I’m SO getting kicked out of The Club

As before, my apologies for website downtime last night – I exceeded my bandwidth once again. With the upgrade earlier this month, I hope this is the last time.


Well, I did it. My latest indiscretion is bound to get me kicked out of the Knitter’s Club.

nogiraffeblanket

 

This is the secret sewing project I’ve been mentioning here (“here” being my knitting blog) for a while now, and it is finally done.

Recipient: Jennifer’s baby! Jen reads my blog, and I wanted the gift to be a surprise, so the project was a secret until now. The wee one is set to arrive any moment now, and we do not yet know whether it’s a boy or a girl.

Pattern: it started out as the Baby Giraffe Blanket from Vogue Knitting on the Go – Baby Blankets, but quickly turned around and became its own entity (more about that in the extended entry). The blanket is thick and cushy, and not very large, so I think it’s more suitable for playing, sitting, and laying down, than for wrapping up the baby.

Materials:

On the knitting end: Hand Work Cora, about 3 skeins of each yellow and blue, US 6 needles.

On the sewing end: Wilmington Prints Color Visions cotton for the backing and white flannel for the lining, about 3/4 of a yard of each, 2 packages of bias quilt binding.

Finished size: 24″ wide X 27.5″ long

Click on the extended entry link to catch up on months’ worth of progress. I promise to butcher all sewing terms, make up new ones, and curse yarns with improperly-set twist – it will be a good time ;).


Isn’t it adorable? The pattern had me captivated from the first moment I saw it. It was only a matter of time before the first victim got knocked up and I could knit this cute thing for her and her baby. When Jennifer and her husband decided to not find out the sex of their baby during the pregnancy, I thought that this would be the perfect gift because it’s very gender-neutral.


But sometimes cuteness is only paper deep. When I knit up the first of the giraffe blocks, I had very mixed feelings – to me, it looked nothing like a giraffe! Not to mention it took forever to work all that intarsia and weave in all those ends. I consulted several bloggers for advice, and surprisingly they didn’t have much to say about the resemblance of the giraffe to a stupid alpaca, but fixated on the back of the block, which was very unsightly. “Huh,” I thought, “they’re right! Whether I keep or nix the giraffes, I better line this blanket!”

Needless to say, the giraffes were nixed – I just couldn’t be bothered with all that work considering the results were not pretty (if the giraffes came out cute, I would have slaved away, don’t doubt it for a second!). From that point on, the blanket became known as the “no-longer-giraffe” blanket among my circle of knitblogging friends.


Believe it or not, the pattern specifies knitting that entire blanket in ONE piece. That’s even worse than making it from individual squares! Can you imagine the intarsia hell?!? I decided to knit the blanket in four vertical strips. As a result, my seaming and intarsia-induced madness were minimal, and I invested the saved time and energy in lining up those strips perfectly, each little V opposite its neighbor, especially at the meeting point of four squares.

I put the seamed blankie, as well as some backing fabric I purchased at Fabric Place through the washing machine and the dryer to let everything shrink, stretch, take its shape, whatever.

That’s where the troubles began.

I ended up with perfectly nice cotton fabric for the backing, but the handknit fabric acquired a non-rectangular parallelogram shape (for the non-geometrically inclined, think of a playing card diamond!). After speaking with a few knitters who are also spinners, I’ve learned that if one knits a square, but it comes out as a parallelogram (in my case, this feature revealed itself after washing), the spin of the yarn was not properly set. I was bummed, but not stopped. I immediately started to think of solutions.

As I saw it, there were two options: I could go with the flow – keep the parallelogram shape, and cut up the cotton backing in the same shape, attach the two, and that would be that. OR, I could force the parallelogram handknit to become a rectangle by attaching it to a rectangular-shaped backing.

I opted for the latter. At first I only planned to attach the two along the edges, but basting revealed it would not be enough to force the knit parallelogram to be a rectangle. Plus, there would be this big pocket of air in the middle. So, I decided to, basically, quilt the whole thing, attaching the two three pieces of fabric along the edges of all the squares (somewhere between here and there I stuck another piece of lining fabric between the knit and the backing for extra cushiness, and because I felt the backing was too transparent). Carrie talked me into doing the whole thing by hand. This would be more time-consuming, but supposedly it’s more invisible and accurate than if I were to use a sewing machine.

I made up a grid of how the squares would fit in an ideal situation, and used the red threads you see as guides, since the handknit squares were distorted into parallelograms.

The hand sewing took the longest… months. I think that’s because I’m a novice seamstress and needed to learn how to efficiently flip this entire blanket from one side to the other with every stitch. Eventually I got very good at sewing with both hands – on one side I would push the needle with my left, and on the other, with my right. I’m thinking this is the sewing equivalent of knitting backwards ;).


Attaching the blanket binding was not difficult at all; I think that’s because I used the sewing machine – it only took me a few hours. I even joined two pieces of bias binding all on my own! The right way! (if it’s okay, we will not discuss how many times I joined the two the wrong way before getting it correct). Binding cut on the bias was interesting to work with, and I think given the choice, I wouldn’t use it again because I didn’t need any stretch in the horizontal direction, and it just puckered under the presser foot unnecessarily. But Fabric Place didn’t have other options, and I certainly wasn’t about to make my own :).

The special touch – a custom label ;). Here I used some scrap backing material, sewed it into a tube, turned it right side out with a pencil, then attached a little label just like in the tutorial. I sewed the whole thing into the binding, and I think the mom may use that to hang the blankie on a hook if she wants.

Last, I closed up the mitered corners and the binding seam by hand, and machine-washed and dried the whole assembled thing while praying to the sewing gods – will all my work be enough to allow the rectangular blanket to keep its shape? Or will it go back to its parallelogram ways as soon as the washing was done?

I examined the dried blankie, whispered “thank you!”, popped open a diet Pepsi, and sat there on the couch, perfectly satisfied :). The improperly-set twist was an unwelcome surprise, and the hand stitching to combat it took some time, BUT I love the final product. It is a rectangle. It’s a soft and sturdy surface to put the little one. I. LOVE. IT.

Next time? I would line a blanket in a heartbeat as long as I could do the whole thing using the sewing machine.

Can I make one last plea to remain in The Club? Please? Look, here’s a picture of my sewing machine. I am not kidding when I say I have no idea what this sewing thing is about. Look! The knobs of my machine are marked to tell me which sets the stitch length, and which the stitch width! I’m clueless!

36 thoughts on “I’m SO getting kicked out of The Club

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  1. eunny

    The blanket looks great! I’m just now getting into my first big fiddly-construction sewing project, and was mightily amused and interested by this whole entry. Lucky baby!

  2. Angela

    That blanket looks good! Good choice to leave out the “giraffes.” But I wouldn’t kick you out of the club. You were able to turn something that could have been a knitting disaster into a masterpiece! Way to go!

  3. Ann

    Oh goodness. You’ve out-grumperinaed yourself with how perfect and exacting it is. I love it! (And would hate you, if I weren’t so jealous of your mad sewing and seaming skills.) What a lucky baby and mom!

  4. June

    Nicely executed! I kind of like the funky giraffe. But I actually thought he was a horse. :D

    (Minor technical note – biased stockinette means the yarn was unbalanced. No amount of twist-setting can correct that.)

  5. lanea

    You don’t have to leave the club–you just get to join another one. Congratulations on getting good at quilting with both hands–that’s a rare skill.

  6. Mary

    I, too, liked the giraffe, but don’t blame you in the least for abandoning intarsia-hell for a less-than satisfactory (to you) outcome. And this way, they can use that blanket for years to come (after the kid outgrows cute knitted giraffes) for something else — dresser scarf, wall-hanging, small tablecloth, etc. Great job – impressive as usual!

  7. Colleen

    Wow!

    I don’t really understand the red threads (they don’t look like a grid in the photo), but it seems like you basted the fabric to the knitting in a grid, and then sewed over it.

  8. Carolyn

    Gorgeous! I did turn out fabulous…do not doubt your sewing capabilities. I forgot about your labels. I will be stealing that idea…thanks!

  9. yahaira

    The giraffes look like Trojan Horses, but the blanket is gorgeous. Perfectly neutral without being boring.

    I’m with Purly, can I have some of those white with pink labels as well? We’ll keep you in the club.

  10. joelene

    Well if the knitters kick you out you are always welcome to join the “cool kids club”!

    Seriously though, it turned out awesome. I thinking about sending you an email becasue I couldn’t wait any longer to see what you secret project was! And now I am totally amazed! love it. what lucky baby:)

  11. aliassak

    Delurking to say– Wowsers! That has to be the most gorgeous looking baby blankie I’ve ever seen. And all handmade, with love. There’s nothing more perfect to welcome a new babe. I love it!

  12. Cara

    Another delurker here. That blanket is stunning. You really do beautiful work. Truly inspiring. And if you’re about to get kicked out of the club for your sewing adventures, than I guess I’m in danger too, cause I’m about to sew a lining onto a scarf.

  13. gail

    I think it’s fabulous!! Much better than those weird giraffes! Plus, my 14 year old still uses her baby blanket (although she no longer sucks her thumb) and having giraffes on one’s blanket at age 14 would be terribly embarrassing. The fabulous one you made will last a lifetime.

    About parallelograms without right angles, the same thing happens with fabric. Back in the older days when I was in high school and took sewing in 4H Club, we always had to stretch the length of fabric along the shorter diagonal to make right angles at the corners, and thus, have the lines of woven fabric running straight. It’s hard to explain. But, we always did that before cutting anything out.

    I have assembled knit blankets that had the same parallelogram problem and used the solution that you did. Worked great!

  14. Monica

    Wow, the blanket came out beautifully, esp considering the parallelogramness of it all! Thanks for the label tutorial, will have to try that out.

  15. Kathleen

    WOW! If that blanket gets you kicked out of the club, you need to start your own club. I think many would have given up when they pulled the blanket out of the drier the first time.

  16. Nancy

    This is SO beautiful. I just wouldn’t have thought of it myself. Congratulations! You get to move to president of the club.

  17. Marie

    Your blog is truly inspirational! You are quite gifted, and I enjoy looking at your projects as well as reading your witty comments. Keep up the great work….for all the rest of us “wanna-bes” (spelling??)

  18. Lin Ennis

    Thanks for your specifics and the pictures! I’ve searched for giraffe blankets — my 11 mo. old great-nephew, enamored with giraffes — was just here for three days. He had a little “doggie blanket” — very soft, with a stuffed puppy head on one corner. Seemed simple enough to make (it’s barely larger than a washcloth, yet they call it a “blanket”!), so I started looking for a pattern. Yours was the first handmade giraffe blanket I found. Love your blog, which led me to this site. You have a delightful way with words. Wish you lived in Sedona so we could chat up an afternoon!

  19. Terri

    I was just googling how to sew a knit blanket to a flannel back – SO glad i found your site! Thanks for the good advice and hopefully my project will turn out just as well. Great blanket!

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