One gift to rule them all

Regular readers of this blog will recall the saga of Leah’s birthday present.  Well, it’s  finished!

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I made her a knitted pillow with the words from Tolkien’s ring (yes, the One RIng to Rule Them All) knitted in gold.  I finished the knitting in time for her birthday in December, but fretted about how to sew it to the fabric and how to do the finishing.  I am a pretty good knitter, but have little sewing experience.  I really didn’t want to wreck it.

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You can read all of the posts I wrote about this project here.  This was a big step for me in many ways.  I am pretty much a beginner at two-handed stranded knitting, so it was a leap of faith.  Also, it was my very first time steeking.  Bringing a pair of scissors to bear upon one’s knitting, especially a piece so special and time-consuming, is not for the faint of heart.  Having put so much effort into the project, I decided not to rush the sewing part, even if that meant Leah having to patiently wait a few more months.  I asked for suggestions on the blog and many of you were kind enough to reply.  The consensus was to find a professional to sew it for me.

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The only tailor I knew in the area was Sally Stevens, who runs a tailoring business out of her home in Berkshire.  Sally had done some work for me a number of years ago.  I called her and explained what I needed.  “Let me send you a link to my blog posts about this, so that you can have an idea of what I am looking for,”  I said.  The next day, I set off with the knitted piece and the fabric to take it to Sally.  I was a bit worried about whether I was doing the right thing.  What if she couldn’t envision what I wanted?

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When I got there she said “I was up past midnight last night reading your blog posts.  I think we need to sew the pillowcase out of a plain cotton fabric and then sew the knitted panel to it.  That will reinforce it so that you won’t need to use any facing.  Then, we can sew the fabric to that.”  The pillow would thus have an inner lining to give some structure to the piece.  She also suggested a long zipper along the back, instead of the alternatives of a side zipper or an envelope closing.  “Here,” Sally said “I’ve made you a sketch”:

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When I got home, Doug said “Do you think she gets it?” “Oh, yes,” I said.  “She’s going to to do this just right.”

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I don’t know how to say this without gushing.  I think this is absolutely the greatest thing I’ve ever knitted.  I love it!  It’s perfect!  I want to keep it!  (Just kidding, Leah.  Maybe.)  I think it’s the greatest birthday present ever.

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Every part of making this was fun, from conception through throwing it up into the air for the above photo.  Even the steek!  (At least, in retrospect.)  You can probably not help but notice that this pillow is huge.  It is defintiely not a standard size pillow.  I spent a long time searching for a pillow the right size to fit this case, and finally found one here.  This is a duck feather and down bolster pillow measuring 51x100cm (20″ x 39″).

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I love the fabric I chose for the back as much as I love the knitted panel.  They compliment each other so well.  (In one of the previous posts, see above link, I wrote about finding the fabric; it was a remnant so I have no details.)  See how it shines in the sun?  And the yellow yarn (Quince & Co Chickadee in Carrie’s yellow), while pale with slightly brownish  undertones on its own, gleams against the purple like burnished gold.  Leah is a Tolkien fan but also a medieval history fanatic and I love the way this project has a very medieval look to it.

02-IMG_8596Happy Belated Birthday, Leah!  I’m holding the pillow hostage until you come home to visit.

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Secret identity revealed

In my last post I mentioned that I was knitting a top secret project for a birthday present.  Well, today is the birthday, but the present is nowhere near done.  Alas, such is the life of a busy woman!  SInce there is no longer any reason to protect it’s secret identity, I give you a progress shot:

20131214091908I imagine that many of you will recognize this immediately.  For the rest of us, suffice it to say that this is the inscription written on the Ring – yes, THAT ring – from The Lord of the RIngs.  Or, at least it will be when I finish knitting the first line of text.  I was about to launch into a linguistic description of the langauge and script, and realized that anything I wrote would be instantly corrected by thousands of Tolkien fans (my daughter, Leah, Tolkien fan and birthday girl, chief among them).  I will get Leah to brief me, and then I will report back to you, armed with the facts.

The writing is a pain in the you-know-where to knit, but beautiful to behold.  Here is a close-up:

20131214092011Once it’s been properly washed, blocked and steamed, it will be stunning!  (Or so I hope!)

The three weeks before we hopped on a plane to Vancouver were among the most stressful I can remember in a long time.  Not the kind of stressful that comes from bad things happening, but rather the kind of stressful that comes from too many things happening, deadlines to meet, too little sleep, and nerves.  Enough so, that when I finally got onto the plane, I burst into tears.  (We flew here on Wednesday, a day that was so foggy at Heathrow that planes were being cancelled left, right and centre.  I was so relieved to actually take off and leave some of the craziness behind.  My apologies to my fellow passengers who no doubt thought I was a crazy woman.)

Now, however, I have three weeks in Vancouver where I can spend time with the girls, knit, hang out with Doug’s family, knit, write a blog post or three, knit, maybe even get some knitting done.  And, oh, did I mention the paper in Managing Process Systems I have to write next week?

And, of course, let’s not forget the Imminent Steek:

20131214092040If you want to know what this project will turn into when it grows up, check back soon for a progress update!