weren’t enough, gayle’s comment would keep me away from sewing for some time. And then NutmegOwl piped up … o.k. I’ll step away from the machine… (I’ve been hemming curtains. Ahem. All 98 inches of them. ugh.)

    Mostly I can blame the cats for any agony.

    p.s. Lovely bag 🙂 and I am so charmed by wool-along afghan, I want to jump into the fray after the fact.

  4. lellaon 01 Feb 2012 at 1:06 pm 4

    That tote is beautiful. I’ve only seen one other similar to it that was made of ties, but with no where near it’s beauty.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply