Thursday, October 15, 2009

Unventing (or did I invent this?)

Life has been rolling on, but the blahs returned because of yet another period of sustained rainfall. I have a feeling you can probably chart Tasmania's weather by the state of my blogging.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since my last post. I have finished socks.

Here are the Blackrose socks I made for Beth, currently winging their way across the Pacific.

Bendigo Luxury 8ply in Purple Storm, made on 3.25mm sticks. These were really big socks and took a lot of knitting. These took up most of my knitting time for a couple of weeks.

Here are the Fawkes socks I started when we were on holiday. These are my first magic loop socks - for some reason, although I have been using magic loop for all sorts of things (sleeves, hats, mitts) I had never gotten around to making socks with it. I am now a complete convert, because during the time I knitted these, I never once lost a DPN under the car seat! Not once.

Fawkes socks, 2.5mm harmony circular, Fleece Artist Somoko in Sun - yum!

Ms Madmad and I were having a conversation about how much nicer knitted garments are now than they were in days of yore. Beautiful yarn and fibres, lovely patterns, nice buttons. Having finished the Vine Yoke Cardigan and Tempest recently, both buttons heavy projects, I mentioned to Ms Madmad that since I had converted to the using of safety pins, I had no problems with button placement.

I am not sure if I invented this. After all, for years I thought I had invented the cable cast on, because everyone I knew taught me that you cast on by sticking the needle through the stitch, and when I stumbled on the idea of sticking it between the stitches and discovered it made a much cleaner, firmer edge I had no idea that it had a name. From the moment I discovered it, I never went back, and it was only much, much later when I got my hands on a stitch dictionary that I found out that not only had I not invented it, that it actually had a name.

So, the safety pin method for dealing with buttons.

First, block your item. Depending on construction, sometimes I just steam press the finished item. Sometimes I give it a soak with a tiny bit of woolwash. I spin it in the washing machine and then lay it out on the wonderful rubber alphabet tiles I bought for less than 10 dollars. I pin shawls etc, but generally not cardigans. Them I smooth out by hand and match up bands.

Matching up the bands is utterly crucial.

Given that usually you have already knitted in the buttonholes, making sure that the bands are perfectly matched is the heart of this method.

Wander off and leave the item to dry.

Occasionally, I will give it a steam press when it is dry too. Depends. Lay it on a nice flat surface, and you are good to go.

Now, grab a pile of safety pins and pin them where the buttons would go, on the underneath band. Start with the top and bottom button positions.

I generally have them horizontal, and as I go I push the closed safety pins through the buttonholes as if they were buttons. This is the crucial bit.

When they are all in position I check that the bands are still perfectly matched, and adjust the position of any safety pins.

Once you are completely happy, sew on the buttons, matching the button to the safety pin. Voila! You are done.

This all arose because of a series of button disasters, exacerbated by the problem that when I sew a button on, it stays sewn. My buttons, when I have sewn them on, never fall off, so changing the postion of a button is a nightmare. I used to use glass headed pins, but still had button disasters, and then I thought of using safety pins. They come in different sizes, so you can cover most sizes of buttonholes, they are easy to move around, but stay still when closed and they can pretend to be buttons for the purpose of this exercise.

Since I started doing this (and as far as I know I invented it, but you are all probably doing this anyway and I just didn't know), I have not had a button diaster. Not one.

So I am pretty pleased with myself (but having said that, I will now no doubt have 16 disasters in a row. Hubris works like that. I'll have to be extra careful!).

Have a good weekend, and I'll try to do exciting stuff to report back. Pray for sunshine!


amy said...

It's been a while since I sewed buttons on a sweater--I think I was still pregnant. I can't for the life of me remember how I did it, but I have some with buttons coming up, and I'll keep this in mind. Thanks!

Olivia said...

I am definitely going to try your safety pin method. Love the socks for Beth. I am doing a pair for her too, and she does have large feet! nearly done now.

2paw said...

Oh, I know exactly what you mean, I only ever knew the Cable cast on!!
Lovely socks, the Blackrose ones are beautiful and LOOK luxurious!! Lovely sunny socks for you too.
My mum did the little safety pin thing, I tend to count rows but that isn't always successful. The safety pins is an excellent idea. I shall adopt it immediately!!
It was sunny earlier and I did a big load of washing and now, of course, it is RAINING!!!

Rose Red said...

I can't remember how I make the buttons match!! I think I use pins or count rows, but safety pins is an excellent idea!!

Leonie said...

Sending sunny thoughts your way...not that we have a lot of spare sun at the moment but you know it's the thought that counts!

Nice work on the buttons. I usually work on small stuff so placing buttons is just a matter of counting rows or stitches on the band to match.

MadMad said...

Oh, that Vine Yoke used a TERRIBLE amount of buttons, didn't it? Terrible. But I DID love your pin idea! Very handy! (Welcome back, BTW... I am having motivational issues of my own, truth be told, and I can't blame any rain!)

Bells said...

Great socks!

Buttons and button holes are quite problematic. I'm never happy. but this trick should help me quite a bit!

Kate (Kiss My Frog) said...

Well, I've certainly never heard of your safety-pin method, and I think it's total genius! I'll be sure to use it when next I sew on buttons. I'm contemplating a Tempest, and there are at least three Tomtens and a BSJ looming on the horizon.

Scrumptious socks, too. I'm knitting yellow socks and I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying it. For one thing, it's really easy to see what I'm doing, even when the light is crap (which is a pretty common problem lately with all this grey, wet, cold, miserable weather). Plus, it's a cheery colour (see above, re: grey, wet, cold, etc.).

Good to have you back, chick. My verification word is "SPOOKIPL". Heh.

Lynne said...

Thank you for sharing this. I always have that humpy look that happens when the buttons are badly placed so I have avoided cardigans for years. I have knitted Tomtens and sewn in zippers but only one BSJ because of the buttons!

So thank you - even if you didn't invent it, you deserve my thanks for thinking it was worth sharing!

Kate_knits_a_bit said...

Hey Tink, thanks for sharing your safety pin method! I'll try that for my next button fixation attempt :)
and the sun has come out just in time for dinner today - which I think is just mean.

Amy Lane said...

That's pretty awesome! And it beats what I do, which is buy buttons that don't work or are too small, mess up the placement, and then just throw the garment on the kid anyway and curse my lack of forethought every time I put it on.

PenCraft said...

great socks, and who cares if you invented or not. The safety pins are a fantastic idea and I will use this on the sweater that I am making now.

Donna Lee said...

That is a clever idea! I've used straight pins when sewing but have just winged it when knitting. This will make it more definite.

And I hear you about the rain....