Friday, August 30, 2013

Fiber Feature: Protein Fibers... and the Great American Aran Afghan KAL!

Haymarket in Whitewater
In last week's blog while telling you about the Lorna's Laces contest I talked a little about Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) wool as an introduction to protein fibers. Lorna's Laces Haymarket and 6 other yarns that we carry contain BFL specifically.

Yarns made from protein fibers are probably the most commonly used fibers by knitters in North America and Great Britain. Protein fibers are fibers harvested from animals, usually by shearing or plucking their coats. Sheep of course are what most people think of when they think of animals that give us fiber but there are many animals that humans have used for their fiber throughout the ages.

Most of the animals from which we obtain fiber have been domesticated for centuries and sometimes bred for certain characteristics. For instance; good muscling, wool/coat qualities, hardiness and docility. Many of the characteristics that we humans find desirable in a domestic animal are juvenile traits which tends to make an animal unsuited to life in the wild. Your typical sheep, for example, would not survive in the wild because it has been breed to continue to grow its softer undercoat and must be sheared periodically. Wild sheep shed this softer undercoat once or twice a year.  When left unshorn, a woolly, domestic sheep will eventually not be able to move and will eventually die.

Here are some of the animals from which fibers can be obtained:

There are hundreds of different sheep breeds the world over that produce all types of wool. Sheep are one of the oldest domesticated animals. I'll talk about specific breeds in various up coming posts but if you want to read about some you can at Sheep 101

Just like sheep, goats have been domesticated for thousands of years and some are also dependent on humans because of the need to be sheared. The two main varieties of fiber goats are: Angora goats originated in the Ankara region of Turkey and yield mohair and Cashmere which yields cashmere fiber. Other common types of goats used for fiber are Cashgora (a cross of cashmere and angora) and Pashmina which is a breed of goat from high in the Himalayas of Nepal, Pakistan and Northern India from which a very fine fiber is harvested.

Angora rabbits which been breed by humans for centuries are also from the Ankara region of Turkey and yield angora.
Alpaca (they come in two types)
     -huacaya (regular type of alpaca)
     -suri (these have long, silky coats that look a bit like dreadlocks)
Vicuna (likely wild ancestor of alpacas)
Guanaco (wild ancestor of llamas)

Various other animals:
Muskox - this is where Qiviut comes from
Brush tail possum

Please let me know if I've missed an animal!  Fiber enthusiasts can be a creative lot, spinners in particular. I've known spinners to try to spin just about anything, including dryer lint!

Next week I'll spotlight one of these fibers.

Now to change gears a bit. It looks like we have quite a few people joining me to knit The Great American Aran Afghan! Anyone is welcome to join in, even if you've already started the afghan and just want a little company during your project. You can work at your own pace and knit as many or as few of the squares as you like. Beginners, don't be bashful, this is a great way to expand your skill without a big commitment.  Try the easier squares first, then try one that pushes you a little, you'll be surprised how much you improve.  Each square is knit one stitch at a time, one row at a time just like any other project.  Everything is composed of knits, purls, yarn overs, knitting 2 together, SSK, and some Make 1s, along with changing the order in which you knit stitches.  There is plenty of help if you join our Ravelry group thread. You can also come into the shop or email me your questions.

So far I've started with the square on page 22 of the book and I'll choose another square soon for September's choices.  So far, I've only had time to work a couple of inches of mine but the resulting fabirc is so soft and squooshy!  I'm using the new Cascade Longwood, in case you were wondering. :)

So come join us and we'll make this beautiful afghan together!

One little tidbit of good news if you're visiting us in Reno, the city has put up a new street sign at the intersection of McCarran and Capital Blvd!!!  This should make it easier to find the street where we are located. We love to meet our out-of-town customers and look forward to showing you around on your next visit!

Have fun, don't stress and enjoy!  I'm here to help as are many of our fellow knitters on Ravelry!

Please send your questions to askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Block of the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long from Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich.

It's the first week of the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long and we are raring to go! The first block design will be from Jimmy Beans Wool's very own Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich.

All About Kristen

Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich lives in Reno, NV and works on the Customer Engagement team at Jimmy Beans Wool where her tasks include social media (Ravelry & Pinterest, yay!) and coordinating the blog, co-writing the bi-monthly newsletters, and designing knitting, sewing and crochet patterns among various other fun tasks. Outside of work, she is the designer behind Marinade Designs (, her own line of knitting patterns that she is hoping to expand in the coming year. When she's not knitting or sewing her own clothes, she is working in her garden, tending to her chickens, cooking up delicious food, doing yoga, or hiking and backpacking with her husband and their feisty little mutt Wallace. Feel free to check out all of Kristen’s designs on Ravelry:

Kristen and Sew Red

Since she has such a strong background in knitting and designing knitwear, you may be asking yourself how Kristen got involved with Sew Red in the first place. After publishing her design in Knit Red when that book came out, Kristen began to dabble in sewing her own clothes. Even though her mom is a professional level seamstress, Kristen never got too much into sewing when she was younger. She had the knitting bug, for sure! However, when Jimmy Beans was looking for contributors to Sew Red, she decided to take a stab at a sewn design and create something simple that a beginner sewist like herself could make. The result is a really fun garment that is exactly that!

Why Kristen Chose to be Part of the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long

When we asked her to participate in the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long, Kristen was a bit hesitant. After all, she designs mostly garments and so is more of a sewist rather than a traditional quilter. She agreed to give it a go, and began brainstorming what kind of a block she'd like to do.

Kristen has been on a chevron kick lately and wanted to bring her favorite graphic to the Sew Red quilt. Unfortunately, she was having a mental block for how to do the chevrons and so switched to designing another, easier block. In the course of figuring out this easier one, the light bulb went off for her and she figured out how to do the smaller scale chevrons she wanted in the first place. So, we'll have two blocks from Kristen throughout the course of the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long!

Kristen's Block

We're excited to kick off the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long  with one of Kristen's blocks because it's a nice easy introduction to get us in the swing of things. Also, since it's a fairly easy block, you can do it again and again in place of future blocks that might be out of your comfort zone!

Without further ado, follow the link to Kristen's blog, Marinade Designs, to get the instructions and get started!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fall is upon us...

I know it's not quite September yet and in many places summer is still in full swing, but I can't help but notice the slight bite that the morning air has had of late which means the warm season is winding down. As a knitter, I always get so excited for fall. It's a season of wearing layers and a time to retrieve my hand-knits from their summer home in the cedar chest. A time to think about what new knits I want for the coming winter, and getting excited for tea and knitting beside the fire. I'm not going to lie, I absolutely love fall and winter, and even if it means shorter, darker days, I relish the excuse to stay inside, cook delicious comfort foods and knit to my heart's content. I guess I am a bit of a homebody that way.

There are lots of other things I love about fall besides more knitting time (I'm not really that single- minded, I swear.) I love the harvest and prepping my spoils for the winter. This year I'm particularly excited about my first ever crop of sunchokes and fingerling potatoes. I'll also be putting in my cool-weather crops soon like root veggies, onions, and broccoli, yum!

Fall foods are my absolute favorite. Soups, stews, and home-baked bread. Hard squash in particular is my favorite food on the planet--butternut, acorn, delicata (prepared just like this), pumpkin, blue hubbard, kobacha, you name it, I'll eat it. In fact, lately I've been craving one of my favorite dishes, Pumpkin or Squash Gnocchi with a Sage and Butter sauce. I actually blogged my recipe for this about three years ago on Marinade Designs. (Please forgive my awful photography if you do choose to check it out.) I'll probably have to break down this week and make this sweet potato version I just found on Pinterest. (Pinterest is seriously the BEST for finding new recipes!)

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Bacon, Balsalmic, and Apples
Doesn't that look and sound amazing? I'll let you know how it is. :) By the way, feel free to follow the Jimmy Beans Wool Boards on Pinterest. I pin all kinds of food inspiration and plenty of other stuff too.

But seriously though, let's get back to knitting, shall we? With the coolness in the mornings around here as my inspiration, I've been planning out my winter knitting for the season, and the list keeps getting longer and longer! I have a couple of items I want to finish up from last year, and a few new projects to undertake. First, I'll start with the WIPs I want to finish:

1) The Corinne Cardiagn (FREE from Knitty) in Tosh DK- Spectrum. I'm about halfway done with this project and am on a mission to finish it soon. It's fantastically easy knitting with basic short rows and seamless construction. Plus, it's all garter stitch! LOVE!

2) Jared Flood's Smokin' Jacket from Debbie Stoller's Son of Stitch and Bitch book for my hubby in Katmandu Chunky Tweed from the Queensland Collection. I think this yarn is discontinued, or at least the color I have is, as I got it on sale last year sometime. My hubby and I will have been married for three years in September and I have yet to make him a sweater! I absolutely have to finish this in time for Christmas. No matter what! I keep promising him a sweater and it's about dang time I finish one. (To be fair, I was knitting him a sweater right after we got married, which I got about 75% complete before I realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn to finish the project. A novice mistake, I know, but I accidentally calculated the yarn for a too-small size to begin with. C'est la vie!)


3) Vitamin D Cardigan in Tosh Pashmina- Ink. I'm not nearly as far along with this project as the others above, but I plan to work on this as much as I can this winter and get it finished by the spring. It's one of those cardigans that can be worn year-round, so for some reason I'm not feeling the rush with this one as much, other than I really want to wear it. It's such a great pattern design and I am enjoying the leisurely stroll.

Vitamin D
I started all three of these projects last winter/spring and I am determined to finish them in the next 6-8 months. When you design as much as I do, it can be tough to squeeze in personal knitting but I just have to make some time for these, don't you think?

Next up, we have the lovely new projects I want to start. There are so many great new patterns out there, and I just keep falling in love every day with something different. This time, it's winter accessories that has me enamored. Here is what's on my "wishlist."

1) Austin Boot Cuffs and Mitts by Pam Powers. Holy cuteness! I am a big time boot wearer I can already imagine myself sporting these all winter long. I need some in cream, and gray, and blue, and...well, you get the picture.

Boot Cuffs
2) Moonkoosa Boots. I've already made the short booties and plan on getting some serious wear out of those this winter, but I want to make a tall pair as well and already have yarn set aside for them. I've chosen the Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Deep Charcoal which I think will be great for not showing a lot of dirt. I love this pattern. It was a surprisingly quick knit too!

Moonkoosa Boots

3) Ysolda's latest pullover design, the gorgeous icelandic "Strokkur" sweater is absolutely gorgeous and would totally fill a gap I have in my winter sweater wardrobe. Picking out yarn for this beauty would be fun but so tough. So many color and yarn options!


4) The Nepal Wrap by Kate Davies from Rowan Knitting Magazine #54 looks both simple and stunning. I love the tassels on the end and the fact that it wraps fully round your torso. It seems like the perfect winter warmer accessory and a great excuse to knit with the yummy Rowan Fine Tweed.
Nepal Wrap

5) Joji Locatelli's "Tourist Sweater" is totally adorable and uses my all-time favorite yarn, Malabrigo Worsted Merino. I'm tempted to cast on for this right away, but I think I'll refrain until I've finished one of the WIP's listed above. That will give me plenty of time to day dream about which of Malabrigo's many gorgeous colors I want to use. :)

Tourist Sweater
So that is my list...what is on yours? I would LOVE to hear what you are planning to make to wear for the cooler months ahead. Feel free to post a comment and link to the pattern on Ravelry to share with the rest of us! I am so excited to see what is getting YOU excited for tea and knitting by the fire this coming fall. Or, if you don't have your knitting list together yet (I don't blame you, it's still pretty warm out), tell me your favorite Fall recipe. Bonus points if it uses squash! Yum!!!

Happy knitting (and all other crafty goodness),

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lorna's Laces Contest, Haymarket, and The Great American Aran KAL

 Last week, I briefly mentioned that Lorna's Laces is running a contest.  To fill you in more on this fantastic opportunity to win free yarn I thought I would tell you a bit more.  First off, let me congratulate Lorna's Laces for having a gorgeous sweater designed by Deborah Newton and knit up in their new Haymarket yarn make to the cover of the new Fall 2013 Vogue Knitting!!!

Isn't it just stunning!!!

This colorway is 51n Island Blue and that magnificent interlaced cable up the front is applied.  So all kinds of new fun with this project! Also, we just ordered the Island Blue color (it should be here shortly) AND we've created a kit for this sweater as well so you can get started right away!!!

There are two chances to win so here's the specifics in their own words right from the Lorna's Laces blog:

"I'll give the  first person who sends me a photo of their finished Applied Cable Fisherman's Rib Top  (that's a mouthful) up to a sweater's worth of yarn for their next project. And the first person who comes up to me at Rhinebeck wearing one will get the same." 

So get those needles moving!  Rhinebeck (aka New York State Sheep & Wool Festival and it's held in Rhinebeck NY, but most attendees just call it Rhinebeck) is only 2 months from now!!!

Speaking of Haymarket, this gives me a great opportunity to start talking about some of the wool fibers commonly found in yarn shops!  What is Haymarket?  It is the latest yarn base from Lorna's Laces.  It is a single spun strand of 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool, 215 yd/100g, dyed up in the wonderful Lorna's colorways!  Now, this one is NOT superwash so handwash and lay flat to dry or dry clean.

You've probably started to see a number of yarns that are made from Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) and are wondering what a Bluefaced Leicester is!  Well it is a breed of sheep, originally from Northumberland County, England.  This is in the far north, on the Scottish border.  It is a large, handsome sheep with no wool on it's face and neck and a very roman nose.  The skin under the short hairs of the face is blue, this is where the blue faced part comes in.  It is a multipurpose breed in what growers call the Longwool breed category.  Multipurpose means it is an animal used for food, fiber, and for it's crossbreeding suitability to maintain hybrid vigor in the offspring.

The fleece of the Bluefaced Leicester has a staple length of 3- 6” (staple length means the length of the wool), a fleece weight of 3 to 6 lbs., and a fiber diameter of 56s – 60s count, or 24-28 microns, creating high quality lustrous yarns with beautiful drape. (I'll go into spinning counts and microns in a future post.)  Suffice it say at this point that this wool is not quite as fine and soft as merino wool but still soft enough for sweaters, hats and scarves.  It will also be slightly more resistant to felting than merino wool but should still felt beautifully. The fiber also take dye very well giving some very vibrant tones. As a spinning fiber it is an excellent choice for a beginner.  If you want to find out more about this breed of sheep you can go to the Bluefaced Leicesters Breeder Association for more details.

Haymarket would be another excellent yarn to use for your Great American Aran Afghan too! Don't forget, we're starting our first square next week and everyone online or local is welcome to join!  Feel free to begin posting in the Ravelry thread for this KAL too. 

Here is the info for the first square again: we will start with the square on page 22 of the book, designed by Carol Adams.

Supplies need will be:

-The Great American Aran Afghan book
-1 hank of worsted weight yarn
-Size US 6 (4mm) straight or 24" circular needle
-Cable needle
-stitch markers are helpful but not required

Gauge for all squares will average 19 st to 4" (10 cm) over stockinette on size US 7 (4.5 mm) needles.

When the owners of Cascade yarns were visiting us last week we realized that Cascade Cloud would also be an awesome choice for this project.  These chain construction of this wool & alpaca yarn will give fantastic stitch definition!  I've decided I'll do mine from the new Cascade Longwood!

Sunday, August 25th will be the first class in the local shop but I'm available by email whenever you need help or get stuck.  Just send an email to askTerry (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com.

It's cable mania time!!! ;D

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Announcing the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long!

Now that the Royal Baby Quilt Sew-a-long has wrapped up, we are excited to announce a project that we've had in the works for quite some time: a Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long!

Jimmy Beans Wool is hosting a "block of the month" style Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long in which the finished product is a red-themed quilt to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Your favorite designers from the Sew Red book will will be submitting block designs of different shapes and sizes, and we'll be releasing block instructions every few weeks. Since the blocks won't all have the exact same dimensions, quilters who participate in this sew-a-long will likely choose to assemble them in different configurations. This is where the mystery comes in… no one will know what the finished quilt will look like until the very end!

Every few weeks from now through April 2014, we will release the fabric requirements and the instructions for a block in the quilt. Some are really easy and a few are more advanced, with most blocks falling in the intermediate skill range. So, no matter your skill level, there are blocks for you! If you don't feel up to the task of the more advanced blocks, you can always repeat some of the easy ones so you still get a good sized quilt!
Kristen's cowl design from Sew Red

We will be kicking off the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long next week with a block from Jimmy Beans' own Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich on her personal blog-- Marinade Designs. But don't worry! We'll be sure to post links to her blog (and each of the others) here as well.  Stayed tuned for blocks from Kay Whitt of Serendipity Studio, the talented sisters Barb and Mary from Me and My Sister, Amy ButlerDavid Butler (also known as Parson Gray), Kaari Meng of French General, SUEDE (of Project Runway fame), and many more! (We don't want to spoil the surprise!)

Once the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long ends in April 2014, we will assemble our quilt from the original blocks from the designers themselves. At this time, we will also start to accept donated, finished quilts from sew-a-long participants (that's you!). If you choose to donate your finished quilt to our cause, it will go on tour with our master quilt throughout the U.S. and will be featured at various quilt shows from June 2014 through February 2015. Once the quilt have finished touring the country and raising heart-disease awareness, they will be donated to a hospital or charity focusing on heart disease, and our master quilt will be auctioned off.

We sincerely hope you'll join us in crafting to help raise awareness of the number one killer of women in the U.S., heart disease, and the Stitch Red campaign!

Did you know that 1 in 4 American women have heart disease? Join us in "Sticking it to Heart Disease!" by checking out our Stitch Red campaign!! You could save a life, maybe even yours!

Monday, August 19, 2013

FO's from the Royal Baby KAL/CAL!

Some folks have posted their Royal Baby Blanket FOs over in the JBW Ravelry Group thread and they looked so great I just had to share them here (with their permission, of course.)

First up we have diabro's gorgeous blanket using Universal Yarn's Classic Shades. I just love how her blanket turned out, and so does her little friend, Brad. :)

 Next we have traceyloanne's blanket. She made hers to give away in memory of a loved one, and this was an extra special gift. I think it turned out just beautifully and I love her fun colors!

Katy32's blanket was made for her sister's new baby and she finished it just in the nick of time. Seriously! That little one looks super cozy in her new auntie made blankie! Plus, I love how Katy used up a bunch of Lorna's Shepherd Worsted in her stash. Great colors!

Lastly, we have tmoran's exceptionally royal baby blanket. She subbed out a few of the squares, for squares of her own including those great crown motifs! Her blanket is entirely knit too. What fun!

Thanks everyone for letting me show off your fabulous blankets here. If you have a Royal Baby Blanket FO that you'd like to share, be sure to check out our Royal Baby Blanket FO Thread on the JBW Ravelry Group and post it on there. Then we can all "ooh" and "ahh" over your lovely creations! Thanks again everyone for participating an we hope to see you all next time!

Happy knitting and crocheting!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cables and Bobbles and Twists... Oh My!


Have you ever wanted to learn to knit how to knit cables, bobbles, twists and knots?  Intimidated to knit a whole afghan? Feeling left out of chances to win a whole sweaters worth of Lorna's Laces yarn by being the first to send Lorna's a photo of your finished applied cable sweater from the cover of the new Fall Vogue Knitting?  I have just the solution for you!  The Great American Aran Afghan Knit-a-long!  This is the perfect project for learning Aran stitches with out committing to large, complicated sweater patterns. Knit all the patterns or just the ones you like!

We will be using the The Great American Aran Afghan book which includes instructions for 24 uniquely designed 12" squares, 20 squares are used for the afghan and 4 are used to make two throw pillows. The plan is to start two squares each month over the next year but of course you are welcome to work at your own pace. Squares will be chosen so that the simpler patterns are done first to build skills and then we'll move on to the more difficult squares. To help those who are learning, we will be offering 2 classes each month in our retail shop to get each square started or for help with problems.  The first class is scheduled for Sunday August 24th from 1:30 - 3:30. Then keep a watch on our classes page for future class dates.

If there is interest we can plan some group knitting times in our shop as well.

One of the best things about working a project like this is that you don't have to buy all the yarn at once!  Each square will utilize about 200 yds of worsted weight yarn so you can purchase 1 or 2 hanks/skeins at a time.  Traditionally, Aran garments are made from unbleached white wool but you may choose any colors or fibers you like.  Dark colors are not recommended as it's too hard to see the cable patterns.  The yarn called for in the book is Plymouth Encore which is a good, budget friendly, gently machine washable 75% acrylic, 25% wool yarn.  I'm going to be recommending Cascade 220, Cascade 220 Superwash and Cascade Longwood for those who want 100% wools.  Other great yarns that could be used are Universal Deluxe Worsted & Deluxe Worsted Superwash, Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash.

The first square we will do is the one on page 22 of the book, designed by Carol Adams. 

Supplies need will be:

The Great American Aran Afghan book
1 hank of worsted weight yarn
Size US 6 (4mm) straight or 24" circular needle
Cable needle
stitch markers are helpful but not required

The book has instruction in both written format and charts so this will also be a great way to learn to read charts!

I hope you'll join us!

(I'm just back from a lovely vacation so next week I'll return to my ongoing discussing on protein fibers)


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Royal Baby KAL/CAL- Putting it all Together

Hi everyone!

We hope by now you've finished your squares and are ready to put everything together. Putting this little knit and crocheted quilt together is so quick! It just took a few hours in one evening (and Kristen crochet's slow, really slow.)

We went with the crocheted method of putting this blanket together for a couple of reasons:

The stack of squares, ready to go!
1) It looks nice and neat across the back of the blanket with your single crochet holding it all together.

2) It goes REALLY fast! Much faster than mattress or whip stitching (in our opinion).

That said, if you have a preferred method, you are more than welcome to use it. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

Here are the steps we recommend for putting your blanket together:

Step 1: Block all of your squares. If you have a steam iron, this is totally the way to go. You are bound to have some squares that are slightly larger than the rest. Block these first really lightly on your ironing board or a towel, and then use pins to block the rest of them to the same size. Kristen steamed the larger ones first, then lay the next one on top and pin it over the one on bottom to use as a template. Steam block this one, then add another layer. Kristen layered 4-5 blocks and then take the top ones off (once they've cooled), leaving one on bottom as the template, then do a few more until they are all done.

Pin all of the squares to the same size.

Step 2: Lay all of the squares out on the floor or a bed. I am not going to specify how to order these. I think you should do what looks good to you. Especially since so many of you used different colors or just knit or crocheted your squares, I think you should be the one to design your blanket. In order to achieve the baby blanket size, you'll need to lay out your blanket 3 squares across by 4 rows of squares down.
Lay all of the squares out so you can see what
the finished quilt will look like.

Step 3: Working in rows of 3, crochet together your squares along the sides being careful to match. If you  would prefer to work a visible contrasting color in between the squares, this would be the time to do that.
Crocheted together, close-up.

Step 4: Once your rows are crocheted together, crochet the long sides of the rows together in the order you prefer. You will have strings on each corner that you can use to match up the corners evenly. This is the bonus to crocheting the quilt together. Again, if you prefer a contrasting border, add it in here.

Finished, back.

Step 5: Once you have all of your rows crocheted together, steam iron the seams so that everything lays flat. Weave in your ends and if desired, crochet or knit a border around the outside.

Finished, front.

For the version pictured, it only took Kristen three hours to put the whole thing together. If you are pressed for time, this is a really great option. The back will still look really neat and tidy. However, if you have a little more time and want to add your own details, that is great too!

We really love the unique and fun look of this blanket. It would make such a fun project for a group of knitters to make for a friend who is expecting or pick your favorite squares and customize it even more. All in all, we hope you are happy with the end result too!

Of course, if you have any questions about these or any directions in the quilt, as always, please let us know!

Also, be sure to check out the Ravelry Group Threads on each of the squares. There are tons of great questions on there as well.

We will post the "official" pattern for this blanket on the Free Patterns page of the JBW website in about a month. In the meantime, enjoy, and happy knitting!

Kristen & Heather  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Royal Baby Quilt SAL Finishing Your Quilt!

It's the final week of the Royal Baby Sew Along!  I hope that you're excited to finish up.  By this point, you should have your quilt top assembled and have the batting of your choice ready to go.

We'll start this week with the last detail of the quilt top: the crown!  The crown is done with bias tape edging over a background fabric, and the points of the crown are done with the shiny scraps of Plymouth's Gold Rush yarn.  To get started, you'll need to download and print out the pdf of the crown outline.  You can find the pdf at the following link:

One of the circle tops is cut off in our pdf, but don't worry: you don't really need the outline for that part!

Once you have the pdf printed, you'll need to cut it out.  You can either cut out the circles at the top of each point of the crown or just lop them off after the crown point; it doesn't matter since that part won't be done with the template anyhow.  You don't need to worry about cutting out the insides of the template right now. 

Take the outline of the crown that you just cut out and lay it on top of the fabric for the crown background.  If you bought a kit from us, the background fabric is a fat quarter of the Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton in Sunshine, a nice bright yellow fit for a crown!  If you didn't purchase a kit from us, you'll need a fat quarter of the fabric of your choosing.  Trace the edges of the crown outline onto the background fabric.  Then, cut it out, but you'll want to leave a 1/4” around the line that you traced when you cut it out.  Don't worry too much about making sure that's its a perfect 1/4” around the edge in all places.  Just don't leave less than ¼”, but as long as you have room to sew, it will be fine! 

Now you have a piece of background fabric in the shape of the crown, but slightly bigger than the outline you printed.  That's because we're going to sew it and flip it inside out so that the edge isn't raw; that extra 1/4” you left around the outside edge will end up as the seam allowance. 

You can do the this next part with either a see through fabric like a muslin or white cotton or with fusible interfacing.  We prefer the fusible interfacing method because we think it's easier, but it's up to you.  If you have scrap transparent fabric handy, go for it!  First lay the crown-shaped background fabric on your work surface, with the right side facing you.   Then lay your transparent fabric or fusible interfacing on top.  If you're using fusible interfacing, you'll want the sticky side facing down.  If you're using plain old fabric, it doesn't really matter if it's right side facing or not since you won't see it anyway!

The reason we're using transparent fabric or fusible interfacing is that you should still be able to see the line of the crown shape that you traced earlier through the fabric that's on top.   If you can't see it, take the time to trace it darker and then put your layers back together.  Now sew the transparent fabric/fusible interfacing and the crown background together along that traced line.  Trim the excess transparent fabric/fusible interfacing away from the sewn edge, still leaving about 1/4” of fabric.

Next, we're going to cut a slit into the transparent fabric/fusible interfacing ONLY so that you can flip the crown right side out.   Make sure that you only cut into the fusible/fabric.  You can pinch it to pull it up from the background fabric if you need before making the slit.  Then, turn the crown right-side out.  You might use an awl or crease turner to get all the edges turned out.  

If you used scrap, transparent fabric, you'll need to position the crown so that it's centered over the point where all Block D blocks come together, pin it down and then top stitch around the edge just like you would do for a raw edge applique. 

If you used fusible interfacing, all you need to do is position the crown as above, iron it down, and then top stitch around the edge. We like the fusible option because it doesn't require us to pin it in place.  Your fabric will stick where you iron it!

Ok, we've got the background in place so it's time to move on to the bias tape edging!  I know that you are all pros by now at making bias tape through your preferred method after last week's fun with bias tape.  This week, though, it really does matter that your tape is true 'bias tape,' meaning that the strips were cut on the bias and not with with the grain of your fabric.  The reason for needing the strips to be cut on the bias is that when they're cut on the bias, they're more stretchy, which will help with laying them out to follow the curvy shape of the crown.

If you purchased a kit from us, you'll find a 1/3 yd piece of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton in Curry (the same color you used for the stripes for Block D).  If you didn't buy a kit from us, you'll need 1/3 of a yard to get enough bias strips.  Cut 1” wide strips on a 45 degree angle. 

We'll take you through cutting on a 45 degree angle since it can throw people off at first.  You'll first want to find the line on your cutting grid that is marked 45 degrees.  We're demonstrating on our 6.5” by 24.5” Creative Grid ruler because it's handy, but almost every cutting grid and mat has a marked 45 degree angle.  Have you found yours?  Excellent!

Now line up the raw edge of your fabric along that black line that marks a 45 degree angle. This makes the straight edge of your ruler lined up to cut a 45 degree angle.

45 degree angle

Then, cut along that straight edge.

45 degree cut

(In our photo, I'm drawing a line with highlighter on paper, but you'd be cutting with your rotary cutter on the fabric)

Then, slide your ruler over so that the 1” line is along the cut you just made, and cut along the straight edge of the ruler again. 

Slide ruler over 1"

Cut strips

Keep moving your ruler over 1 inch to cut multiple strips until you run out of fabric.

Cut multiple strips

We you run out of fabric on one side, turn it over and keep cutting strips from the other side until your fabric is all 1 inch strips. 

Cut all the strips

Since you cut at a 45 degree angle, the bottom of your strips will be angled.  Go ahead and square those up.  

Here you have a choice for how to proceed.  You can sew all your strips together and make one long piece of bias tape and cut it again where you need it when you're placing it on the crown.  Or, you can make smaller pieces of bias tape and use the small pieces on the small portions and sew a bigger piece only when you need to.  It's up to you!  Either way, make some bias tape with your preferred method.  If you need a review, check out last week's instructions on how to make bias tape.

Once you have all the bias tape made, it's time to start laying it out on the crown detail.  You're going to want to start with the inside details of the crown.  We're starting here so that the raw edges of those strips will get covered when we go around the outside of the crown.  That way, the raw edges aren't exposed.  As for how to lay out the details on the inside of the crown, Gus winged it.  So, feel free to wing yours, too!  If you want to make yours exactly like Gus's, you can cut out the inside of the crown template that you cut out earlier.  Then, trace the lines on your fabric with an erasable pen or pencil, and lay out your bias strips according to those lines.

If you are using fusible bias tape, you can iron after placing each group of pieces and then sew the whole group down.  If you are using traditional bias tape, you'll need to pin and sew each piece individually before moving on to the next one.  Because Gus is extraordinary, he wanted his stitches on the top of the crown to match exactly so he used a double needle.  If you choose to follow in his footsteps and have a double needle handy, you'll need to thread both needles from a different spool and go on either side of your tension gauge (the two different strands can't both go through it).  Then, thread through both needles.  Note that your double needle must match the sewing plate on your machine or it won't work—you'll break the needles!  If you're plain Jane, like me, or you just aren't all that concerned about perfection, you can just sew down the edges of your bias strip however you like, knowing that the stitches likely won't match.   Don't simply sew down the middle of the bias strip or the bias edges will come loose in time.

Once you have the curved inside pieces of the crown done in bias tape (and sewn in place), it's time to do the curved line that runs through the center of the crown.  Again, pin and sew if you are using traditional bias tape or iron and sew if using fusible.

Now for the fun part,  you're going to need a pretty long piece of bias tape to go around the outside of the crown.  So, if you didn't sew your smaller strips together before, you'll probably need to now.   Starting in the top left corner of the crown, place bias tape all around the crown.  Pin or iron it down as you go to keep the bias tape in place.  As you come to the bottom left and bottom right corners, you'll want to fold the edges as you change direction  to keep the edges smooth.  Then, continue up to the top right of the crown.  If you have enough bias tape left on your long strip, you can keep going back to the top left, where you started.  If you don't have quite enough to make it all the way back across the stop, you can cut your bias tape at the top right and use a new piece to do the top of the crown.  Basically, you'll only want raw edges at the top corners of the crown and you'll want folded corners at the bottom.  That is because the tops ones will be covered by the yarn so you won't see the raw edges, but the bottom ones won't be covered so you want them to be smooth. 

So now that you've got the bias tape on the crown outline, all that is left to do for the crown is add the yarn baubles to the top of the points.  You'll find some Plymouth Gold Rush in your kit if you got it from us to make the baubles with.  If you didn't get a kit from us, you'll want to find some sparkle-tastic  yarn to really make the crown pop.  You can make the baubles as big as you want.  Eyeball how big you'd like them to be and then take the end of the yarn and pin it in the center of the circle you're envisioning.  Then coil the yarn around until it covers the raw edge of your applique for the crown.  Cut the yarn and pin the other end in place.  Then sew over the circles with invisible thread.  Remove your pins and make sure that then ends are securely sewn in place so that the bauble doesn't unravel.  Repeat for the other baubles on the crown. 

Your quilt top is officially done!  How does it feel?  Pretty good, right?  Go ahead and bask in its glory for a moment.  All that's left to be done is quilt as desired and bind the quilt.  We're pretty sure that you already know how to do that, but if not, here are some great blogs that we've found really helpful to get you on the right track:

Sew 4 Home:

Diary of a Quilter:

Sew 4 Home:

Heather Bailey

Sew Mama Sew:

Of course as always, please let us know if you have any questions! Otherwise, Happy quilting!

Jenn & Guss

Monday, August 5, 2013

Royal Baby KAL/SAL Week #6

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the final week of squares for the Royal Baby KAL/CAL! After this week, you should have 12 squares to sew together for your blanket. We will cover the construction aspect of this project in our final blog post next week. For now, enjoy knitting and crocheting your squares for week 6!

Week 6 Knit Square

100 yds of worsted weight yarn
US 7 needles

New Abbreviations:
yf- yarn forward
yb- yarn back


CO 47 sts.

Knit 6 rows in garter stitch.

Row 7 (set-up row): k5, p5, (k3,p5) 4 times, k5

Begin working the following 4 row pattern:

Row 1: k5, yf, sl 5 knitwise, yb, *k3, yf, sl 5 knitwise, yb; repeat from * to last 5 sts, k5

Row 2: k5, p5, (k3,p5) 4 times, k5

Row 3: k7, insert right needle under loose strand and knit next stitch on left needle pulling stitch under the strand to pull the strand up, *k8, insert right needle under loose strand and knit next stitch on left needle pulling stitch under the strand to pull the strand up; repeat from * to last 7 sts, k7.

Row 4: same as Row 2.

*Repeat Rows 1-4 until piece measures 9.25"

Knit 6 rows in garter stitch.

BO all sts and block gently to 10" x 10."



Size H/8 crochet hook
Tapestry needle

16 hdc sts and 8 rows in pattern = 4"


-ch (chain):  Yarn over hook, pull through loop on hook.

-slip stitch (sl st): Insert hook in next stitch, yarn over hook, pull through both loops on hook.
-hdc (half double crochet): Yarn over hook, insert hook under both loops of next stitch, yarn over hook and draw loop through stitch; yarn over hook again and pull through 3 remaining loops on hook.
 -dc (double crochet): Yarn over hook, insert hook under both loops of next stitch, yarn over hook and draw loop through stitch; yarn over hook and pull through two loops on hook; yarn over hook again and pull through 2 remaining loops on hook.
-tr (treble crochet):  Yarn over hook twice, insert hook under both loops of next stitch, yarn over hook and draw loop through stitch; [yarn over hook and pull through two loops on hook] 3 times.


Ch 34.

Row 1: Starting in 2nd ch from hook, hdc to end of row.  Turn.

Row 2: Ch 3. Starting in 3rd ch from hook, tr to end of row.  Turn.

Row 3: Ch 2. Starting in 2nd ch from hook, dc to end of row.  Turn.

Repeat rows 1-3 until work measures approximately 9" by 9".

Border:  With right side facing,work one row of double crochet as follows, working corners as described in note below:

Border Row 1: dc in each stitch on vertical ends of work and in space at end of each row on horizontal sides of work. 

*Work corners as follows: dc to corner stitch, ch 1, dc in corner stitch, ch 1, dc in next stitch and following stitches, to next corner stitch.

After working border rows, fasten off yarn and weave in end.  If needed, block gently to 10” by 10” dimensions.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for next week when we show you how to put it all together!

Happy knitting and crocheting!
Kristen & Heather