crafts · Crochet · finished objects · outfits

Moth Wings Shrug

Pattern: Moth Wings Shrug, designed by Mimi Alelis (Interweave Crochet Summer 2010)

Yarn: Nazli Gelin Garden, a little over 2 balls

Size: 33″

Hook: 1.25 mm


Well, this took longer than expected!  I made this shrug for several reasons:

1. I wanted to practice crocheting from charts, because I have some Japanese patterns coming up in my queue

2. I accidentally bought the required yarn

3. I thought it would be quick

Don’t let the small size make you think quick – this is made up of individual motifs joined together, with an edging around the outside.  It took forever, and I was pretty over it by the time I was done.  I think it’s pretty – nicer than I was expecting, to tell you the truth!  I have a few notes about the pattern:

The gauge swatch calls for joining 4 motifs, blocking, and then measuring.  Yes, that’s a pain, but I recommend doing it.  I had to go down several hook sizes from the recommended size to get gauge.  I dislike the fact that your gauge is the only thing that determines which size you are making – the fabric looked best in the tighter gauge of the 30″ size, but that would have been too small.

I picked the 33″ size because it was an inch and a half bigger than my chest measurement.  I have broad shoulders, but this fits.  I was worried at first – you really can’t tell the size until after blocking!  I would recommend sizing up – the sleeves are also on the narrow side.

Let’s talk about blocking.  I blocked the piece flat before sewing the shoulder seam (I soaked it and then pinned it out.)  After completing the sleeves and collar I blocked it again – and then attacked the collar with my steam iron and some spray starch.  I recommend starching to collar to get it to stand up!

To make this shrug, you making motifs which are joined together on the 4th round.  This means that there were at least a hundred ends to weave in.  I don’t recommend waiting until the end to weave them in – do it as you go.

The yarn was lovely.  It shines beautifully, though it is on the more slippery side of cottons.  It could be compared to a size 5 crochet thread.  It’s definitely thicker than my size 10 threads, but finer than a fingering weight.  Be careful with tension – I found it hard to maintain a consistent tension with this thread.  I wonder if my tension issues are due to my technique?  I hold my hook like a knife, and I know some people hold it like a pencil – I just can’t get the hang of that!

It was a good project to get back into crochet, even if it took longer than I thought!  I have a love/hate relationship with the craft.  I love to do it, but I think it’s hard to find good designs.  I don’t like when crochet is used to imitate knitted fabric – it’s too dense.  It’s lovely in these sorts of lacy designs!  The pattern is recommended, but size up and be ready for it to take a while.

And, here is my whole outfit, for me-made June:

Dress: Thrifted

Shoes: Bass… I am really loving these shoes this summer!

crafts · Crochet · outfits · Sewing

Previews! (and me-made June days 9-11)

Believe it or not, the Moth wing shrug is finally complete.  I will have modeled photos (tomorrow, if I have time) but in the meantime here is the blocking shot:

So far the cat hasn’t showed any interest in these pins.  Maybe it will dry before he notices!  I do pin my garments directly to the guest room bed in order to block them – it’s the easiest way to get them spread out on a pinnable surface, since I don’t have blocking boards.

I have plans for this week – I want to cut and sew two different knit dresses:


The pink fabric is from Milly, one of my favorite clothing lines.  I have some upcoming weddings, and I think this would be a nice dress to wear to one.  The black is a simple rayon jersey – I want the dress to be a backdrop for pretty necklaces (I am totally copying Gigi’s version, though I don’t have any necklaces as lovely as those!)

Me-made June continues on – and for once I’m actually taking photos on the weekends!  I have three more days to show you, complete with my thoughts on the wearability of the garments.

Day 9

Dress: Simplicity 2219 (blogged here)

Shoes: Sofft

Pros: I love this dress.  Love it!  I think it’s my favorite right now.  It has such lovely motion when you walk in it, and it is so flattering!  I never fail to get compliments.  I wore this dress to an audition, and I think I got the part!

Cons: This dress has stretched in length.  I now have to wear it with heels, and it shows a bit more of my bra than it used to.  I did reinforce the shoulders, but that skirt is heavy!  I’m going to wash it (complete with a trip through the drier) and see if it goes back to normal, otherwise I will hem it again.

Styling: This dress doesn’t need much – even the bracelet is unnecessary!  I think some metal bangles would be a better match.

Day 10

Skirt: Burdastyle Jenny (blogged here.)

Top: Talbot’s, thrifted

Shoes: Chinese Laundry

Pros: I absolutely recommend making this pattern in a doubleknit – the fit is excellent, and it’s very flattering.  I plan to make it again soon in black, a suggestion I got in my last post, about comfort.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner – I will have the black pencil skirt of my dreams!

Cons: This particular fabric (from Joann’s last winter) tends to pill, and it hasn’t been washed that often.  My advice, if you have some, is to never, ever put this in the dryer.  I would also not leave out a zipper like I did – it’s a bit of a battle getting it on!

Styling: I bought this shirt specifically to wear this way (it’s an extra-large, but I wanted it oversized.)  It’s a lot of pattern, I know, but I’m not shy!  I’m trying out skinny belts right now – I love what this one does, creating the sort of faux peplum effect.  I’m not super thrilled with the shoes (in this outfit,) but they don’t compete with everything else going on.

Day 11

Sweater: Handknitted from a 1980s pattern, blogged here.

Shorts: Charlotte Russe

Shoes: Steve Madden

Pros: I actually think this sweater has become less dated since I made it (in 2007.)  It’s made from Berroco Glace, a rayon ribbon yarn.  It’s generally cool and light in hot weather.

Cons: I don’t have much call for this sort of sweater.  I also don’t wear warm browns like this anymore.  I prefer cool browns, like the shorts and shoes.

Styling: I find it odd that while I generally dislike how I look in pants, I’m totally fine with shorts.  Admittedly, these are pretty dressy, and I am wearing heels (wedges.)  The cool taupe of the shorts and shoes does not match the sweater that well, but I was only going to Joann’s and Whole Foods.   I’m not sure how much longer this sweater will stay in my wardrobe – while I do like it, I think it doesn’t suit me as well as I might like!


crafts · Crochet · outfits

Me-made June day 2: belted

Dress: Ann Taylor

Belt: Kwik Sew 3758, blogged here

Cardigan: thrifted

Shoes: Cole Haan

I really like this outfit, but it wasn’t what I was planning for today.  I planned to wear the dress that goes with the belt, Vogue 8631.  But… that dress has some issues (I do seem to be getting my problem garments out of the way early in the month!)  Basically, the dress is too big in the top/chest area.  I can’t wear a slip under it because it shows in the front, but I won’t wear it without a slip because I feel in constant danger of flashing the public.  The dress doesn’t really have any closures other than an inside tie and a hook and eye on the wrap.  I cannot imagine how that could be secure… and even with the belt the top gapes open, and I have fears about the bottom part.  I have a lot of wrap dress fear (too many years spent living/working near the windy waterfront!)  On the other hand, that belt?  Love it.  I don’t even care that the dress isn’t that wearable, because I got an awesome belt out of the deal!  I need to make even more of these belts, because they go with everything, and they are so comfortable!

I do have hope, by the way, for the dress.  I’m thinking of buying a slip made of knit material.  All of mine are silk and lacy, and I don’t think they work.  What I need is something with a built in bra that doesn’t come up too high on the chest, and I would be in business!

I wear a lot of black.  I think it suits me, because I’m so pale.  I really love to wear all black with a splash of something extremely bright, like a belt or a cardigan.  I used to not wear black at all, so it’s funny to realize how much of it I own – I have five black dresses, because  I keep buying them at thrift stores!

If you’ve read this far, here’s a photo of my crocheted shrug blocking.  It’s not finished, but I went ahead and blocked the back and sides (it still needs sleeves and edging.)  I gave it a soak in some peppermint Dr. Bronner’s (which I like for cottons) and then pin blocked it to open the motifs.  I can’t tell about the sizing yet, but it  looks like it should fit.

BTW, I caught my cat, the one who likes to sleep on wet things, pullingl out the pins with his teeth, presumably so that he could have a flat (wet) surface to lay on.  Apparently I now have to lock my blocking away from him entirely – cat hair I could deal with, but not him hurting himself!

If you’ve read this far

crafts · Crochet · knitting · Sewing

Mid week updates

I always have trouble updating during the week, because I am never free until so late at night.  Here is what’s going on this week!


I will be participating in the challenge again.  I’m actually pretty excited, because I haven’t really been able to wear my summer things for a challenge yet (and last year I didn’t have that many yet!)  I’m still on the “one item a day” pledge, mostly because that isn’t my goal in life (I enjoy thrifting too much, and besides there are some things I don’t want to make!)

I am already making an effort to wear my knitted/crocheted items more, as I did today:

I finished this capelet in January 2008 – yes, I have been blogging forever now!  This is the Chanson en Crochet capelet, which is from the book Wrap Style.  I don’t own the book, but it was free to download from Knitting Daily (I don’t know if that’s still the case!)  I remember there being a ton of errata on this thing, but it is really pretty (and perfect for our current turbulent weather!)

Moving on… this week’s sewing project is a combination refashion/ new make.  Here are the fabrics I’m using:

The print was a large scale ITY print from, and the black was formerly this dress:

I actually bought this dress new for an audition.  I feel like that sort of banding looks dated now, and the white had gotten all dingy and gray.  So I cut it up, and now I’m using both fabrics to make McCall’s 6070, in the maxi length.

I love the print, but it had problems.  Because it has strong lines running through the print, I thought it looked funny without being matched… but I was not matching that print.  So I’m using the print for the skirt and ties, and the black (a really lovely rayon knit) for the bodice and waistband.  I’m nearly halfway done.  I haven’t had much time this week – I have a writing deadline coming up, and I also took some time to add elbow patches to a friend’s jacket before he goes abroad later this week.  The patches were pretty entertaining – I’ve never done them before, and I’m proud of how they came out!  But it took forever, seriously.  I do not think I have a job as a pro tailor in my future.

That’s my update for today – I hope to be back with a finished dress, and perhaps my crocheted shrug, later this week!

crafts · Crochet · knitting · Sewing

Progress reports

Oops – I didn’t mean to be silent all week!  We have a condo that we rent out, and this week was spent repairing the damage from the last tenants before the new ones got there (today.)  It wasn’t that they were destructive, but I’m not sure they ever cleaned, so it basically took all my free time this week (we also installed several new light fixtures and some plumbing, which takes a great deal of time when you’re me!)

I barely got in any sewing time, in part because I’m in a fight with this dress:

I’m not happy with the midriff band, which sits in an odd place on me.  I’m going to set this aside for a bit to regroup, and work on something else.

I have had some time for knitting and crocheting:

This is the beginning of the Moth Wings shrug.  I have a limit on how much I can crochet at once (about one square a night) due to hand issues, but eventually it will be done!  I quite enjoy using these double ended Japanese (Hamanaka brand) hooks.  I had some difficulty getting gauge, and had to go down several sizes, to a 1.25 mm hook (tiny!)

A non-recent photo of my progress on the Anais sweater.  I have completed the back, and I’m halfway up the left front.  The pattern is really fun, and easy to memorize!

I’m considering my next dress project… probably it will be a knit, as I’ve just had two finicky wovens!

crafts · Crochet · Sewing

Stopping before I even get started…

I think I’m not going to be making Butterick 5600 right now.  This is an example of how frustrating it is when finished bust sizes aren’t printed on the pattern envelope.  When I got the tissue out, I realized that the smallest bust size of this dress would have almost 8 inches of ease on me (and wouldn’t fit in the hips, so I’d have to grade out three sizes!)  I know it’s meant to be blousy, but I know my own frame well enough to know that I cannot wear something with that much ease without looking like I’m playing dress-up.  Belting can only do so much!  So I’m putting that away right now, and thinking of other projects.

This is Vogue 8469, one of their “Very Easy, Very Vogue” patterns.  I bought some lovely black voile from Fabricmart during their sale last week, and I plan to make the sash and midriff in the contrasting color.  If I have a break today (not likely, but you never know!) I will cut the pattern.  I think I can manage without a muslin… famous last words, I know, but here’s hoping!

Another thing that spring brings to mind for me is crochet.  I learned to crochet before I could knit, and it’s something I have always loved to do.  Unfortunately, it’s somewhat hard to find decent crochet patterns.  I personally don’t like crochet in thick yarns, which is what many US patterns call for (I do love to make doilies, but that’s another topic…)  I have a ton (really, a ton) of Japanese crochet and knitting publications, and those have great crochet patterns for thin yarns.  Since I haven’t done much crocheting lately, I’m going to start with a pattern in English (the diagrams in the Japanese books still scare me!)

This is the Moth Wings Shrug, published in Interweave Crochet magazine last year.  I managed to accidentally buy the called for yarn last week – I thought it was pretty, and I thought of making a doily (for my planned “wall of framed doilies,”) but then I realized that this pattern actually calls for this yarn (well, thread really… this is about equivalent to #10 crochet thread.)  I think this will be a lovely topper for sleeveless summer dresses.  It’s made of individual square motifs, which are joined with slip stitches as you go (much better than having a million ends to weave in later!)

So that’s my plans for the week.  I’m also working on that buttonband tutorial – it may be next week before I get it up, as this weekend is the Kentucky Derby, and I live right in the midst of it.  I have a friend coming in town to stay with us for the festivities, and parties to attend (though we will not actually be going to the race… I am not really a racing fan at all, I just like the resulting parties, where people wear silly hats and then remember why they swore to never drink another mint julep.)

crafts · Crochet · finished objects

FO: Ashlar crochet cardigan

Pattern: Ashlar Crochet Cardigan, by Robin Chachula, available free here.

Yarn: Cascade 220 heathers in Jet (Main color,) Kansas, and Deep sea.  Regular Cascade 220 in Siena.

Hook: E (3.5 mm?)

Notes: I had a really hard time getting photos of this sweater – it was too sunny and awfully windy.  But I think you get the idea!  I really love how this turned out.  I decided to make it because I loved the idea of a traditional round yoked cardigan done crochet style, and I am not disappointed at all!  Cascade 220 is a great yarn to crochet with – it’s economical (important for crochet, which eats yarn) yet all natural.

I had a pretty hard time making it through the yoke – written crochet directions are long, so I prefer charts – but the charts in this case were hard for me because it sometimes showed all the repeats, and sometimes not, making for much confusion.  I will also say that the gauge swatch was useless, since it seems that the sweater doesn’t really use the rows of the swatch pattern in order.  I ended up dropping 3 hook sizes from my swatch to get the correct size.  I recommend casting on, doing  a few rows, and then measuring your back neck length – that’s what I had to do.  Fortunately crochet is quick.  It’s also important to count your stitches after every row of the yoke – I kept forgetting to do that, and then having to rip back.

I mostly followed the pattern, with one important deviation.  The pattern calls for using hooks and eyes to close the sweater, with dummy buttons sewed to the outside.  I liked the idea of the dummy buttons, but I hate hooks and eyes.  They are really hard to sew on, and they never stay shut for me.  So I just sewed  the yoke shut – it’s not as though I’m going to want to wear this thing open anyway.  The neck opening is wide enough that it easily goes over my head.  I used 2 big yellow-ish buttons that I have been saving for years – they were too big to function, but perfect for this project!

I ended up with something like a 33″ bust – a little bigger than the pattern because my fronts do not overlap at all.  The yoke rides up a little sometimes, but not more than anything with a round yoke.  I think this is easily the nicest crocheted garment I have made!

crafts · Crochet · Life

At least it will be funny someday…

It’s been a crazy weekend, you might say.  Friday night, Marc and I went to the opera (we love opera, and one of my best friends works for the opera company, so we’re supporting!)

I especially love dressing up.  It was la Traviata, not my favorite (a bit too much dying of consumption for my taste) but the cast was phenomenal!

Saturday we made a trek to Cincinnati, to see Marc’s parents and go to Ikea (I finally got a new dressing table, and I am super excited to get my stuff out of the bathroom where guests and students can’t see it!)

We got back pretty late, and went to bed.  We woke up at 4 am to the sound of someone opening our front door.  I woke up Marc, who armed himself with our only real weapon, a fire extinguisher, and called 911.  We stayed shut it our room, as we heard someone coming up the stairs.  I don’t mind saying that I was completely terrified!  The police arrived and, as it turned out, there was a drunk stranger passed out in the bed in our guest room.  One of the policemen attempted to calm me by saying “don’t worry, we get this sort of thing all the time!” which was somewhat less than comforting.  Of course, the guy had decided that it would be a good idea to lose his pants in our foyer, so our neighbors got to witness someone without pants being dragged out of our house at 4:30 am.

As it turns out, I had left the keys in the front door when we got back so late, and the drunk thought he had made it to his friends’ house near us (and they had thoughtfully left the keys!)  Don’t ask me how he failed to notice that he was not even faintly in the right house.  He called this morning to apologize profusely and with much embarrassment.

I love my neighborhood, and wouldn’t leave it for anything, but tomorrow we are so getting an alarm system, so as to avoid more confused drunks!

Ahem… I have also been crocheting, although not since Friday!  After crocheting the yoke of my sweater at least twice, I’m on the body, which is pretty smooth sailing.

If you make this pattern, be sure to count your stitches after each row of the yoke – I could have saved myself so much trouble that way.

Happy Monday everyone – here’s hoping for a great week!

crafts · Crochet · knitting

Crocheting again

I’m trying out a new crochet hook  – metal tips with square wooden handles by kollage.  I will say that I didn’t have any aching wrists after doing what you see above last night!  My pinky got a little stiff, probably from wrapping around the square, but not in a bad way – more in a “I don’t use this muscle” kind of way.

The pattern (found here) gave me some issues.  I had a really hard time getting gauge, and ended up dropping from and H to an E hook.  That’s a big drop, but I do find that this designer’s patterns tend to be like that for me.  I also had trouble reading the pattern, as I found I needed info found in both the written directions and the chart, and neither were as clear as I would have liked.  I’ve finally worked it out, and hopefully I’m on my way now!

I bought the Colourscape Folk collection for my next knit sweater, but first I have to finish a pair of socks for my MIL’s birthday.  Maybe.  I’m not sure – I’m so lousy at obligation knitting.  I always run out of motivation.  I try not to tell anyone I’m making them a gift, because then I feel pressure, but this time I forgot!

Hope everyone is having a great Monday!

crafts · Crochet · knitting

Retro crochet, and new knitting

I finally got a copy of the new Interweave Crochet, which I have talked about here before.  It’s full of great projects with a sort of retro, dreamy air.  I love it when they go that direction, because that’s the side of crochet I fell in love with – the retro lacy side, not the cutesy side.  I was happy to realize that I already had the yarn called for in the “retro cardigan” by Simona Merchant-Dest (Classic Elite Sundance.)

I’m still waffling on what size to make, but I’m leaning towards the smallest – the model in the photo is wearing the 2nd smallest, and I am smaller than her I think – and I like the way it fits her, so I should go down a size.  My yarn is actually a sort of faded red, not bright the way it looks in the photo.  I hope it comes out – the instructions are a little frustrating so far, as crochet often is if not charted.

I’m also starting another sweater tonight after work – the smock top  that I showed you all the other day.  I got a lot of questions as to what book it is in – it’s from “Make it modern,” released spring 08 by Classic Elite (book #9086.)

I’m hoping to finally use up this shine sport in Aquamarine – I may have to make the smallest size at a larger gauge, as I find shine sport to be on the heavy side of sport weight.  I got this yarn in my very first purchase from Knitpicks, and have been trying to use it up ever since!  Shine sport isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s a nice enough yarn.  I’m going to knit in the round at least until the cabled section, which should make the stockinette go fast.

Thanks for the camera suggestions – I’m looking at a Canon rebel (used or refurbished) but nothing is finalized yet.  My current camera has taken to make crazy lines across half my pictures, which is driving me crazy.  It hasn’t been the same since Leon knocked it off the mantel last year!