crafts · knitting · patterns

Now with actual knitting content!

You may be asking yourselves “Didn’t she used to knit?”  Well, I do still knit, though obviously not as much lately.  But here’s the thing… I have 90 bajillion sweaters, and I’ve wanted to really focus the last few months on amping up my sewing skills, with the aim of making most of my wardrobe handmade, both sweaters and clothes (at some point in the distant future!)  And I am probably more of a product crafter than a process crafter – I enjoy knitting and sewing or I wouldn’t do them, but I am more focused on the end result than the process.  So knitting has fallen by the wayside.  I knew that when the time was right I would want to start a new sweater – no way could I give up something that has been such a great part of my life!    Lately,  I’ve been missing it, especially after the beetle debacle, but it’s taken til now to get everything out of cold storage and sorted away.

I wanted to start a little cardigan to go with all the great sundresses I’ve been making, so during the Project Runway finale (so happy with the outcome of this season!) I cast on:

This is Dawn, from Kim Hargreaves’ Breeze book.  I am creating a smaller size, since I think the XS would be big on me, and the stitch pattern is stretchy.  I actually bought the yarn for this (Rowan handknit cotton) when I got the book, but I’ve only just now gotten around to it.  I originally thought it would be great with my current dress project, but that’s what I get for knitting at night… this yarn is clearly ivory and not white.  But that’s ok – it will go with everything that isn’t white, and I look better in ivory than in white.

I love this book… I’ve made several of the sweaters, and still have more planned!  I’m planning to get Kim’s new book soon.  I skipped her last winter one, because I was a little burned out on patterns (what?) but I’m over that now.  I’ll probably get that one as well – because in spite of the expense of these books, I use the heck out of them.   The styles are classic and do not date.  Look at these beautiful sweaters!

Lovely!  I am resolved to knit with more cotton – I find that I wear my cotton sweaters more, as they don’t overheat me… and are unattractive to bugs (yes, I am scarred.)  Let’s face it, I don’t exactly live in the arctic circle, and I have a few sweaters (Vaila is one) that are almost always too warm.  And since I’m sewing as well, and splitting my time, I don’t hurt my wrists on the cotton.  I am actually amazed that I have managed to knit as much as I do and be a pianist without developing carpal tunel… though if I had to guess I would say that I don’t carry much tension in my hands or wrists, which may help?  I do have tendinitis from long ago, but as long as I don’t go crazy with the knitting (as I sometimes have) it’s ok.

Now we will see how long it takes me to finish this one.  The pattern is straightforward, but there are a lot of P2togs, which tend to slow me down.  I worry that it might be a bit of a slog, but hopefully it will be worth it!

crafts · Sewing

She’s here!

Introducing my Singer 500A, Doris!

I’ve named her after Doris Day, of course.  I love her films with Rock Hudson, and they are from the same time period as the new machine!

I’d say this machine was in great cosmetic condition.  There are only a few tiny tings in the paint, and a little cracking on the feet underneath.  I haven’t tried yet to shine up the gold printing, but I’m pretty sure it will clean up.  However, when this machine arrived a week ago, it was immediately apparent to me that it had one big problem – whoever owned the machine before had been oiling it with something that was distinctly not sewing machine oil.  It was probably WD-40 or similar, and you should not use those in machines – over time they freeze up the works!  It sewed, but the bobbin winder didn’t turn, and the feed dogs were cranky… really cranky.  She needed to be totally cleaned out and relubricated, so  I took her into “my guy” at the sewing center for a checkup.  (He’s “my guy” because the 500a is his favorite machine, and he congratulated me on buying one!)  I could have cleaned it out myself, but to be honest I don’t have a place that’s great for doing that kind of deep cleaning – plus I really wanted a professional to go over the machine and make sure nothing else was wrong.  He ended up replacing the stitch plate, because the old one had some big nicks in it, and he fixed the broken front door hinge.  But other than that, he gave her a clean bill of health!

You can see above a test on a double layer of denim.  The stitch quality is really beautiful – completely even and balanced.  Honestly, the straight stitch blows poor Audrey the Bernina out of the water.

The 500A is the blue thread above, and I sewed a parallel line next to it in white with the Bernina (on the right… the other white line is something else.)  Sorry it’s hard to see, but the stitches are lovely!  The stitching underneath is nice too:

In this photo the 500a is the black thread, and the Bernina is white.  Beautiful! Does it matter?  Probably not, but I am thrilled!

I have a few more projects to complete on the machine before it’s totally up to speed.  I want to thoroughly clean the exterior, as I mentioned.  I’m not sure yet what I should use, but I will find out!  I also need to clean the other feet I got with the machine  – a ruffler, an edgestitcher, and some unidentified parts.  They are very faintly rusty, and I’m going to soak them in Evaporust.  Luckily, no rust at all in the machine, in spite of coming from humid Florida!

And then, after that I will be up and running!  I would like to stitch my next project as much as possible on the 500a, to get used to the feel (I actually like the weird pedal – it’s a sort of button that you operate with your foot rather than the clamshell style.)  An all mechanical machine is different, and I will say that I miss the needle up/down button!  And I don’t have a buttonholer yet, so I will do buttonholes on the Bernina.   Still, I’m excited to get going!

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a preview of my sundress!  I have had some trials with the pattern, which I will write about later.  It needs hemming and buttonholes, thus the extra strings in this photo.  I do clip my threads, I swear!  But not serger threads right away, so that’s what most of those are, along with basting from the underlining.  I hope to have photos on Sunday!