Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mattress stitch, kitchner, and all seams invisible...

It's the simple things that make me happy. This week, it was an unexpected revelation with sewing seams.

Finishing is not really my strong suit. I have been able to do a serviceable seam, but not always a pretty one on the first try. There is often unravelling, ripping, restitching (and sometimes cursing) before the seam comes into being. I also have several books with great illustrations that seem to put the process just out of my grasp.

This weekend, I started finishing the vest/steek experiment. Its to have an I-cord border around the neck, bottom, and either side of the center opening. Before that could get started, I had to seam the shoulders.

I usually match right sides together and seam from the wrong side of the work. It was not working so well for this piece. The variegated yarn was all wrong in the seam and looked like the good Dr. Frankie (see here) had made a go of it. It would just be easier if I could see what I was doing a little better. So, I put the pins lower in the work and opened up the seam so that I could see where I was stitching. It also turned out that I could see how the seaming was supposed to duplicate the knit stitches on either side of the work. Perfect little V's all in a row. Huzzah! Eureka! Woohoo!

After thinking about it some more, it seems like I could do this with just about any seam. Why not even Kitchner toes? They are hidden by a shoe most of the time, but the perfectionist in me wants to make them pretty all the same.

This idea has me really amped up -- so much so that there is a sweater that may achieve finishing in the near future. It has spent a long time in project purgatory because I got to the point that I didn't really know what to do next. And once I did figure it out, I didn't want to deal with it. When it's finished, it will free up a lot of space in the pending basket. And I can buy more yarn. That sounds like motivation enough.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Steek it, Sister!!!

You know that vest I have been working on? The mysterious one lurking in my pending basket that I have yet to post pictures on? Progress has been made! Last night, I summoned up my courage, took scissors in hand, and cut through stitches I had labored over for hours. Guess what? IT WORKED! I still have a vest -- not a ravelly pile of tear-dampened string!

To be fair, it's still a bit rough. There are shoulder seams to make and a border to smooth out the cut edges. But it is still a vest!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Healin' on the needles

Knitting is getting praise from some sources with more "authorit-tye". Check out this excerpt from the latest Creative Knitting with Bobbie Matela e-mail (emphasis added):
When things are not going well, or we are anticipating a life changing event, many of us turn to our knitting. This may be because knitting makes us feel a bit calmer, or the accomplishment of making a beautiful, useful knitted item is a boost to our ego, making us feel a little more in control. Scientific research from the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard now confirms this experience. The Lion Brand Yarn company released the institute's findings which I am happy to pass on to you.
It turns out that the repetitive actions needed for knitting and crochet can bring the mind and body to a state called a "relaxation response" that is quite similar to what people experience with techniques such as repetitive prayer, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and other relaxation disciplines. Research at the Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute has found that when an individual is knitting her heart rate can drop 11 beats a minute and her blood pressure drops as well. These results can have significant health benefits for people who knit and crochet.
In the U.S. many institutions are taking advantage of these health benefits by incorporating knitting and crochet into the activities that they provide. Gilda's Clubs, which offer family cancer support in locations across the U.S., now provide knitting to help with the emotional upheaval of dealing with cancer. At the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, knitting is used to lower stress for its clients. Children and their parents are seeing the benefits of knitting and crochet as well. Grade schools from Oregon to New Jersey have incorporated knitting into their curriculum, not only for the health benefits, but to help build creativity and improve math skills.
"Knitting benefits an individual's emotional and physical health. Knitting can reduce stress in an individual who is trying to manage the severity of their chronic illness. It can also help reduce stress in individuals who lead very hectic lifestyles," said Gary Scholar, Health & Wellness Consultant to the employees of the American Hospital Association.
"I have incorporated knitting classes in my Health & Wellness programs for employees because of the health benefits. I would like to see implemented at children's hospitals a program to teach sick children how to knit so they have something to keep their minds occupied and be proud of what they have made if they are in the hospital for an extended time."
I think you'll agree with me how nice it is to hear that something so enjoyable is also good for our health! I have also decided that from now on I will pick up my knitting whenever I'm feeling a little anxious or need to solve a problem.

Preach it! Now I can tell my husband that stash purchases are actually keeping me healthy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Frankenstein's knit bag

Maybe I should save this for the holiday next month (although I hope to have my little seamstress job done in time to post for that), but I have to share it somewhere now.

I looked into the 'in-progress' bag to assess damage and the progress to the end of a few things that have been hanging around as I was looking for a 'takealong' project for an upcoming long car ride. It was like being in Frankenstein's lab. There were sleeves for the little dress (still unattached), the back of a summer tank (waiting for the front), a test swatch for a winter sweater, a test swatch for a light fall/spring sweater, and the steek-needin' vest. All reasonably close to completion and still in pieces. NONE of them appealed to me at the moment.

I think I will end up taking the little dress because 1) there is no pattern so that is one less thing to carry around, 2) it is close enough to finished that I will probably complete it on the ride, and 3) it will let me put off the steek for another day.

The mad-scientist in me was tempted to make something crazy from the sleeves and a few of the swatches. Then, run the whole thing up on the roof during the lightning storm and metal needles. ITS ALIVE! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!