crafts · knitting · Life · Sewing

Exciting things afoot!

I’m very excited to finally tell you all that I’ve been published!


I was asked to interview the featured designer for the Winter 2011 issue of Knitscene magazine.  I had a great time doing the interview and writing up the profile.  Alexis designed the  Figurehead shawl, which I mention starting in the article.  I love her designs in the issue, in particular a really neat sweater dress.  I recommend checking it out!

I have long harbored a secret dream of writing for publication, and I’m hoping this is the first of many opportunities.

My other news?  I’m going back to school!

Due to several issues, I left college with one class remaining for my degree.  Yes… I am that person.  I’ve finally decided that now is the time to finish what I started, so I will be taking my last class and graduating in the spring.  I have felt ashamed for years that I didn’t graduate, so embarrassed that I avoided dealing with the problem for years.   I have several friends who have been instrumental in convincing me that this is where I need to be, and I am very grateful they are in my life!

I had planned to work on getting my sewing room back together this weekend, but I traveled to sing a wedding instead.  I’m hoping to get things in place, because I’m really feeling the itch to make something!  I’ve been knitting on my Kirra sweater, but it’s slow going and a lot of waffle stitch.  I hope to finish soon, because I keep imagining what to wear it with.  Not to mention, it’s been cold, and I’m ready for some sweaters! .

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, with more crafting that I have managed!







crafts · finished objects · knitting · Sewing

Two finishes: Anais and Beignet

I finally managed to get photos of my most recent projects – luckily they go well together!  I’ll talk about the skirt first, and put the sweater pattern review at the end of the post.

Pattern: Beignet from Colette patterns

Fabric: Rayon/poly/lycra blend, purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics

Notions: 12 7/8″ buttons

I first made this pattern in January 2010.  I loved that version, but to be totally honest it was never that comfortable.  The twill fabric didn’t have any give to it, and it wrinkled really easily.  I decided to make this pattern again, correcting some of the newbie mistakes I made in the original.  I chose to use a stretch woven, and I am a believer in them now!  This skirt is really comfortable – not at all like the other, and making me feel better about the concept of pencil skirts in general!

I chose to make this skirt pretty plain – no belt loops, sash, or lining.  I used self-fabric interfacing, because I didn’t want to lose the stretchy properties of the fabric.  I cut a size 6, but I ended up taking it in a bit, ending with around a size 4, give or take.

The thing that surprises me the most is how flattering it is.  I have always avoided pencil skirts, afraid of emphasizing the imbalance between top and bottom.  It may be the black effect, but I don’t think this does that at all!  It just goes to show that it’s worth trying different silhouettes.  It also shows that, as always, the voice inside your head whispering how terrible you will look in something… well, it may not be super accurate, is all I’m suggesting.  After I finished this I avoided trying it on for days because I was sort of convinced it would be awful.  I liked it so much that I immediately wore it out to dinner!

Now onto the other half of the outfit…

Pattern: Anais by Kim Hargreaves, from her book “Breeze”

Yarn: Cascade Ultra pima, 2.5 skeins

Needles: US 5 and 6

Size:  34

Notes:  I feel like this took ages, but the actual knitting time was short.  I am very easily distracted lately, and I do like to let my hands rest sometimes!  I love this sweater.  It’s exactly what I wanted – the color is rich, it stretches to fit without distorting the pattern, and it went together very easily.

I’m a big fan of Kim Hargreaves, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned about a thousand times – I think her patterns are classic yet full of pretty details.  This sweater will not date, unlike, say, the five swing style sweaters I made a few years ago!  The stitch pattern was easily memorized – after the second repeat I only had to check for shapings.

Yarn:  Love it.  Seriously, I have knit with a lot of cotton, and this is my favorite one.  It’s got a beautiful sheen, it doesn’t pill or split, and it’s soft to the touch.  The price was great for the yardage – something like $9 for 220 yards.   It didn’t hurt my hands, which is an accomplishment for cotton!  I also think it would work well for crochet, as it didn’t split, twist, or otherwise behave oddly.  I used it to seam the sweater up with no trouble at all.  I washed the sweater on the handwash cycle in my frontloader, and blocked it flat.  No pilling at all.  I wouldn’t throw it in the dryer or anything, but it isn’t super delicate.

Alterations:  The back piece is actually from the size 32.  I switched to a larger size for the front and sleeves.  I know Kim’s patterns well enough to know that I need  a larger size in the sleeves than in the back.  I also wanted to make sure that the front buttonband wouldn’t gape.  To that end, I knit both buttonbands plain, and then machine sewed my buttonholes.  Here they are:

The white stuff is leftover stabilizer, as this photo is pre-blocking.  The thread is machine embroidery thread, because it was shiny and matched the yarn.  Here is what I did, in case anyone is curious:

1. I knit an extra swatch of buttonband to practice on – you don’t want to make mistakes on your finished sweater!
2. I pinned wash away stabilizer (solvy) to both the front and back.  I measured my button and marked a buttonhole that was the length of my button plus 1/4″ (this may vary of course!)

3. I reduced the presser foot pressure to almost nothing, and sewed the buttonhole using my buttonhole foot at the automatic setting on my machine.

4. I sliced the hole open using my buttonhole chisel.

I checked that the buttonhole was the right side, and then did the same process on the actual sweater.  I followed with a good dose of fray check just to be sure!

They look nice, and they are secure.  I did cut the buttonhole threads on one hole, and had to hand satin-stitch around it to fix the error.  I would  use scissors next time for greater control.  My machine handled the knit fabric ok, though I did have to encourage the feed dogs just a bit (this is an issue with my machine on all thick fabrics, so I was expecting that.)  I read a few sources that recommended sewing the buttonhole twice for extra security.  I would love to do that, but I cannot for the life of me get the buttonhole in the same exact spot twice.

Would I do it again?  Yes, for this sort of fitted cardigan.  I hate gaping bands, and this fixed the problem.  I would not do it on a loose sweater, or anything that isn’t going to be closed all the time, as it was (no lie) a  whole lot of trouble, and no small amount of terror!

In conclusion, both patterns are recommended, and I’m thrilled with both of my new garments!


crafts · knitting

On my needles: July

Well, if July is the month of sewing skirts, then it must also be the month of starting entirely too many knitting projects!  I had to frog the cardigan I had started (Nespelem) because I wasn’t getting gauge and it would have been tiny.  I will need to buy yarn for that, but I’m on a spending ban for July.  As I said before, I broke my camera, and I need a new one!  My birthday is in July, so that’s what I’m buying myself – a Canon rebel.  Right now I’m using my old camera, which has a broken viewscreen.  In spite of that issue, I will say that it takes better photos than the camera that just broke!

In the past few days I’ve managed to start three different projects, based on your feedback on my project ideas, and here they are:

I opted not to use the recommended yarn because I found this one.  I love the sparkles (there are both blue and copper colored strands,) and it’s much lighter weight than the recommended yarn (while still getting the same gauge in my swatch.)

Edda is from the Kim Hargreaves book Whisper.  I’m using the recommended yarn, Rowan all-seasons cotton.  I love this yarn, in spite of declaring my hatred of heavy cottons yesterday – the acrylic content gives it a little bounce and great stitch definition.  I am using size 6 needles, one size down from the recommended 7s (I can’t find any size 7 needles – and I can’t order them this month!)  I’m making a size up to compensate.  The color is accurate in the yarn photo – it’s a warm honeysuckle pink, very pretty!

Finally, I’m making this shawl.  The pattern is by Carol Sunday, and I’m using her yarn line, Eden 3-ply (I purchased a kit.)  I’m very excited about this project – I loved this shawl as soon as I saw it, and I love that there are multiple patterns to copy the look!  The ruffles are knit at the same time as the body, using short rows.  I prefer this to picking up and knitting later, or seaming the ruffle on.  The color is dark blue – a bit darker than in the photo.  I think this will be a very versatile shawl.  I chose a neutral color, hoping to get lots of wear (since it will take ages to knit – that’s a lot of shawl in sport weight yarn!)

So there you go… my knitting report for the upcoming month.  We’ve just bought a Roku for our TV and canceled cable, so I expect I will be watching a lot of Netflix streaming while working on these (I love the streaming service!  I can never bring myself to schedule tv time, and I don’t have a tivo, so I like being able to watch things whenever I want.)

Coming tomorrow (hopefully): a completed beignet!  My lovely husband actually bought buttons for the skirt, at my request, while he was out, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to go while Joann’s was open before at least Thursday!  He bought two sets, and told me he would return the ones I didn’t like… yes, this makes him a keeper.

crafts · knitting

Figurehead Shawl

Pattern: Figurehead shawl by Alexis Winslow, Knitscene summer 2011

Yarn: Spud & Chloe sweater (55% wool, 45% organic cotton) in barn (red) and splash (blue)

Needle: US 6


I’ve broken my camera (it, along with my tripod, met a sad death when the cat ran straight into it!)  I’m planning to buy a DSLR next month (I want a Canon,) but in the meantime I’m stuck with my old camera, which has a non-working viewscreen, and lacks a self-timer.   It’s just easier to do dressform photos in this case.

I’ve been working on this shawl for a little while.  I needed something portable and mindless to take to the hospital, so I took my WIP along with me and finished it up.  Here is my review:

Pattern:  Excellent, with very clear instructions.  I have to confess that I wasn’t sure how the border was going to work out until the end, and I wasn’t even sure I was doing the bind off right while I was doing it, but it seems to have turned out well!  If you make this shawl, do keep in mind that you really have to search for the float you pick up on the last row – I probably got the wrong one a few times, but it turned out just fine.

I was inspired by Dr. Seuss for the color combo – it isn’t my usual sort of thing, but I like how cheerful it is.

I would rate this pattern easy: If you know how to increase by knitting into the back loop then you can manage this.  The border seems tricky, but if you follow the directions it will turn out.

Yarn:  I’m going to be honest… I really did not enjoy this yarn at all.  It gets great ratings on Ravelry, and I was excited to try it – the colors are saturated and pretty, and it seems sturdy.  It comes across more like a cotton than a wool, and I don’t use worsted weight cotton because it hurts my hands so badly.  It doesn’t have any real stretch to it, and knits up thicker than I thought it would.  It does wash beautifully – I threw mind in the washing machine on handwash (I have a front loader, and use it for pretty much everything that isn’t super delicate,) and it came out without any signs of wear.  I stretched it to try for some extra length, but I didn’t really get any.  It is a bit scratchy to me, but that sort of thing doesn’t bother me much.

Mods: No button/button loop.  Mine came out a tiny bit small, and I felt it would choke me.  I plan to wear this under jackets in the fall – it will make a nice warm layer, but I wouldn’t wear this in the summer due to the weight of the yarn.  Overall this is a highly recommended pattern if you like the style!

crafts · knitting · Life · Sewing

Progress, projects, and pictures

I have had a crazy week!  I spent most of the weekend up in Cincinnati.  A church there had hired me for two large weddings on Friday and Saturday, and we got to go to this:

Ah yes… the Goetta Festival in Covington, KY (across the river from Cincinnati.)   In case you aren’t familiar with it, Goetta is a mixture of ground meat, spices, and steel cut oats, usually fried up and served for breakfast.  It’s better than it sounds (my husband, being a native Cincinnatian, is obsessed – look how pleased he is above, after eating his Goetta corndog and Goetta chili!)  I can take it or leave it, and I chose to leave it in this case and just eat a plain corndog for lunch.

While we were in the area, we visited Knit-on in Newport, where I picked up a copy of Norah Gaughan vol 8 (and Marc got to pet the adorably tubby store cat, Tanner.)  I’ve already cast on for Nespelem:

I decided to use Rowan Cashsoft DK.  I bought this yarn years ago, and I love the pretty silver color.  I thought about using cotton, as the pattern calls for, but I have trouble with my tension in plain cotton.  Plus, this will be much lighter weight – this yarn has 142 yds/50 grams vs the 115 per 50 grams in Berroco pure pima.  The yarn is quite nice, but I will say that it tends to split and is a bit artificial feeling (it has almost as much microfiber as it does wool, and a tiny bit of cashmere.)

My other sweater (Anais) is nearly done.  Right now I’m working on a tutorial for making machine buttonholes on a handknit sweater – I hope to have it up later this week!

Behold, my next sewing project:

I have been greatly inspired by the beignet skirts I’m seeing in Me-made June.  I made one a year and a half ago, but I don’t wear it much – I was not clear on the concept of ease, and while it looks super awesome standing up, it is not comfortable to sit in. This is the cotton chambray from the Joann’s Lisette fabric collection.  I do not plan to line this version – the lining is nice and all, but I love my slips (especially under a pencil skirt!)

I also want a fun sundress for the 4th.  Last year I made Burdastyle’s Tara.  This year I want to make this sundress:



The fabric is crazy, I know!  It’s also from Joann’s, one of their spring collections (long since sold out at my store… I’ve learned to buy the good prints early!)

My step-dad is in the hospital for planned open heart surgery.  He had the surgery this morning, and is doing well, but not great, so I expect that being with my Mom will take  up a lot of time for a bit.  Sorry if I owe you an email etc – life just happens all at once, doesn’t it?


crafts · knitting

In my knitting queue

I’ve been trying to organize my knitting queue, without much success!  I missed a good year of new releases, so now that I’m knitting again my to-knit list is out of control!  I thought I would share some of what I’m obsessed with this summer.  Seeing them together helps me to decide which I really want to make!

Top Row L-R:

Sabbatical by Connie Chang Chinchio (Twist Collective Winter 2009) – I have loved this sweater since it was first released.  The long length and the lacy pattern both appeal to me – but I do like the other two long cardigans better(I find them to have more current shapes,) so this one may be pushed back in the queue.  See?  Seeing them all together is helpful to me!

Lace Cardi by Courtney Kelly (Vogue knitting Summer 2011) The shaped hems are super fun, and I like the magazine styling with the skinny little belt.  I’ve been wanting to try the yarn it calls for as well (Savannah by the Fibre Company)

Peterborough by Norah Gaughan (Norah Gaughan Volume eight)  I love every sweater in this book!  I plan to make this in a wool or wool blend for fall.

Middle Row:

 Edda by Kim Hargreaves (Whisper)  This is my top pick from the latest Kim Hargreaves book.  You can’t tell in the photo, but it has a great textured pattern, and cables down the fronts.  Rowan all-season cotton is a great yarn for cables.  I want to make this sweater in pure white.

Dockside Cardigan by Amy Miller (Interweave Knits Summer 2011) The dolman sleeves and shaped hems are interesting, but I think I need to see some completed versions before I commit to a fingering weight cardigan!

Nespelem by Norah Gaughan (also Vol. 8) My other favorite from the book.  I’m thinking of a silver gray.

Bottom Row: Kirra  (Berroco 294, Origami) The waffle pattern on this is really neat – like a thermal sweater!  I want to use the called for yarn, which is unusual and really pretty.  Berroco has some great yarns right now!

I own a lot of Japanese craft books.  I can’t help myself – the designs and photos are so lovely!  Japanese patterns are very different from US patterns – they are fully charted, usually in one size only (around a 36″ bust,) and the styles are generally a bit different as well.  In particular, there are lovely crochet patterns, and you know how hard it can be to find nice crochet here!  I haven’t made anything harder than a doily from these patterns (well, doilies are hard, but they are at least a predictable shape!)  This year I want to conquer these patterns.

The shawl on the top left is very popular on Ravelry, so I plan to make it first.  It calls for a sportweight yarn, and I plan on either white or gray.  I will probably need some hand holding!  The bottom right cardigan is crocheted, and uses fingering weight stelf-striping yarn – Noro might be a sub, or I might use a more subdued hand-dye, like Madelinetosh merino light.  The other two cardigans are knit, and they both look pretty simple to figure out.  Both have multiple completed versions on Ravelry, so I have more reference than just the chart and the photos (which are more arty than helpful sometimes, when it comes to details.)   The top right cardigan is here, and the bottom left is here.

And finally, the list of shawls I want to make at some point:

Top row: Figurehead shawl by Alexis Winslow (Knitscene Spring 2011)  – I’ve already started this one!  Mine will have red and aqua stripes (it is terribly Dr. Seuss looking – I love it!)

Whose Shawl Do You Think This is? By Carol Sunday – a shawl based on a design worn in a TV show that I’ve actually not ever seen, but I adore the stripes and general shape!  I plan to order a kit, because I don’t want to alter the colorway.

Cambridge Shawl (also Carol Sunday) – Some of the ladies on Ravelry have been obsessed by a shawl that the Duchess of Cambridge was photographed wearing out.  There must be five different patterns for it, but I like this one the best.  I’m undecided on a color – perhaps a nice navy?

Litchfield Shawl by Laura Aylor – just released, I love the uneven stripes, and the neutral colors.

Bottom Row:

Stripe Study by Veera Välimäki – yes, more stripes.  I have a problem.

To Eyre shawl by Carol Sunday – this shawl is based on one in the move Jane Eyre.  I haven’t seen the new movie, but Jane Eyre is my favorite book.  Naturally I need a shawl!  I want to use a dark blue tweed, maybe Berroco Blackstone tweed.

Lake of the Woods by Ilga Leja – I bought the kit for this ages ago, in the colorway pictured.  I still love the colors and design, so I need to get on that!

And this isn’t a fraction of my queue – problems I tell you!

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 · finished objects · knitting

Finished: Audrey in Unst sweater

Pattern: Audrey in Unst

Yarn: Manos Silk blend, 750 yds

Notions:  1/2″ black buttons

I am pleased to announce that I think my knitting dry spell is officially over!  I still can’t say exactly what caused it… perhaps bad associations with my past, or even just burning out – but I’m back again!

This is the Audrey in Unst pattern, from the Fall 2009 Twist Collective.  I wanted to make this sweater as soon as I saw it – the lace was pretty, and I knew the cropped shape would work well with the full skirted dresses that I keep making.

I bought this yarn (Manos Silk Blend) about two years ago, at Loop yarns in Chicago.  I loved the pretty color at the time, and immediately knit part of it up into a shawl… which then sat, unfinished for years.  I frogged it to make this sweater, which I do not regret.  I wore this outfit to a concert I was singing in tonight (chamber choir music) and then out for dinner/wine with choir friends.

The flat shoes are very practical for standing up, and I only took the sweater off when I was actually singing (old stone churches are very cold, even in May!)

About the pattern: I quite liked it.  The twisted rib is really pretty, and I love the overall shape.  I did shorten the cardigan and the sleeves, because I was limited on yarn.  I used smaller buttons than called for in the pattern (my buttonholes came out small.)  It does have some gaping if I button it up, as I mentioned, but for the moment I’m leaving it as it – I do not wear cardigans buttoned entirely!  I will do my buttonhole tutorial on a different sweater, but I haven’t forgotten!

I’m not a huge fan of one piece knitting.  In this case, the body was fine, but I found the sleeves a bit unwieldy.  I would rather knit them flat and seam them in.  The sleevecap shaping is great, using short rows to get a set in sleeve effect on a seamless sweater.  It was a bit hard on my hands though, so I’m not sure I would do it again.

The yarn was lovely in texture and color, but I must warn you – it does pill quite badly!  I’m not sure I would use it again.  I didn’t alternate skeins, though I know you should on a hand dyed yarn.  Even so, I think the skeins all matched pretty closely – even the one line I can see (over the ribbing) does not bother me.

The pattern is highly recommended!  It’s not for absolute beginners, because the sleeves and the i-cord neck binding are both a bit difficult at first.  But if you’ve made a sweater or two, go for it!

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 · knitting

Buttonbands… ugh

You may be wondering where my Audrey sweater is – isn’t it finished by now?  Well, yes, but I am having some technical difficulties!  All was well until I attached the buttonband.  It looks fine buttoned until you move at all, then this happens:

The buttons and holes are lined up, but I think the band itself is a bit long.  It’s picked up and knitting onto the finished fronts, and I used the pattern ratio of stitches to pick up, but I really think there should be fewer.  There is just too much fabric to stretch out between the buttonholes.  I’m not in the mood to rip back, so I’m going to try reinforcing the band with a grosgrain ribbon first.  I plan to do a tutorial on that, as I have seen a few people asking for one.

On my next sweater I’m going to use my sewing machine to make machined buttonholes.  I know a few people who do, and they don’t have the issues with flimsy buttonholes that I always do!

To make myself feel better, I’m wearing a successful sweater project today:

This sweater is Honey from the Kim Hargreaves book Nectar.  It was fun to knit, and the yarn (all-seasons cotton by Rowan) has held up like iron.  And look – pants!  I don’t like wearing pants anymore, but today I was in the mood for some reason.

Look for another post today with my next sewing project!