Try Something New Every Month: February’s attempt at a knit Latvian braid

Technically I cast-on in January, but I have no intentions of completing until well into February, so this totally still counts for my TSNEM project 🙂

To start, I absolutely fell. in. love. with The Inga Hat on Ravelry. I was super eager to start, but every time I opened the PDF pattern I saw the “braid” that it started with and went…huh? I seriously opened and closed this pattern like 10 times over the course of a few days, and finally I watched and watch and watched this tutorial: http://www.yarn.com/videos/video/how-to-knit-a-latvian-braid/.

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I made it through the first row…alright. I wasn’t totally sure I was doing it right, but I kept at it. Row two?

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Nope. I do not throw my yarn, so this video left me SUPER confused. I went back to the pattern and just read through it approximately a million more times, crossed my fingers (or rather crossed my yarn, har har har), and had at it. And yay, it worked!

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I have no practical advice for if you want to try a Latvian braid yourself, but I think the risk and effort was really worth it. What a cool new skill to add to my knitting repertoire! Also, I think the risk and effort is also worth it to try colorwork. This has been my latest knitting obsession after completing my Totoro mittens, and I love love love knitting up these beautiful patterns!


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See what other bloggers tried this month!

Rebecca at Hugs are Fun – Sashiko Embroidery

Kristy at Simply This Life – Knit Latvian Braid

Crystal at Stitched By Crystal – Wood Burning

Vicky at Vicky Myers Creations – Using a Serger/Overlocker

Kelly at Just Another Project – Sewing with Piping

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Yellow and grey baby quilt

My cousin had her baby shower this weekend so I can finally post the pictures of the quilt I made for her baby 🙂

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Unboxing my new Janome Magnolia 7360

I’ve been daydreaming about a fancier sewing machine for years, but I had never gotten so far as actually researching what I wanted or what would be suite my needs. After surveying friends I narrowed it down to Janome, and after perusing the internet I decided the Magnolia line would be best for me.

I found a local dealer, Quilters Destination, and visited midweek with Lily as my sidekick. She really did exercise a lot of patience while I asked questions and the very helpful associate showed me around their machines. But I knew I’d need to revisit alone to really get an undistracted look at things.

I went home that first day and set out to research more on Janome’s website about the Magnolia line and the differences between the models. I was most considering the 7330 and the 7360 (the fanciest of the Magnolisa and the runner-up). At first glance I was really leaning toward the 7330. It would save me about a third of the cost of the pricier model, and I wasn’t convinced I needed the extra stitches (30 versus 60).

Today I was able to sneak away and head back over to Quilter’s Destination to actually sit down and use the machines, as well as ask a bunch of questions.

Janome’s website left me with more questions than answers, and having a real live person to talk to made all the difference. To start, their website said that the 7330 did not have a free arm like the 7360, when in fact it did. The website also said the 7330 didn’t have the ability to drop the feed dogs like the 7360, when in fact, once again, it did. So sure, I should have been feeling pretty even about the two machines.

But then I used them, and yeah, the 7360 is worth the extra money (to me). It was quiet and smooth and lovely. Not to say the 7330 was rough and loud, but there was a noticeable enough difference to me that I sprung for the 7360 and took my new baby home.

Here’s the box…

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And the box once it was opened…

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And here are the contents unloaded and unwrapped from the plastic and styrofoam…

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As you can see it’s nearly totally ready to just start sewing straight out of the packaging!

Here’s what’s in the little baggie…

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…the only thing I needed straight away to start going was a bobbin and the little T-shaped plastic piece in the bottom left corner. That piece holds the plastic card with all the stitches printed on it, and it snaps into a little hole on the top back of the machine so you can see it to know what stitch you want to select.

Quilters Destination includes a free Janome 101 class with every machine purchase, so I will be learning what on earth the rest of all that is for when I attend that. For now, I was super thankful that opening, plugging in, and being ready to sew took less than 15 minutes.

Getting it all going was straight forward. The only time I had to reference the manual was to see which way the thread for the bobbin should wind. And then it was time to fiddle around!

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The first rows were easy, straightforward, and wonderful! Here are the most important buttons…

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The top button is the needle up/down, which does as exactly that: puts the needle into either the up or down position. A really nice feature of this machine is that it remembers where you started with your needle either up or down, and when you finish it returns the needle to that position.

The second button is the thread-lock, so instead of having to go forward and in reverse to lock your thread when starting a stitch, you just press that button, hit the pedal, it locks, and then you press the pedal again to begin sewing.

The third button down is the reverse button–hit and hold while sewing to go in reverse.

And the bottom start/stop button allows you to unplug the pedal, hit the button, and it just goes for you. I’ve been told it’s great for free motion quilting–can’t wait to try that! There are also speed controls on the machine itself, as well as having speed control with the pedal, which really lets you go exactly how fast or slow you want.

And here was a huge selling point…

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That’s SIXTEEN LAYERS OF FABRIC and this machine buzzed right through them all without any hesitation. I didn’t even know that was possible. The tension and stitches and everything were absolutely perfect whether I had two layers or sixteen.

I am in love.

 

My first swap partner!

I got the email! I got the email! I don’t think I was this excited on Christmas morning. I got the email yesterday with the info for my swap partner for the Studio Ghibli Swap (Instagram #studioghibliswap) and I spent all afternoon dutifully internet stalking her and mulling over ideas. I had a few solid likes of hers to go on, and a few preexisting thoughts rattling around my brain, and it all collided wonderfully and is turning out quite nice after a trip to the fabric store.

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If my swap partner has arrived here in search of ideas, well, let me think…

I love HAM! and Ponyo and when she looks like a chicken and wide-eyed Jiji and wide-eyed Totoro and that Totoro shirt from Hot Topic looking all cute and embroidery-like and all the colors of the scenery in the films and traditional-ish stuffs done modern-like and stuff that’s subtle and beautiful and I’m really really excited 😀

I’ll work on a Pinterest board that might be more helpful for what I find visually attractive in the Ghibli world: http://www.pinterest.com/kristygarceau/ghibli-ish/

 

Lily and I made things today

I’m trying not to add to my in-progress projects, but I couldn’t help myself and jumped into hexies this evening. Thanks to this great tutorial it all came together quite nicely, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to continue on with this adorable hexie travel kit once I make some more!

And Lily couldn’t help herself and jumped into her Sewing School book, too. She picked the apple pincushion as her first project, and after some encouragement she cut the felt all by herself (she REALLY wanted me to do that for her), and then I only had to thread the needle and tie the knots for her; she did the rest!

Nerds Craft It Better swap!

Okay, Nerds Craft It Better will be the last swap I sign up for right now with life potentially getting a little topsy turvy sooner versus later. Still, SO EXCITED for this swapping stuff!