Thursday, July 26, 2012

FO: Euphrosyne shawl

I finished this beautiful shawl last week. 

Pattern: Euphrosyne by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops.  It's all-over lace with a lovely knit on border.

Process:  Very straightforward and enjoyable.  Although I am just noticing now as I'm looking at the photos that I've not done a very good blocking job!  See how all the little points on the edging are, well, pointy?  If you look at the photos on the pattern page, each little yarn over all along the edge has been blocked out completely, giving it a slightly more scalloped, consistent look.  I, however, used blocking wires, threading the wire through each point only.  Darn it.  I really should re-block it. 

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool Silk.  I bought this during my first visit to Kanawah City Yarn Co., a really awesome LYS in Charleston, WV.  I love the color of this yarn.  It's very raspberry.  The yarn is light and airy, but not skimpy.  I just loved it and would absolutely use it again.  Plus, I think ti was about $13, and you can't beat that.  Well, I mean, you can, but why would you?

What I learned:  That I should double check my blocking process.  

Product: I love it!

Ravelry page here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

FO: Sorbetto #2

 When it comes to knitting, I very rarely repeat patterns.  There are so many things I want to make, and once I'm finished with something, I want a new experience. 

With sewing, though, I can see myself repeating patterns over and over again.  Why is that?  Is it because it's harder for me to get the fit right with sewing, so there's a lot of value in working on something several times to get it right?  Is it because sewn garments are more common in my wardrobe than knitwear, which are usually unique pieces?  Who knows.  Don't over think it, Meredith. 

Anyway, I made another Sorbetto! 

My first was too tight through the bust, so I cut one size larger there, but kept the waist and hip the same.  So I did a 12 at the bust, grading out to a 14 at the waist and a 16 at the hip.  Do you think it fits better?  There are some faint wrinkles on the straps.  What's up with that?

I used a London Calling floral cotton lawn from which I love love love.  From far away, it reads very light and pink, but up close, it's a little more vibrant. 

I think this will be a great summer and fall top.  I have some MerLin in that aqua color to make a Goodale cardigan.  I think I'll start that as soon as the Ravellenic Games are over.  I can't wait!

I wore this yesterday with a skirt I made but didn't blog, McCalls 5523

I'm sure I'll make another Sorbetto.  Next time, I'll work on fitting the back just a bit better.  Bra straps anyone?  Oh well. 

Next up: one last maxi dress for the summer!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good as new!

After a very simple and enjoyable ripping, winding, washing and hanging, here is the yarn from my Wood Hollow Vest, all ready to be wound into cakes and cast on!

Just a few hands on minutes, plus two days of drying time took this:

to this:

Isn't wool amazing?  I love it.

I'm all ready to cast on!  Bring on the opening ceremonies!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reclaiming yarn: Easier than it looks!

Have you ever put something off because you thought it would (a) take forever, or (b) be really difficult, or (c) both?  And then finally talked yourself into finishing the task and found that it was (d) no big deal at all?  That was me and frogging this vest.  I've been thinking about that thing for two years.  Two years, people!  And the whole thing took about half an hour, and was really pretty fun.  Two years of thinking about something that took 30 minutes.  Why do we do that to ourselves?

Here's what I did.

I used a yarn swift to hold the yarn and wind it into a hank.  I pulled about 3 yards off the sweater, then wound it on to the hank.  Trying to wind it directly from the sweater would make the yarn too taut, and would also be very fiddly. 

If you don't have a yarn swift, you can use the back of a chair.  Just make sure that the sides of the back of the chair are parallel, or angled in towards each other.  If the sides are angled away from each other, if the chair back gets wider as it goes up, it will be nearly impossible to remove the yarn after you've wound hundreds of yards.  I know of which I speak. 

When I'd wound about 100 grams (about two balls of the Wool of the Andes), I tied it up in four places using some scrap cotton yarn.  I'd just started a fifth ball of this yarn, so I wound the sweater into two hanks.  

You sort of make a figure 8 with the cotton through the yarn.  Well, a figure 8 with another loop on top.  So really, more of a figure snowman. 

Look how crinkly the yarn is!  You can't knit with that!  Not without driving yourself mad. 

It does look sort of awesome though, doesn't it?


To get all the crinkle out, you have to wash it.  Washing unknit yarn sounded like a scary prospect to me--oh! the tangles!--but since I'd tied it well, it was not a crisis.  It was as easy as washing a sweater.

After squeezing--not wringing!-- the yarn and wrapping it up in a towel and stepping on it, I hung it to dry, using a couple of skirts on hangers as weights to pull out the crimping.  I think I'll wear the vest with this khaki skirt this fall!  Ooh, with boots and tights.  And the sky will be blue and the leaves will be beautiful and it will be a delicious 55 degrees and not 194 and sticky and terrible like it is now. 

I let it hang about 24 hours, rotating the hank so it dried evenly and didn't get re-crimped from the two hangers.  Then I let the hank rest on my ironing board for another day or so to rest.  The yarn really plumped up again, and looks like no one ever even thought about knitting a gigantic sweater with it. 

I'll show you the finished hanks tomorrow! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Revving up for the Ravellenic Games

The world's biggest Knit-a-long is less than two weeks away!  It's time to get ready. 

My challenge for the Ravellenic Games is to reknit a UFO that I put aside because it was miserably huge.  Like, would have had 8 inches of positive ease huge!  The pattern is the Wood Hollow Vest by Kirsten Kapur, one of my favorite designers. 

I started this about six months after my daughter was born, so I hadn't quite returned to pre-baby measurements yet.  That was problem number one.  Problem number two is that the pattern runs large to begin with.  You might expect me to say that problem number three is that I wasn't getting gauge, but here's the crazy thing.  My gauge was spot on.  I was making the size 40, and the front of my vest was exactly 20 inches.  With all the cabling, though, that 20 inches stretches to about 26 inches.  

Based on the portion that I've already knit, I'm thinking that I'll reknit it in a 32.  A 32!  I usually make between a 37 and 39.  This thing is so stretchy that I don't think a 32 will be a problem.  Other Ravelers have had problems with the vest coming out too big, and Kirsten does say that she intended the vest to be worn with positive ease.  I just like my vests to be a bit snug. 

The first step is to frog!  I should really wash the yarn, too, and hang it to get rid of the crimp.  After that, it will need a few days to rest and get some of the sproingyness back.  I better get busy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FO: Vermont shawl

Pattern: Vermont Shawl by Hanna Breetz.  It's a semi-circular shawl with three leaf patterns, increasing in size and scale.  The increase in stitch count is magically worked over a few rows between patterns, providing a very graceful transition between the different motifs.  It's really excellently crafted. 

Process: This was fun to knit and actually not very complicated.  The pattern calls for you to repeat the last chart twice, and even though it was about a 40 stitch pattern, I was able to memorize it.  It did feel like I might still be knitting it at my retirement dinner, because those last rows were really, really l o n g. 

Product: I just think this shawl is beautiful.  I love how the leaves grow larger as they drift down the shawl.  I'm not exactly sure how to wear it, though, because it's so big.  I usually wear my smaller shawls around my neck almost like scarves.  Can I do that with this one?  And do I wear this in the summer or winter?  Or spring or fall, more like?  I really knit this for the challenge of knitting it, but it's so beautiful that I do want to wear it.  I just don't want to look like a 1950s granny. 

Yarn: Juniper Moon Farm Findley  This yarn is amazing, one of the most wonderful yarns I've worked with.  The colors are very rich and saturated, it has a smooth hand and the drape is somehow heavy and light at the same time.  It has substance to it, but it's also graceful.  I look forward to using it again. 

What I learned: Hmm, I used a new bind off, actually.  My mom just bought me the new Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor, so I tried several of the bind offs recommended for lace.  I ended up using the Icelandic Bind Off, and it worked perfectly.  It's very stretchy, but still has some structure to it. 

Ravelry page here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FO: McCalls 4769 shirtdress

I don't know what's going on with me lately, but the FOs are flying off the needles!  I started this McCalls 4769 shirtdress about a month ago, but stalled out after I finished the collar.  I was afraid of putting the buttons on and ruining the dress with sloppy finish work.  I finally overcame my fear, and now I have a new dress!

My husband took these pictures about 4:00 pm, during the three minutes we were both home at the same time.  It was very bright and sunny! 

I used a blue and lavendar seersucker from Harts Fabric, and instead of buttons, I used lavendar snaps!  This was not my unique idea; I shamelessly used mystitchnbitch's version as inspiration.  At the last minute, I almost decided to scrap the snap idea and go with buttons.  I had the snaps, so I tested them on a swatch to help me make my decision, and I instantly loved them.  So snaps it was. 

Let's see.  It was so long since I started this dress, I can't remember any of the details.  Did I cut a 16 at the bust and a 20 at the waist?  I think so.  And I added at least 2 inches, but maybe 3.  Or 4. 

A lot of people on pattern review had trouble with the collar and the instructions.  I goofed one side of it, but figured it out by the time I got to the other side, so I only had to rip one side one time.  It was quite a bit fiddly, but it wasn't super complicated.  I think it came out really well, and I'm pretty excited that I made a collar!  I want to hang a sign around my neck that says, "I made this collar!"

This is a great dress for summer.  It's comfortable and very wearable, but also looks a bit dressy and pulled together.  Now I need some accessory help.  I think it needs a bigger necklace maybe? 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quelle queue!*

I thought I'd revisit the knitting and sewing plan I made for myself two weeks ago to see where I am.

The Plan

July 1 -- Buy fabric for skirt. 
     It arrived today and ohmygoodness I can't wait to start this skirt!

July 1 -- Buy yarn for Cinnie cardi 
     It came on Saturday, and I'll start it this week sometime.

July 1 -- Make a commitment to a lace project with the purple alpaca
     Hmm.  This I didn't really do.  I'm not feeling the alpaca lace at the moment.  But I did recommit to the Eyphrosyne by Kirsten Kapur.  I should be finishing up the border this week!  I'm using the most gorgeous yarn in the perfect raspberry shade. 

Before July 1 -- Finish shirtdress
     Just hemmed it this evening!  Pictures tomorrow!

Before July 1 -- Finish Caeles top
     Finished!  I wore it today. 

Before July 1 -- Renfrew Top?
     Yep!  Finished it also! 

It wasn't on my list, but I also managed to toss together a Sorbetto.  

So what's the new plan? 

1.  Finish Eyphrosyne by July 11
2.  Finish Cinnie before the Ravellenic Games
3.  Start Simplicity 2215 skirt before July 13
4.  Make another Sorbetto or another dress (I have the pattern but can't remember the number)
5.  Blog the two lace shawls that I blocked last week.

That will definitely fill my time between now and the opening ceremonies in London.  I love having a plan.  I feel so focused and productive!

* I took French in high school, but I can't remember: is queue masculine or feminine?  If it's actually masculine, then please read as "Quel queue!" 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

FO: Sorbetto

It's hot.  Really hot.  And that calls for a new summer shirt.  I thought I'd try out the Sorbetto, Colette's free pattern, with some fabric I already had.  My mom gave me this beautiful fabric along with a pattern a year or two ago, but I thought it might make a nice Sorbetto instead. 

I like this top a lot, and a lot more than I thought I would.  It's perfect for steamy summer days.  I've only worn it casually, but I think it might be nice with a skirt for work days, too.  I will definitely be making more, especially since the fit on this one is not quite right. 

I cut a 10 at the bust, grading to a 14 at the waist and a 16 at the hip.  I think next time I'll cut a 12 at the bust, since there is no ease and it's pulling a bit.  It's not so bad that I won't wear it, though.  I'll also shorten the dart length by about 1.5 inches. 

See the wrinkles at the bust?  Too tight!
I made bias tape for the bindings.  The bias tape bindings was a new technique for me, and I love how it turned out.  This top took far longer than the hour many people say it took them, but that's okay.  I'll be making more for sure!  It's a great top for looking pulled together in a very casual, cool way. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

FO: Caeles top

PatternCaeles by Hilary Smith Callis, published in Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2012.  It's a basic top down tank made special by the dramatic Snow White's Evil Stepmother collar.  The collar and sleeve caps make use of short rows.  There's no seaming, but there is a lot of finishing work, as the collar, sleeves and hems all require sewing live stitches to the fabric.

Process: I love short rows!  So fun.  This was a breeze to knit, since it's mostly stockinette in the round. I knit it as part of a KAL hosted by Webs yarn store.  I also love finishing work, so that was fun. 

Product: I'm really happy with this FO.  I was a little dubious about a worsted weight top for summer, but I think it will be okay.  It will definitely be great for spring.  And I love love love this color. 

Yarn: Valley Yarns Goshen.  I am not a fan of cotton and I always swear I'm never going to use it.  But when May comes around, I lose motivation to knit wool things that I won't wear for 5 months, and I start wondering about knitting some summer patterns.  Goshen was on sale, so I took a chance.  I think I might have had a change of heart about cotton!  I think this yarn looks a little sophisticated, and it didn't hurt my hands at all.  It was very pleasant to knit with--I didn't have any splitting issues.  I'd use it again. 

What I learned: I learned how to do a turned hem and sew live stitches to the back of the knitted fabric.  The videos on the Webs blog helped a ton and made it easy peasy. 

Ravelry page: here

Monday, July 2, 2012

FO: McCalls 6073 Maxi Dress

It is hotter than hot here.  As someone from the arid West, I just don't know how women in the south do it.  After an hour of this humid heat, I very closely resemble a soggy washcloth.  How to the Paula Deans of the world survive the summer with their hair and makeup looking like it came straight from a debutant ball?  The only way I know to cope is dresses.  And lots of hair rubber bands.

This maxi dress is perfect for hot days.  It's basically as comfortable as wearing pajamas, and the flowy skirt means nothing is sticking to my legs.  This is the second time I've made this dress.  The first time, it fit okay except for the bust.  See?

There was just too much fabric, and the cross over panels flopped open every time I sat down.  I tried to fix it by running some elastic along the neckline binding, but that was only minimally successful and maximally frustrating.  (I never get frustrated with my knitting, but working on that neckline made me want to padlock the sewing room door and forget the whole thing even existed.)

So I found this most excellent Small Bust Adjustment tutorial from The Slapdash Sewist, and I'm pretty sure it's changed my life.  This is why I want to sew: I want to have clothes that fit well and make me look great.  Yes, there are things about my body that, in a perfect world, might be nice if they were, well, more perfect.  I'll still hold out hope that maybe someday I'll look a bit different, but in the meantime, I just want to feel great in my clothes.  So while I'm sort of 10% annoyed that I have to do a SBA in the first place, I'm 90% thrilled that I figured out how to do it successfully.  There is hope for all future garments! 

Half an hour later, my pattern piece looked like this:

The finished garment looks like this:

I look so annoyed!  Remember, that's heat and humidity all over my face.  Inside, I'm still beaming that I fixed a pattern so it fits me well.  I used a zig-zag print from Gorgeous Fabrics, which I've since seen at Joanns, although in a different colorway.

I love the detail of the elastic at the shoulder seams.  The pattern also has elastic in a casing at the waistline, which supports the weight of the skirt.  I added about 3 inches to the skirt, and I haven't hemmed it.

Look at that bodice!  And the mostly matching stripes!

I think I'll be living in this dress for the rest of the summer. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

FO: Renfrew top!

I finally made a Renfrew top!

The pattern was easy, quick and fun.  I can see myself making a lot more of these, especially for fall and winter layering pieces. 

The fabric is a stretchy something-or-other.  It's a cotton interlock from Harts Fabric. It's substantially thick, which makes for a nice shirt, but not so heavy I won't wear it on hot summer days.  The fabric did this weird wrinkly thing in the white stripes.  I'm not sure what's going on there.

I think I did a good job matching up stripes on the sides, but not on the arms, obviously.  I'm not losing sleep over it.

I cut a 10 through the bust, then a 12 at the waist and a 14 at the hips, and I think it fits perfectly. 

This pattern was very easy, but the finished product looks clean and tailored.  It was the perfect project for my week, which was so full I had almost no time or brainpower left over for knitting or sewing intricate things.  Things are calming down a bit this week, so I'm going to revisit my goals list and see what I can get done!