Monday, 17 January 2022

Prayer Shawls


When I first heard about prayer shawls, I assumed they were to wrap up in while praying. Having wrapped myself up in a blanket on chilly mornings during my prayer time, that made sense to me. Although, my blanket covered more of me than a shawl would. However, while it is certainly appropriate to pray while wearing a prayer shawl, that is not the intent. No, prayer shawls were meant for people who are facing a challenge, a hardship - whatever that may be - and the maker is to pray for the recipient while they are making the shawl. It's intended to be a reminder that someone is praying for you, and God loves you. 
Several years ago, one of my co-workers told me about a group making prayer shawls at her church. While I never did get the opportunity to join the group, I have kept the idea on "the back burner." I even bought a prayer shawl book. 
So, recently, I decided it was time to make a prayer shawl. I rummaged in my yarn stash to find a large skein of rose-coloured worsted weight (4) yarn. I weighed it on my kitchen scale and found it weighed 14 oz. This would give me an idea of what patterns I could use. Next, I had to find a pattern. I pulled out my prayer shawl book and was disappointed. Out of 11 patterns, one was for a shrug (prayer shrug?) and 5 were for infant (0-24 months) ponchos. I don't know about you, but I think that a poncho is a rather ridiculous garment for a tiny infant. And, while they may work for toddlers, this age is still too young to understand the concept behind a prayer shawl, or prayer poncho, as the case may be. I assume they're meant to be a reminder to the parents of the maker's prayers, and the love of God behind the gift. But I think that an afghan or quilt would be a more practical gift for an infant or toddler and still accomplish the same purpose. Maybe that's just me, but don't expect me to start producing prayer ponchos in the near future. But back to the book: that left only 5 actual shawl patterns, only 2 of which called for worsted weight yarn. The remaining three used 5-weight yarn. And none of them were what I really wanted. 
I decided that I wanted a triangular shawl, and searched the internet. Unfortunately, a lot of them seemed to be the same stitch, row after row. Boring. As I was going to be making it in a solid colour, I wanted something with some stitch/textural interest. 
And then I found Lost in Time. Wow, yes! 
Definitely stitch and textural interest!
The unfortunate thing is that the designer did the original in a lighter weight yarn than what I had to use. But, as she points out, you can use whatever yarn you want, just adjusting the hook size.
As I crocheted, I was not only praying for the recipient, but I was also praying that I would have enough yarn to make it the size I wanted. Since the pattern wasn't made for knitting worsted, I had no idea how much yarn I would need. Another thing about this pattern is that it is a 12-row repeat. You crochet rows 1 through 26, and then repeat rows 15 through 26 to get to the size you want. That's a pretty big repeat - what if I get to row 20, for example, and the shawl is as big as I want it? I could either frog back to the previous row 26, and end up with a shawl that's smaller than I want, or continue on to the next row 26 and end up with one bigger than I want. My final complaint, if indeed it is a complaint, is that printing out the pattern is a horrible waste of paper. There is a lot of unnecessary white space resulting in 15 pages of printout! I think that if the pages had been set up differently, the number of pages could have been reduced by a third or more. Nevertheless, I am still thrilled with this beautiful pattern.
I was weighing my yarn and project during the time I was making it, and determined that I might not have quite enough of the rose yarn to complete. So, I decided to add some cream-coloured yarn, if needed. How much and where I would add it was yet to be determined. I figured that I would do the border in cream, but wanted to finish the main body of the shawl with the last row in rose. When I got to the last 3 rows, I weighed my yarn before and after row 24. As the last three rows are very similar, I wanted to know how much yarn to complete one of these rows. At the end of round 24, I knew that I did not have enough of the rose to complete both rows 25 and 26, and switched to the cream for round 25. I switched back to the rose for row 26, but after completing one side, I weighed the yarn again and knew that I could not complete the row in that yarn. Frogging back, I carried the cream through the rose stitches to complete the popcorns in this row in cream, with the main part of the row in rose (that wasn't easy, by the way). Once I completed row 26, the shawl measured 62" across the long side and I decided not to add the border, as it was plenty wide enough. 
I'm going to share my data for anyone that might like to do this pattern in knitting worsted:
  • Hook used - 5.00 mm/G
  • Type of yarn - knitting worsted/4 (sorry, no brand as label was removed)
  • Amount of yarn - 431 g/15.2 oz. (remember this amount includes the cream that was carried through row 26, but no border)
  • Finished size - 62" across and 30" deep
I seldom use the same pattern twice, but don't be surprised if I use this one again as it is just so pretty. Especially since I now know how much yarn I can expect to use. Meanwhile, in my searching for patterns, I realized that I have a book of shawl patterns on my Kindle. Most (if not all) of them can also be found online. From this book, my next project is the Summer Morning Shawl
It reminds me of the virus shawl, which I completed in 2016. (You can see a picture of my virus shawl in the post here). I wasn't planning on starting another shawl, but I tried this yarn to see if it could work as the accent colour in the Lost in Time shawl instead of the cream and ended up with a pile of yarn vomit. I didn't want to put it back in the stash like that, so decided to just start a new project with it. Only 10 oz of this yarn, but the pattern is pretty lacy, so hopefully will have enough to make it as big as I want it. Again, this pattern is not done in knitting worsted, so I will just have to try it and see. 
Now, I need to get back to work on some of my quilting WIPs. 
I finally started Forever in My Heart, a quilt that I designed and is long overdue. 

Sunday, 9 January 2022

2021 Crafting Year in Review

A look back at what I accomplished craft-wise in 2021. 

some hot pot holders;

Damian's Play Quilt;
I never did blog about this one and never even got to take a picture of it. I finished it just before my daughter came to visit, so she took this picture for me after taking the quilt home. This is on her double bed (you can see her Maple Leaf quilt peeking out from underneath), but it was made for Damian's twin. When Damian "graduated" from his crib to a twin bed, we bought him one that was fairly low to the floor so he wouldn't get seriouslly hurt should he fall out. The Dinosaur Days quilt that I made him previously was actually too wide for his bed, so I made this one to fit his bed better without dragging on the floor. 
Some dishcloths;
and dishcloth bouquets;

Easter Baskets;
a bowl cozy;
with a matching mug rug;
Gone Golfing;
a quilted postcard;
more bowl cozies;
Work Zone;
a flannel quilt to be the floor in the card table tent;
Farm Friendship;
The Solid Rock;
Home on the Farm;
Christmas Tree Skirt (cat not included);
Circles Throw;
Date and Weather wallhanging;
Leah's Ladder;
Heat Wave;
Puppies for Christmas tablerunner and placemat set;
San Diego Sunset;
Sunrise in the Serengeti;
Ribbons and Stars;
a gift basket containing two dishcloths and two hot pot holders;
Savvy Ruana
I Want That Bag;
Soap Bags;
Spa/Bath Accessories;
Christmas Hand Towels;
Charm Pack Table Runner;
Baby Alter Ego II;
Blast Off;
more spa accessories with gift baskets;
and Plum Perfect. 
That's it: 17 quilts, 2 afghans and various smaller projects. 
Please excuse the feet in many of the pictures. I tried to edit them out in Google Photos, but for whatever reason, the edited pictures couldn't be shared to my blog. 

Friday, 31 December 2021

Finishing Up a Year of Crafts

I took some vacation time and am off work this week and I'm really glad I am. We're in the middle of a severe cold spell, with the temperature going down to the -40s Monday night and Tuesday (and even colder with the wind chill factor). Very happy to not have to commute to work in that kind of cold. I've been mostly just hunkering down at home, catching up on some crafting. Initially, my goals were a little different, but then I switched to alternate WIPs/UFOs to complete. 

I started this table runner fairly early in my renewed quilting journey (2013-ish), 

but other projects took priority and it sat as just a top for several years. Earlier this year, I finally took it out again and quilted it on the longarm. Then, because it still wasn't a priority, and because I don't really like binding, it sat again. I finally bound it this week and put it on my dining room table. 
The next binding project was Baby Alter Ego II.

You may remember my other Baby Alter Ego. I actually started this one first and planned it for a baby girl, but again it got put on the back burner and disappeared for a few years during and post renovations to my studio. Meanwhile, I needed a boy's quilt and made the other one and gifted it. This one finally resurfaced and eventually I decided I needed to finish it. The borders were completed and it was quilted,  but joined the binding pile because I didn't have a recipient for it in mind. 
My goal is actually to assemble a small stash of baby quilts so that I will be somewhat prepared should my friends experience a baby boom again (was it 5 or 6 baby quilts that I completed in a year?). The next one for binding was Blast Off.

I made the quilt top earlier this year and had quilted it. But the binding is finally on and both Blast Off and Baby Alter Ego II joined Work Zone in my stash of baby quilts. 
I completed Work Zone earlier in the year, but I never got around to blogging about it. I think I might have mentioned before that I decided that I really don't like Baby Alter Ego. It's just too scrappy for my tastes, with no real rhythm to it. Both Work Zone and Blast Off are variations of my Quick and Easy Baby Quilt, and even though they are scrappy, also being made from layer cakes, they don't just look like fabric vomit, and I much prefer them over Baby Alter Ego. 
Now, before introducing the next project, I'm going to digress slightly to comment on pre-cuts. I might have mentioned this previously, but I have come to the conclusion that I'm really not that fond of pre-cuts. First of all, they're not cheap. Charm packs are $18, layer cakes and jelly rolls are $65, and fat quarters are running at least $5 each (all prices Canadian). The second point is that they are really not all that convenient. Pre-cuts, to me, are only really convenient if you are actually going to use that size and shape. Jelly rolls are probably the most convenient because you often use the full width and length, but having to cut down 10" squares to 9-1/2" (or whatever) is really not convenient. Or chopping up a fat quarter to use in a quilt, leaving huge scraps. Plus, what am I going to do with that 1/2" strip of fabric? Or those odd shaped scraps from a fat quarter. It's just going to waste. And I hate wasting fabric. And I've done enough pre-cut patterns now to know that using yardage for a lot of these patterns would be a lot more convenient and less wasteful. Yes, my Quick and Easy Baby Quilt is a good use of layer cakes, but most patterns for pre-cuts are not like that. I personally cut my fabric to size and seldom trim my blocks. They might not be perfect, but they're good enough. I'm not entering my quilts in a juried quilt show. So, I really don't choose to waste my time and fabric trimming down pre-cuts. I will share a couple of examples from my experience. Moonstruck was one which used 6" pre-cut strips. I don't even think those are available any more, and probably because they were so totally useless. I don't know if there was even a single pattern in the book that utilized the entire width of the strip. The second example is Exploring Space, where I ended up trimming 168 HSTs for one baby quilt! As I stated in that post, "I think I would have been much better off starting with the exact size squares I needed to make the Easy 8 HSTs and not have to trim each individual one. So, using a layer cake was kind of pointless. And that made this quilt tedious instead of quick and fun." Now I'd like to point out that my local quilt shop cuts up overstock, old stock, whatever, into metres and half-metres. And that is a pre-cut that I really do find useful. They sell the metres for $8 each and the half-metres for $4 each. And that's a price I can really get excited about because quilting fabric currently averages at least $20/metre. A half-metre of fabric for less than a fat quarter! And I have put many metres and half-metres to good use. Where the Charming Roses Bloom, for example, was made up mostly from these pre-cut metres. So, that brings me back to the next quilt. When I saw this MSQC tutorial, 
featuring 3-yard quilts, it got my attention. I could easily pick up 3 metres of fabric that would look good together from the pre-cut metres at my local quilt shop. And that's what I did. 
This is Plum Perfect, made from pre-cut metres from my local quilt shop. I had to alternate fabrics for the binding because there was not enough of one fabric left to do a full double fold binding. And, of course, I had to add backing and batting, and voilĂ , a quilt big enough for a small throw/lap/baby quilt, about 43" x 60". And over all, a much more coordinated look than the ones above made with layer cakes. Leah's Ladder, which you can see in this post, is also a 3-yard quilt, made with pre-cut metres from my LQS. I think I'm hooked and I want to get all of the 3-yard quilt books by Donna Robertson.


They're in my Amazon wishlist. So if anyone is looking for an idea for a gift for me... (By the way, if you purchase from this link, I get a % of the sale, but no one has ever done that, so I'm not going to get too excited). 
Anyway, I had the quilt top done for Plum Perfect earlier this year. The backing fabric was purchased, but that's as far as I got. Until this week. I stitched the backing together, and quilted and bound it. And I have one more quilt for my baby quilt stash. I think that's enough baby quilts for now and hopefully, I'll be ready for the next baby boom. 
And that's it for quilt finishes for 2021. I have, however been playing around with gift baskets. One of my friends suggested that the bowl cozy would make a good gift basket. So I made one up, using some fusible interfacing and regular batting instead of Wrap'n'Zap, and the fabric is leftovers from a layer cake. 
Yes, actually, it would make a nice gift basket, just not for this oversized bath pouf if I wanted to include anything else. I wanted to make a gift basket for my niece and include a floral facecloth and an exfoliating scrubby
And so this basket worked much better. 
Because I wanted to use some leftover backing fabric from Plum Perfect, and it was only 16" wide, I used 16" squares of fabric instead of 18", and made the darts 3", and it turned out a great size. I still want to squish a couple more items in there. It's just been too cold to go to the store to buy them. 
Did you notice how I've rolled up the facecloth to look like a flower. You can do that with just about any size or shape of facecloth/dishcloth if you squish it together right and stuff it in a cup or mug: square, 
or even heart-shaped. 
 I have a super abundance of cotton yarn, much of it left over from the Circles Throw. So I have been thinking of making spa/bath gift baskets for Valentine's Day. 
This heart-shaped washcloth (from A Year of Dishcloths, by Maggie Weldon) and exfoliator are a much better fit for the "bowl cozy" basket. By the way, it took me two hours to make that washcloth, as it did the bath pouf in this picture below. I think I'm going to look for a different heart-shaped washcloth pattern that will be less labour-intensive. 
I do not find Red Heart Scrubby yarn or any of its derivatives easy to work with, and from now on I will stick to using it to edge dishcloths and making the small exfoliators in the previous picture. 
I only had part of a small skein of the yarn I used in the washcloth, so finished it with Bernat Handicrafter Holidays Sparkle. I love bling, but I don't think including a yarn with metallic content in a washcloth was a good idea. Wash and exfoliate at the same time... 
I guess that's it - those are my finishes for year end. It will be sundown soon and the Sabbath will commence - more important to me than New Year's Eve. So, I'm going to put my craft stuff away for now, and share with you a New Year's reading from a devotional book called Our High Calling by Ellen G. White.