Friday, September 4, 2015

Creating from Scraps

I am a saver. Whether projects involve knitting, writing, bookmaking, or quilting, they generate leftover materials that I have a hard time throwing away. Some scraps inspire me to make something new and some do not. The trouble is, I never know what will be useful so I save papers from bookmaking, fabric pieces, embroidered table runners, sentences, bits of poems, and small balls of yarn. My husband is patient with me. He saves other kinds of stuff but that is a story for another day.

Recently, I wanted to make a backing for a queen sized quilt top that I finished last summer. I pieced the Apron Strings pattern from scraps and leftovers. While I have plenty of fabric from my quilting years, I don't have long lengths suited for quilt backs. Rummaging through boxes of scraps, I unearthed pieces of a Boston Commons quilt that went awry ten years ago. The quilt was to be made by machine piecing strips, sewing them together, cutting across those pieces to make strips of small squares, and then piecing those strips with others into a checkerboard of squares. I miscalculated the seam allowance and ended up with quilt sections that didn't fit together. I tried some solutions but nothing worked so I packed up and stored the whole frustrating mess. Last week I retrieved the project and removed large corner sections. Then with more joy than precision, I trimmed and sewed the larger and smaller pieces together into strips to use in the quilt back. I found one good sized piece that never became a quilt and sewed the strips to either side. My goal was to square up the uneven edges and create a sturdy fabric that would lay flat on the back of the quilt. Eventually, I succeeded. Next I'll have it machine quilted. When the quilt is finished, I'll have an extra blanket for my grandsons' sleepovers. I wouldn't even care if they used it to make an indoor fort on a winter day.

At the same time I knit what I am calling the Blue Yoga Shawl from leftover yarn. I think the simple garter stitch will make a good wrap for the end of yoga class. I started with the Diving In Shawl recipe pattern and added three rows of eyelet and a narrow border from Numinlintu, another pattern I had recently knit. Most of the yarn is Quince and Co. Finch although I had one small ball of a leftover variegated sock yarn that went quite well with the colors. I wish I had done the increases, one stitch in from the edges, like those in the Numinlintu pattern. They would be neater with a more finished look but I didn't think about it until I had finished my shawl. I considered ripping it out but decided this is a shawl from scraps made primarily for warmth and comfort.

Meanwhile, I have started completely over with the blue Sundara yarn. I fixed the edge of the Ishbel shawl only to knit too far in the stockinette section so I ripped out the extra rows. Then I did something goofy in the center increase on the first row of lace. I pulled the needle out and discovered the piece looked like a miniature sample so I frogged the project. Some years ago, I knit an Ishbel shawl in some yarn I bought from a dyer no longer in business. I really like that shawl and this blue light fingering yarn wasn't going to make the same kind of fabric. After muddling around in patterns, I chose one called Tympani from a knitting book on my bookshelf. Now, there is a novel idea, actually looking through a book I already own, right? The shawl is back on the needles and I've found the sweet spot of knitting that occurs when needles, yarn, and pattern play well together. I've had the yarn for several year and who knows when I bought the book. This will be the third pattern I've tried to knit with this yarn. It is holding up well which means any leftovers may be useful.

I hope your fabric or yarn, and patterns play well together on this Labor Day weekend.


  1. oh, yes....i'm definitely a scrap, itty bit saver, just never know when you might NEED just that little yardage! Looks like you've put some of yours to excellent use!!! And good for you for using a book off your bookshelf!!! I just did a major book purge which meant that I looked through every single book I have....and I found some real treasures buried in those pages!!! (Of course, I've now forgotten where what is, but it's there somewhere!!.....maybe with my missing sweater!!)

  2. I save everything, you just never know. I love that shawl and I went to see the pattern and wouldn't you know it's already in my library! Silly me :) I love the quilt and your grands will love it even more knowing you made it with them in mind :)

  3. Like you, I am saver of scraps. There is always a good use for them. Your quilt is going to be lovely.
    Your shawl...LOVE!