19 June 2009

how i do it

I'm still working on Babette #1. I'm actually making some progress. If I'm lucky, I'll get one whole side sewn together tonight and then just be left with the treacherous traitor known as the left side of the blanket. (I swear, if this thing had any mercy on me, it would sew itself together.)

I got a couple questions about this thing. One was an email asking why I'm working on it if its making me nuts...

Excellent point.

See, here's the thing. I've already made all the squares. And I have a great affection for things that look kind of old-ish (this reminds me of an old fashioned crochet blanket a granny would make) so I still love it. Just not in pieces.

I figure I need to at least get one together or it will be that project. You know the one. The one that you always think about as it sits in a paper bag in your closet collecting dust. The one that could have been so cool if only you had had the fortitude to finish the blasted thing. This blanket is one of those kind of projects. So onward I trudge.

The other was a comment left by Yarnhog asking if there was a way to crochet them together rather then sew them. The short answer is yes. I looked around at other people's Babettes when I finally finished the squares (and found many similar burn out stories on other blogs so I am not weak, I swear it) and there are apparently several options for the finishing.

Since my colors are all over the place on this thing, I didn't really want to crochet in a joining row. Which you can totally do but I felt (and still do) like that would ruin the random patchy look that is the basis for its charm by making nice little neat segregated rows and decided against that one. (And really, do I want to make this thing even bigger then it will already be? Oh the humanity...)

Other people were randomly attacking it with whip stitching. Which works but oh my...in some cases it could be the poster child for why we should take a break from projects that annoy us so we don't rush the finishing. Now in the whip stitch's defense, this technique works just fine if you are joining blocks that are all in the same color. But most Babettes aren't and I found that it showed too much. So I abandoned that one as well.

(Yes, you may roll your eyes at me over my pickiness. I did too.)

Then I recalled Anna's mattress stitch tutorial on her blog. Now I consider Anna a knitted toy genius. I love her stuff, very funny and very easy to make. (I recommend the Uh-Ohs, super fun pattern and I want to make such a long string of these that it will stretch from my house to my office an hour away. For some reason it feels appropriate.)

Even though her tutorial is for knitting, I figured it should work just as good for crochet so I gave it a whirl. Its not exactly the same but similar and I think its the best choice for this blanket.

So I figured I do a little quick photo shoot of how I sew these buggers together (also so you can feel the tedious pain that is the finishing of this blanket and choose to only knit/crochet things in one giant honkin' piece - consider this a public service announcement as well).

(1) I weave in all my ends on the individual blocks before I sew them together. It gives me hope for the finished project to see them neat. I do this and the sewing on the back side. (Crocheting in the round like this does produce a front and back.)

(2) Do your darndest to line up the first stitch so that you don't get all the way to the end of the row and realize they are offset of each other. (Although if you do that and squint hard enough, you can overlook it and just keep going.) I'm using a neutral yarn just because, well, I have enough colors in this thing to make me twitchy so it seemed like a good choice. (I leave a long tail at the beginning of the sewing, you'll find out why in a second.)

(3) Then I begin sewing. I go into the stitch right next to the one I just came out of and through the same stitch opposite. Notice that I'm going underneath both bars of the stitch, not just one. I feel this gives a more solid join and will help the blanket stay together longer.

(4) And repeat that all the way along the whole length of the seam.

(5) When I get to the end of the row, I sew the open corners together as well because I found that I swore repeatedly and in a way that would make a sailor blush if I hadn't done this and was sewing longer strips together. Trust me, its easier.

Weave in your ends from your sewing yarn. (That's truly the cruelest irony of all. This produces even more ends to weave in. But I am strong. I will not crack, I will not crack, I will not crack...)

(6) Now remember that long tail I left at the very beginning? Go back and sew those open corners together and then weave in that end of the sewing yarn. (Its easier when the middle part is sewn together to stitch the open corners, they're floppy.)

Ta da. Two blocks sewn together.

(7) Now there are limits to this method. We are not magicians here. You can still see the stitches. But they are neat and tidy and even though I intentionally picked the darkest color for this example, you can see how they aren't really that obtrusive.

(I can feel you looking at those longer stitches were the corners were sewn together. I am too. Don't worry about those because when you come back over those spots to sew on the adjoining blocks or do the border, they get absorbed into the mix and you don't see them anymore.)

Besides, my feeling is that if someone grabs this blanket and starts ragging on me because they can see these little stitches, they deserve to be covered in peanut butter and locked in a room with Dooley. (Little man looses his senses around peanut butter, trust me, this would be unpleasant. You would be licked from head to toe and completely covered in dog spit.)

Here's a close up of what it looks like from the front: That waviness relaxes once you handle it more.

And that's how this monster is getting put together. Stitch by stitch, woven end by woven end, swear word by swear word.

My back has been real bad the past few days which means I've been trapped on the sofa trying to convince it to be nice to me. So I've been picking at putting this together. There is a total inappropriate amount of glee every time I come across a block that already has its ends woven in. But most of them don't so I plod along and do what I need to.

I think it will be a beauty when its done. We'll do a couple quick rounds around the whole thing after its sewn together to get a border on (you do need to do this, it straightens out any wonkiness that may have been produced from sewing things together) and then lay underneath it and pet it.

What? What did you just say to me? Oh now, that's so not polite...

As a side note, we are having a full on summer thunderstorm right now. And Dooley is feeling the need to compete with the thunder. Every time it rumbles out there, he is giving it hell. I have a dog that barely stands a foot tall that feels he can battle nature. No one can say he is lacking in the confidence department.


Yarnhog said...

Oh, thank you for the tutorial! I sewed together a crocheted blanket for my son, and I'm always having to re-sew bits of it. Since then, I've been a great fan of the giant granny square, but it would be nice to branch out now and then. ;)

Barbara H. said...

I've been sewing granny squares together since the early '70s, and how I do it is to leave the tail long on the last round, and use that to sew the squares together. I sew them together from the back side, in the back loops only. If you do that, you don't see the stitches on the right side. Works for me! I started a Babette and I'm sure it will take me awhile to finish between all the other stuff I'm working on.