Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Hexagon Project: Blocks 27-29

Slow and steady. I’ve hand sewn three more English paper piecing hexagon flower blocks for my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

English paper piecing hexagon flower blocks 27, 28, and 29 lined up on a white background.

I’ve noticed that my most recent flower blocks aren’t as flat as my earlier blocks, even after being pressed. I’m not sure of the cause — it may be differences in how I cut the hexie templates, in where I’m sewing the stitches, in the tightness of the stitches, ... or in something else entirely.

It’s nothing that won’t quilt out later, but I’m paying closer attention to how I sew the stitches in my current block in hopes that I’m able to pick up on something.

EPP hexies in multiple colors overlapping on a white background.

Speaking of cutting templates, it’s almost that time again. I’m looking forward to laying out all of my blocks first; I may have enough to start sewing them into a quilt. I’d still need to cut more hexagon templates for the sashing blocks, but it would add an element of excitement to the chore of cutting the card stock if I knew I was about to move on to the next step in this process.

In the meantime, I’ll keep moving forward — slow and steady, stitch by stitch.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Santas by the Dozen

Back in October when I was making Halloween decorations, I came across the crochet pattern for Santas by the Dozen by Marsha Glassner. I couldn’t wait to get started.

I used a 2.25 mm (B) hook along with size 10 Aunt Lydia’s Classic Crochet in White, Natural, and 494 Victory Red.

Detail of crocheted cotton doily made from 12 Santa faces with red hats on a dark background.

Glassner recommends against using undyed cotton for Santa’s face because there may not be enough contrast with the white. I couldn’t find any other colors that were remotely “skin tone” locally. I briefly considered dyeing some thread, but was unsure of the quantity I would need. In the end, I decided to take my chances with the natural colorway.

I did notice, however, that even the small selection at my local store had a noticeable range of dye lots labelled as white and natural. A darker natural can hold its own against a bright white.

The doily is worked from the center outward, and I was almost done with the hats when I realized they were creating a spiral shape instead of radiating out in straight lines. All this time, and I’ve been crocheting incorrectly! I though my ghosts looked a little off, but their wavy shapes helped to mask my mistakes.

Most new rounds in this doily start with ch3 to act as a dc. Instead of connecting at the top of that faux dc when I slipped the last stitch of a round with the first stitch, I was moving to the top of the first real dc. This shifted all of my stitches over by one.

I’ve been crocheting that way for years! It’s a wonder that I never noticed the mistake in any other projects. I knew that the ends of the rounds stood out in my crochet, but I didn’t have anyone else’s projects available to compare whether that was normal.

Crocheted cotton doily of 12 Santa faces with red hats on a dark background.

After I started over, the project worked up quickly and easily. The nose and first beard row are both a little tricky, but Glassner does a good job of explaining them. And it’s fun to see the little noses emerge in front of the rest of the crochet.

My final challenge was in blocking the table topper after it was complete. The red dye bled a lot, even with a color catcher in the water. I pressed out the water as well as I could, but the red seeped into the white as the doily dried. I hope that the excess dye will come out in future washings since I’m not running it through a dryer.

For once, my project timing worked out well. We started decorating for Christmas today, which means my Santas are already in place on the table. So far, everyone is too amused by those little noses to notice imperfect stitches or a little extra red.