OK, I promised I’d write this up, and it has taken me a while, but here it is.
My thought here was to create a quick and easy way to finish off a hanging sampler, using a method that did no harm to the stitched piece, that was inexpensive to do, and required no special equipment or components that can’t be found in most crafts stores.
Why “no harm?” Because many inexpensive framing solutions do exactly that. They place fabric under stress, encase it in moisture-trapping glass, matt it or line it with acidic materials that over time discolor or eat away at the ground cloth, or place the fabric up against wood or metal that can corrode or mark the cloth.
This solution is far from ideal, but it manages tension to avoid stretch or strain in hanging, isolates the stitched piece from any wooden or metal framing elements, can be quickly picked out without harm to the original work, and is very inexpensive.
Here are several examples (the center one is mid-process):
In all cases, a larger piece of backing fabric has been used to encapsulate the stitched item. The hanging bar (wood or metal) and bottom-weighting only touches the backing fabric. All are totally sewn by hand – no machine stitching.
Note that you don’t need to have actually stitched a sampler to do this. It would be useful to finish off a decorative tea-towel, heirloom doily, cloth map, or small pieced patchwork as a hanging, or (for my SCA pals) to mount a painted or printed banner for display.
To do this you need:
- Your display piece.
- Backing fabric. I used plain old quilting cotton. Any fabric will do, although for the “no harm” bit, I suggest washed cotton or linen rather than polyester or other synthetic. Size needed calcs below.
- Plain old cotton sewing thread that matches the backing fabric.
- A hand-sewing needle – a sharp with a small eye is recommended.
- A metal bar or wooden dowel for a top support (fancy finials are optional, but can be handy for fixing hanging strings or chains in place so that the hanging mechanism doesn’t compress the top edge of the hanging).
- The aforementioned hanging string or chain.
- An iron and ironing surface.
- A pair of scissors
- Straight pins
- A ruler and a tape measure
- Standard office stapler
- Optional weights for the bottom edge. I have used a length of brass chain, threaded onto an old ribbon, and small zinc drapery weights (small bars of zinc enclosed in a synthetic fabric envelope). These are sold in packs of two or six, in the curtain-notions department. Avoid the lead ones just on principle – the world does not need more free-range lead. In a pinch, coins sewn into little fabric pockets will do. If you are using drapery weights or coins, you only need two.
I found the backing fabric, dowel, wooden finials, the drapery weights, and the chain all in my local JoAnne’s fabric/crafts store.
First, decide how you want to frame your piece. A large area top and bottom, with narrower areas on the sides? Equal frame all the way around? The general size will inform your fabric purchase, although one yard of most quilting fabrics will be MORE than enough for all but the very largest samplers.
For the Permissions sampler, I decided I wanted a blue frame about 3.5 inches all the way around, and to preserve about 1 inch of unworked ground between the stitching and the edging I put pins in my sampler to mark that distance from my stitching, and measured the “to be shown” dimensions of my piece. About a half inch of my sampler, all the way around, will be hidden inside the backing.
Let’s call my display width 20 inches, and my display height 16 inches (to be truthful, I didn’t write down the real numbers). I know I want 3.5 inches of framing edge to show on all sides. Plus I need a hem allowance, let’s call that 0.5 inch. Here’s the logic:
3.5” x 2
3.5” x 2
3.5” x 2
3.5” x 2
So, by doing the addition, I need to cut my backing cloth to be 35” wide, and 31” high, which is what you see is half-way done here (I’ve cut the width but not the height yet):
The next thing to do is iron in the 0.5” hem all the way around. Note that the “right side” of the backing fabric (such as it is, is DOWN). I chose to iron in mitered corners for tasty neatness, but that’s optional, and there are a ton of video tutorials on doing that.
Then I positioned my stitched piece on top of my backing fabric, making sure that it was correctly placed (the edge of my stitching was 8 inches from the now-folded edge of the backing – I should have left in my dimension measurement pins but I forgot, and took them out.)
Once the stitched piece was correctly positioned. I folded the left and right edges in, carefully aligning them (measuring the distance from my embroidery), and finger pressing them down and pinning. Because I stitched on even weave, I was able to use the count of my ground fabric for **perfect** alignment without having to mark the fold-to line on my sampler.
Those two little white tabs? Those are the drapery weights – note that they have little tab ends that are handy for stitching. That’s where they will go, encapsulated in the edging/backing, far away from the stitching. Next I folded in the top and bottom and pinned them, too. Once all edges were pinned, I lightly touched up the folds with my iron, to make them slightly crisper. Then I slid those drapery weights in and pinned them into place.
Here’s the thing, ready for hand stitching.
You’ll notice that there are simple lapped corners – I didn’t miter them. By doing this I can use the flap-over on the top as my hanging pocket. I do not need to engineer a separate hanging method for attaching the bar or dowel.
Now for the hand-sewing. Yes, I could have done this by machine, but hand stitching is easier to pick out in the future, and easier for me anyway to keep neat and aligned. There’s no real reason (other than speed) to do this by machine. And yes – I probably should have basted, but hey, what’s the fun without a tiny bit of risk. 🙂
Starting at the lower corner where the bottom and side flaps meet, and working first completely around the stitched sampler part, ignoring the flapped areas at the corners, I worked a simple hand appliqué stitch, catching a tiny bit of the edging, passing through the ground cloth but not the ultimate backing – at a diagonal, ready to make my next stitch. Here’s a tutorial on the appliqué stitch.
Note that I used the even weave’s threads to keep my hem nice and straight.
After I had worked the appliqué stitch around the entire visible area of my sampler, I used the same stitch to affix the two lower corners – the places where the bottom folded edge lapped up and over the folded-in sides. As I did each of these two corners, I worked from the visible sampler area back out to the edge. When I got to the side, I turned the corner and used a tiny whip stitch to seam together the front and back edges. When I got to the place where the weight was pinned, I wiggled it up so that I could just nip its flapped edge in as I was whip stitching:
I worked the top two corners similarly, but instead of working all the way down to the tip of the corner as I whipped the front to the back, I stopped about 0.5” from the top on both the left and the right. This left an opening through which I could pass my dowel. A small bit of finesse was needed to thread it through (I used another scrap of dowel to nose the hem allowance out of the way on the inside).
To make the hanging stick, I used a 1/4 inch dowel. I probably should have used a metal rod or a thicker dowel, but that’s what they had in the store. I bought a little pack of finials, and ended up having to shave down the ends of my dowel just a tiny bit so that they fit into the holes on the finials. I also bought a length of inexpensive craft chain, intended for chunky necklaces, with links large enough to fit around the dowel.
I cut the dowel to the width of my finished piece, plus about 0.5”. Using a regular office stapler, I stapled the chain to my dowel, about a quarter of an inch from the end. I dotted the inside of the first finial with wood glue and forced it onto the dowel and over a bit of the staple, so that the chain was butted up against it. Then I threaded the dowel through the top of the hanging, squishing up the hanging a bit to keep it away from my working end, I stapled the other end of the chain to the dowel, then forced on the second finial.
So here we are at the beach again, seizing a weekend unoccupied by renters, to enjoy our place in North Truro. It’s not as warm as it can be in full summer, but it’s plenty comfortable enough for lounging on the beach, wandering the shoreline, and nosing around Provincetown.
And what’s lounging on the beach without a knitting project? It can be difficult to knit from a complex pattern on the beach – hard copy pages get damp, and tend to blow around. It’s often too bright to knit from designs stored on the iPad, the screen washes out in the sun. So I tend to look for projects that are mindless, memorized, or free-form.
So here’s the latest, photographed in full sun on our deck.
I’m working entirely without a pattern, using a rustic style Aran weight wool. I’ve got several skeins of well-aged Bartlett two-ply Maine wool, that are taking up all to much room in my stash boxes I’d prefer to put to other use.
I have a couple of heathered garnet red; a couple that are ragg-mix of one ply of the garnet, and one of a navy; and a couple of a medium blue which is too light to use in combo with the others. None are enough for an entire adult sweater but it’s time they earn their keep. Also the ragg style blue/red mix would overpower most texture work. So what to do?
A unisex, simple raglan, worked top down was the obvious choice. No pattern, no gauge. I started by casting on 100 stitches, and working a rolled stockinette collar on a US #8 (5mm) needle. I changed to a US #10 (6mm) needle. I’ve now got about 172 stitches around – roughly a 44-45-inch chest circumference. The fit is slouchy and sweatshirt-like, and the high lanolin content rustic yarn (though a bit itchier than Merino, and hand-wash) guarantees a hard wear sweater ideal for cool weather hiking, and winter sports. It’s a bit small for me, but between spawn, and a huge army of nieces and nephews, plus lots of outdoorsy friends, it’s bound to fit someone.
So, what do I call this no-pattern piece? The Wesley Crusher, of course. Named for the ubiquitous shoulder-colorblock casual sweaters and uniform blouses worn by him and the rest of the STNG crew.
Minor discovery during the course of this one. Many circular needles in larger sizes have a noticeable “bump” where the needle part slims down to the cable’s thin diameter. It can be annoying to shuffle stitches up that steep incline as you knit in the round. But you can minimize the problem if you are using an interchangeable needle set. I’ve outfitted one of the circs with a size #10 on one end, and a #8 on the other. Since stitch size and gauge is dictated by the needle you are using to form the stitches (as opposed to the one being knit from), the smaller size needle sits on the “feed” side of the round, and its slightly smaller diameter presents less of an impediment when shuffling the stitches around into “knit me” position. Give it a try!
And in other knitting news, I have finished the leaf shawl/scarf:
It looks like work/home will crawl back to a more manageable schedule, so I hope to be posting more regularly again in the weeks to come. Next up is a tutorial on a simple method to finish out a sampler into a backed hanging.
A very hectic month, between work and other obligations. I’m glad to say we’ve gotten Younger Daughter off and installed at college, purple hair and all:
And I finished her vintage shrug:
An interesting project, this was a very quick knit, but it did take a bit of attention in finishing. The instructions for seaming in the original are pretty rudimentary. Here’s what I did, in case you want ot make one of these for your own:
- Leave stitches live instead of binding off the final row
- After blocking, graft live stitches to the cast on edge, taking care to match the drop stitch ribs.
- Next, sew up the two sleeves, using grafting along their finished edges. Again, match the ribs.
- You now have the final seam left. Carefully match the center back seam to the center of the shoulder strip, and pin.
- Use mattress stitch to join the two strips together.
In effect, what you end up with is a T-shaped seam in the back, with the horizontal running between the lower edge of the armholes, and a vertical seam at the “spine” of the lower strip forming the center back. Both are hard to see in my photo of the back because (to brag) I took great care with my grafting and seaming.
Quite pleased with this one. Younger Daughter is into swing dancing, and will wear it not with t-shirts as shown, but with her 1940s/1950s-style dance dresses.
It’s been a while since I posted last. Hectic doesn’t begin to describe it. Kitchen finish, work-related deadlines, college graduations, and last – a blissful vacation week on Cape Cod in our new beachside condo, full of kayaking, golf, good food, and the active pursuit of doing absolutely nothing. All in all too many things to accomplish, with too little time to document any of it.
But through it all, a modicum of sanity-preserving handwork has happened: three pairs of hand-knit socks (my default no-thinking project of choice); plus some others.
First, thanks to the generosity of Certain Enablers who shall remain unnamed – a vintage shrug. I began working on this just before the vacation break. On US #9 (5.5mm) needles, this one was a quick knit. At left is the photo from the pattern. At right is my piece.
Those projections on the side are the sleeves. Obviously, I haven’t seamed the thing up yet. A bit of pretzel-type manipulation is slated to happen that will result in a T-shaped seam in the back, and the graceful drape of the simple drop-stitch rib pattern curving in the front. Or so we hope. I have the piece left on the needle because I haven’t decided yet on whether or not I will be doing some sort of live-stitch seam. It’s hot and sticky right now – too hot to sit with this tub of alpaca boucle on my lap. I’ll go back and finish this piece off when it cools off a bit. I’ll have to rush though, so Target Recipient can take the completed garment off to university with her next month.
Second is also a time-linked project. The first of two, in fact. I am edging off the two inspirational samplers I did for the girls, backing them and readying them for simple rod type hanging. Here’s the first. I’m hand’ hemming the backing/edging cloth to the stitching ground. The backing cloth is in one piece, strategically folded to be a self frame. I’ll baste a length of chain threaded on some thin woven tape in the bottom fold to provide weight, and leave small gaps in the two top corners for insertion of the hanging rod:
The second one will be close behind – the other sampler I did this fall/winter past. Also finished out for hanging from a rod. More on that after I’ve laid it out. In fact, if folk are interested, I’ll use the second one to illustrate the folding and stitching logic required to do this.
And finally, just for fun with no deadline attached (so you know what I’ll be working on tomorrow evening), an Autumn Lace shawl out of some unknown Noro fingering weight yarn, augmented by some Noro Taiyo Sock. The unknown Noro was also from the same Enabling Anonymous Donor, and was perfect for a project I’d been planning on working up for a long time:
Here you see the first course of leaves (worked bottom half, then top half). This is not a particularly difficult pattern, but it is an exacting one, with a pattern that has to be closely followed, and that is not within my capability to memorize. More on this one as it develops.
And now, a blatant advertisement from the Management of String.
WANT BEACH? WE HAVE IT, AND YOU CAN STAY THERE.
Seriously – we are now the happy owners of a beachfront condo in North Truro, Cape Cod – just one shuttle bus stop away from the Provincetown line. Our newly renovated two-bedroom upstairs unit is available for week-long rentals for the balance of the summer and through into September/early October.
As you can see from this sand-side photo, the building is right on the beach, on the quiet bay side. Our unit (indicated) has a covered private deck. It sleeps six total, with two bedrooms (a queen size bed in each), plus a new queen-size sleeper sofa in the living room. One bedroom has views of the bay beach, the other looks out on Pilgrim Lake.
It comes with a full, new kitchen, including a four-burner stove, oven, dishwasher, full size fridge, plus coffeemaker, blender and toaster. There’s a full bathroom with both a stall shower and whirlpool tub; and an in-unit washing machine and dryer.
The great room has an eat-in table that seats a cozy six, and the aforementioned sofa in a comfy seating overlooking the bay. The unit is also air conditioned, with WiFi and cable TV (including HBO) in the living room, and additional flat screen cable TVs in both bedrooms.
Outdoor amenities include full access to the private beach; two numbered, reserved parking places; a grill/picnic area open to all residents; bicycle racks; and a stop for the Provincetown shuttle bus directly in front of the building.
UPDATE: We have changed our rental agent. You can reserve the unit on-line via Kinlan-Grover – the unit code is WSALA.
I leave you with a sunset picture of Provincetown, taken from our deck. Admit it – you really want to get away and admire this view in person.
We’re in the final glide path to high school graduation here, plus birthdays. We spent the weekend cleaning and gardening like crazy – and there’s still a ton to do.
That means removing a frosting of construction dust from every surface of the house; unpacking and placing the remaining kitchen goods (sorting out stuff to save for future spawn-apartments, or for charitable donation); washing all the floors; replacing the rugs stowed away from the chaos; waking up the garden from winter doldrums; building the new bean trellis out of last year’s giant grass canes; planting the beans; attacking the colonizing blanket of unwelcome weeds in the flower beds; staking the peonies; scrubbing down the bathrooms (similarly affected by construction dust); and generally putting everything to order. We didn’t finish, but we put a huge dent in it all. That means no time spent on detailed photography of the new orderly and in-service kitchen, and precious little time on needlework or knitting (although I did finish the last of my stack of Birthday (and Un-Birthday) socks in time). Plus the normal weekend regimen of cleaning and cooking for the ensuing week. I am now exhausted just tallying it all up.
Here is what I can report photographically.
The kitchen works! This is old news already – The Resident Male making short ribs last weekend:
Younger Daughter and The Denizen got all decked out for the Senior Prom. The went with a herd of friends, and had a great time.
And we had an amazing joint birthday cake – home-baked, of course, courtesy of Younger Daughter. She used the America’s Test Kitchen Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake recipe in her first trial run of the new ovens. Oh, so good!
We’re finally closing in on the last leg of the Great Kitchen Rehab.
Cabinets are in. Appliances are in and working. Most of the drawer and cabinet pulls are installed. The protective covers on the tile floor, soapstone counters, and range hood are gone. All that remain are the missing pulls (the hardware order was short), a minor electrical fix on the overhead fan and its controls, final clean-up plus oiling down the soapstone, and painting.
Most of the missing pulls are cup-style, as seen on the left, below. And one detail that wasn’t seen before is the leaded glass panel suspended in front of the transom window. Apologies for the odd lighting – it’s tough to get a photo of a clear window in the late evening.
The backsplash extends across the entire wall below the cabinets on the sink side, and behind the rangetop, under the window and up the other side of the window (a skinny strip) on the other side of the room. The end wall surrounding the door to the dining room is bare.
The soapstone will darken considerably when oiled/waxed.
The painter should start next Monday, possibly earlier if he is available. It’s just the one room, so it shouldn’t take long. The walls are a very pale dove grey, with the now-poplar-color window, door and baseboard trim done in an enamel, one click darker. The ceiling will be white.
After painting we have the next challenge – moving everything back into the kitchen, figuring out where it goes and stowing it all safely away. I’ve already ordered oilcloth to line the pull-out drawers of the pantry, so with luck we’ll avoid those sticky circles under bottles of oil or molasses, that happen no matter how carefully they are wiped down.
The next post on the kitchen rehab will be the last one, with everything done, plus a before and after set to finally banish the ghosts of the vaguely Colonial style cherry veneer that used to be.
What will we cook first in our new kitchen? Hmmm…..
It’s been a while since the last post. Progress has been steady all this time, but it’s been incremental, with not that much that was exciting enough to show off. After all – one wall’s worth of additional baseboards or crown moldings does not make thrilling photos. But now that it’s all in I can give everyone a peek.
The last is first – the stone countertops have arrived, and the copper sink has been placed (although functional installation is still down the road). These pix were taken by The Resident Male, and were posted on Facebook yesterday.
We chose soapstone. Yes, it does scratch more easily than granite, but we liked the look. Plus, if it’s good enough for lab benches, it should be good enough for us. The piece we ended up with has a lot of character. Many people opt for more uniform slabs, but I really wanted the grain and inclusions to show:
Here is the area on the left side, away from the window, with the sink placed. The dishwasher will go in the open area to the sink’s immediate right. (Finally! A sink on the ergonomically correct side for a right-hander!)
And here’s the main workspace under the windows, where the sink used to be. The stone is on both sides of the rangetop, also slid in but not functionally installed yet. That’s an ocean of prep space, enough for tag-team cooking and baking.
There’s another small bit of stone, on the other side of the fridge (which is to the right of the dishwasher). That’s about 18 inches wide at most, and is a necessary place to plunk cell phones for recharging.
Now that all of the stone is in, the next thing the team did was cover it all up with protective cardboard so additional work would not harm it. In these dawn-this-morning shots you see all of the cabinetry is now up, along with all of the crown molding, door and window frames, and baseboards.
Here you see the lineup from the door to the dining room, with the opening for the wall oven and microwave next to it, past the sink and on to the big opening for the fridge (with the tiny counter just peeking out on the other side of the fridge space).
Yes, the upper cabinets are HIGH. We’ll keep a stepstool in the kitchen for easier access.
Here’s the other side of the room, showing how the work area near the window flows. There’s a small counter area to the right of the rangetop, and on the side of the prep area you see the pantry cabinet. A real pantry with actual usable space and rolling, lipped shelves; instead of the narrow, near unusable bit we had before!
Finally, here is the view back towards the kitchen door, showing the laundry area, with its folding door reinstalled, and the utility cabinets opposite the entry door. There will be a hanging bar beneath this, like there was before. While there are upper tier cabinets here, too, they are wood front, without the glass that’s in the main kitchen area.
The molding surrounds for the windows and doors are simpler than that in the rest of the downstairs, but coordinate with it in size and contour, as do the baseboards and plinths beneath the door surrounds.
All of the pale poplar woodwork you see (doors, windows and baseboards) will be painted. It would very difficult to match the color of the cabinets with stain. Also bring those linear elements forward would bring a heavier look to the room – very ‘70s, in fact. Instead, when we paint the remaining walls a very pale dove grey, we will paint those trim elements in a very slightly darker, glossier grey, so that they visually recede.
We haven’t decided yet, but we may also paint the radiator cover under the entry way window. Not sure yet about the folding door.
So that’s the progress for the past eight work days or so. Remaining work includes the tile backsplashes behind the sink and stove/prep areas, install of the ovens, all supporting final finish electrical and plumbing work including the faucet, disposal, and filtered water tap, some tinkering/reinstall of the room’s radiators, and the lighting fixtures and ceiling fan. After that comes painting.
And then we can FINALLY move back into the kitchen, and cook our first celebratory meal. I am so looking forward to it!
The Great Kitchen Project continues! More cabinets were delivered and have been installed.
Here you see the waay-up cabinets. Sitting between the top of the standard height cabinets and the 9-foot ceiling, they are too high for access without a stepstool, but they will come in handy for storing those once-a-year things, like cookie tins, the Thanksgiving platter, and the like. We opted for frosted glass fronts on them instead of the solid wood panel in order to lighten up the look, but still hide whatever is inside. The arrival and beginning of the install on this set is our step forward.
Our step back is that our trusty master carpenter, on close inspection of some of the units put in by his team earlier in the week, noticed some flaws in the finish of some of the framing units and some of the doors. He removed the suspect pieces and sent them back for more attention. The delay isn’t great, but I am grateful that he knows what to look for, and cares about quality. You can see cardboard protectors taped onto the front of the lower units, in place of the missing doors.
No work today because of the cabinet return delay, and the crew needing to finish up another job for the same general contractor, but next week should see the re-install of the missing units, and the rest of the top level; finishing off the small crown molding on top (you can see the “behind” layer that will support it just above the top cabinets); and an attack made on the wood trim around the windows and doors.
Finally, in other news, the appliances have been delivered (but are still packed); and stone for the countertops will be chosen today. And drawer/cabinet pull hardware has been ordered. Stay tuned!
OK, here’s the latest progress on the great kitchen rehab project. Fernando already these pix of the completed tile floor on Facebook:
The wandering washing machine has been moved back to its alcove home. But you can see the floor.
We’ve chosen 18” x 6” tiles, and had them laid out with random overlap (instead of on halves or thirds), with the long dimension aligned with the long dimension of the room. That makes the room look a bit larger, in both directions.
Here you can see the texture and color – it’s tile, but with a slate-like look.
Since a nice, clear room, with clean walls and a finished floor should not remain uncluttered for long, we move on:
Protective cover now down over the new tile for the duration of construction and our cabinets have been delivered! The whole kitchen is pretty much crammed full of boxes of wood boxes. And as you can see, they’re beginning to be installed.
We’ve opted for plain shaker/mission style quarter-sawn oak in a light finish. Much brighter than the dark cherry stain that was there (before pix provided for comparison). I didn’t want painted white cabinets – the other option. I much prefer the look of finished wood.
The layout is changing, too. Where the useless pantry was before, will now be a microwave and wall oven (the large opening straight ahead). On the right, where the upper cabinet notch is, will be the sink. That used to be on the other side of the room, under the window. I’ll miss looking out the window as I wash up, but moving the sink gives us a much more efficient countertop space allocation. We’ll have a large prep area next to the stove.
In the new layout photo above, there’s another cabinet next to the corner unit – then the sink, and a dishwasher ON THE RIGHT – no more twisty-turn to load the thing, and then the fridge. And what you don’t see is that there is a second course of small cabinets going on top of these, bringing storage right up to the ceiling. Those will have frosted glass fronts instead of the wood center panels, to make their facade less imposing. Yes, we will need a stepstool to get into those top cabinets, but they will be a great place to stow stuff we only use once a year.
Next photo will be more cabinet installs, both above and on the other side of the room.